TSFJ College Hoops Power Rankings Week 8: Reshuffling The Deck

Another week of college basketball, and another week of surprises. As we progress through the 2017-18 season, the big picture seems to be getting cloudier rather than clearer. This week saw a team that was once on the short list of Final Four favorites looking beyond vulnerable, while the Big 12 has become a war of attrition as talented teams beat up on each other on a nightly basis. Despite another week of surprises, no new teams crack the rankings. Of the three ranked teams that lost last week, one had been too solid to tumble all the way out, while the other two suffered respectable losses coupled with decent wins. There are no newcomers, but there is plenty of movement.

1. Villanova (16-1) Last week: 1

Defeated No. 10 Xavier, St. John’s

The Wildcats remain at the top after a shellacking of tenth-ranked Xavier and overcoming a sloppy showing against St. John’s. Most encouraging for ‘Nova fans is the fact that the Wildcats have seen their defense trend back towards the level they are used to playing at after a run of defensive struggles.

2. Duke (15-2) Last week: 4

Defeated Pitt, Wake Forest

Here at TSFJ, we’ve remained bullish on the Blue Devils despite their two ACC losses. Duke rebounded from last week’s loss to N.C. State with resounding wins over Pitt and Wake Forest, and leap to number two after last week’s number two and three each lost. The Blue Devils still have issues to iron out, but the talent level is frightening.

3. Purdue (17-2) Last week: 6

Defeated Michigan, Minnesota

The Boilermakers have run off 13 straight victories. They are now the only team in the country ranked in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency by KenPom. Purdue boasts four players averaging at least 13 points per game. The Boilermakers are rock solid, and the college hoops world is starting to take notice.

4. Oklahoma (14-2) Last week: 9

Defeated No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 16 TCU

The Sooners have been all over these rankings this season, rising as high as number three after starting the season unranked, then falling to ninth last week after a loss to West Virginia. Now, they rise back to number four after having one of the best weeks in the country with two wins over ranked opponents. Oklahoma sits in a four-way tie atop the Big 12 standings, emerging as one of several threats to end Kansas’ historic run of conference titles.

We hope you're paying attention to Trae Young and Oklahoma by now. (Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports)

5. Texas Tech (15-2) Last week: 5

Lost to No. 9 Oklahoma, Defeated No. 2 West Virginia

The Red Raiders hold steady at number five after a roller coaster week. They appeared primed for a tumble after losing to Oklahoma, but responded with a win over newly-minted No. 2 West Virginia. A relatively weak non-conference schedule cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Red Raiders, but wins over Baylor, Kansas and now, West Virginia have established them as players in the Big 12 race.

6. Virginia (16-1) Last week: 8

Defeated Syracuse, N.C. State

Virginia continues its ascent up the rankings after finally breaking in last week. We’ll be looking forward to the next marquee test for the Cavaliers, which will come in two weeks with games against Clemson and Duke, but for now Virginia makes a modest rise in the rankings.

7. Wichita State (15-2) Last week: 7

Defeated ECU and Tulsa

The Shockers find themselves stuck at number seven, ironically falling victim to their schedule. Despite the step up in level to the AAC, Wichita State spent the week dealing with weaker teams in AAC play, struggling to a three-point win over Tulsa. A weekend trip to Houston will give the Shockers a chance at a quality win.

8. West Virginia (15-2) Last week: 2

Defeated Baylor, Lost to No. 8 Texas Tech

A drop from two to nine feels a bit harsh following a respectable loss to the No. 8 team in the country (one that also sits at number five in these rankings). Perhaps it is, but a majority of the teams behind the Mountaineers performed well this week, and so here we are. The Mountaineers remain a very real threat in the Big 12, and no one will want to play them come March. An opportunity for a quick bounce back awaits as Kansas visits Monday night.

9. Auburn (16-1) Last week: 10

Defeated Mississippi, Mississippi State

Auburn made a surprise appearance in the rankings last week after a tumultuous week for top 25 teams. The Tigers backed it up by beating up on the state of Mississippi. Auburn sits in the driver’s seat of the SEC, the only remaining unbeaten in conference play.

10. Michigan State (16-3) Last week: 3

Defeated Rutgers, Lost to Michigan

Two weeks ago it would have been unthinkable that Michigan State would be on the precipice of falling out of these rankings. After losing to Duke, the Spartans were absolutely rolling, dismantling everyone in their path. Last week’s loss to Ohio State was considered a blip on the radar, simply an inevitable conference upset. Now, Michigan State has lost two of three, and needed overtime to dispatch Rutgers in between losses to Ohio State and Michigan. A team that once looked like the most complete in the country suddenly looks shockingly vulnerable. Turnovers were a major issue against Michigan, and will need to be cleaned up if the Spartans hope to right the ship and fulfill the promise this season once showed.

Lurking: Clemson, Kansas, Xavier, Arizona, Arizona State, Seton Hall, Cincinnati

Dropped from rankings: none.

Despite nobody dropping from the rankings, there was plenty of reshuffling. Michigan State is hanging by a thread. The gauntlet that is the Big 12 schedule puts Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and West Virginia on constant alert, while providing a clear path for a team like Kansas to jump in to the rankings. And if we’ve learned anything from the college hoops season so far, it’s that no team is safe on any given night. A new week promises more changes, so be sure to check back next week to keep up to date.

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