After yet another week where nearly half of the Top 25 suffered at least one loss, the exercise of putting together my latest power rankings has proven to be challenging once again.
The middle of the list has proven to be a complete mess, but since road wins have been so tough to come by, there are some teams that actually stayed put or even moved up despite losing.
College Basketball Power Rankings
1. Syracuse (19-0, Previous Ranking: 1)
The Orange won their two games this week by a combined 36 points and are the only Big East team without a loss. I am dying to see this team be challenged, but with games at home against a reeling Pitt squad and on the road at Notre Dame, I don’t see that happening this week.
2. Kentucky (17-1, Previous Ranking: 2)
With road victories against Auburn and Tennessee last week, the Wildcats have already equaled their SEC road win total from last season. Freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continue to lead the way for Kentucky, while fellow frosh Marquis Teague could stand to cut back on his shooting given his efficiency numbers. Kentucky has home games against Arkansas and Alabama this week.
3. Baylor (17-0, Previous Ranking: 5)
The Bears picked up arguably the biggest road win in college hoops last week by knocking off K-State in the Octagon before dumptrucking Oklahoma State over the weekend. Monday’s game with Kansas is the marquee matchup of the week, but win or lose, Baylor has proven they should be considered among the nation’s elite teams. Saturday’s game against Missouri closes out a brutal week for the Bears.
4. Ohio State (16-3, Previous Ranking: 4)
Brandon Paul almost singlehandedly beat the Buckeyes on Tuesday with 43 points, but they returned to form against Indiana on Sunday and had the look of a Final Four team in that game. Lenzelle Smith Jr. gave them a huge spark with 28 points against the Hoosiers, and if he can become a consistent contributor, it takes OSU to another level. Their lone game this week is at Nebraska on Saturday.
5. Duke (15-2, Previous Ranking: 8)
The ACC doesn’t provide many chances for quality wins this year, but the Blue Devils picked up one on Thursday by knocking off Virginia at home. They followed that up with a road win at Clemson and are currently the only team undefeated in ACC play. A pair of home games await this week, with Wake Forest coming to Cameron on Thursday and surging Florida State visiting on Saturday.
6. Missouri (16-1, Previous Ranking: 9)
The Tigers rebounded from a loss to Kansas State to win by 10 points at Iowa State and by 11 at home versus Texas. Flip Pressey tallied 30 points and 15 assists in the two victories, while Ricardo Ratliffe scored 21 against the Longhorns and is now shooting 77.4 percent from the field. Mizzou has a winnable home game against A&M on Monday before a showdown at Baylor on Saturday.
7. Michigan State (15-3, Previous Ranking: 6)
It was an uneven week for the Spartans, who dismantled Iowa in their first game but lost at Northwestern on Saturday. Draymond Green and Keith Appling continue to pace the MSU offensive attack, but turnovers were the team’s undoing against the Wildcats and their 1-3-1 zone. An intra-state battle at Michigan awaits Sparty on Tuesday before they return home to take on Purdue next weekend.
8. North Carolina (15-3, Previous Ranking: 3)
It’s hard to put into words how disappointing UNC’s performance was on Sunday as they allowed Florida State to jump out to a large lead and eventually rolled over and got blown out. As I mentioned with Duke, there aren’t many chance to pick up resume-enhancing wins in the ACC, which magnifies the importance of any unexpected losses. UNC’s only game this week comes Thursday at Virginia Tech.
9. Kansas (14-3, Previous Ranking: 11)
Tyshawn Taylor had a fantastic game to lead the Jayhawks to a comeback win over Iowa State on Saturday, scoring 28 points and dishing out six assists. Thomas Robinson posted two more double-doubles, and his play will be critical against Baylor’s talented frontline on Monday. Kansas follows up that terrific matchup with a trip to Texas over the weekend.
10. Georgetown (14-3, Previous Ranking: 9)
Turnovers led to a disappointing home loss to Cincinnati, but the Hoyas bounced back to win at St. John’s on Sunday. Senior Jason Clark had a solid all-around game against the Red Storm with 15 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. With games against DePaul and Rutgers this week, Georgetown has a good chance to move to 16-3.
11. UNLV (16-3, Previous Ranking: 12)
The Rebels lost a hard-fought game against rival San Diego State on a last-second shot in their only game of the week. Anthony Marshall paced the UNLV attack with 26 points while Chace Stanback, Mike Moser, and Oscar Bellfield combined to go 7-of-32 from the field. They have a pair of home games this week, the second of which comes against a red hot New Mexico squad.
12. Creighton (16-2, Previous Ranking: 15)
While many teams had a hard time winning two games this week, the Bluejays won three MVC games, knocking off Northern Iowa, Illinois State, and Southern Illinois. Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott posted 59 points and 28 boards in the three games. This week Creighton heads to Missouri State to try to avenge an earlier loss before hosting Indiana State over the weekend.
13. Indiana (15-3, Previous Ranking: 7)
It was a disappointing week for the Hoosiers, who dropped a winnable game at home against Minnesota on Thursday before losing by 17 at Ohio State on Sunday. Defense continues to be a concern with IU allowing the most points per possession of any team in Big Ten play. Games against Nebraska and Penn State give them the opportunity to get back on track.
14. Virginia (14-2, Previous Ranking: 16)
The Cavaliers had a pair of last-second shots that could have sent their game against Duke into overtime. Mike Scott was fantastic once again with 23 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort. The Cavs have established themselves as the clear-cut third best team in the ACC, which means they should be able to win at Georgia Tech and at home against Virginia Tech this week.
15. San Diego State (15-2, Previous Ranking: 22)
After beating UNLV at home, the Aztecs validated their hot start after having played virtually no one for a month. Jamaal Franklin led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds, including the game winner with just 0.3 seconds left. James Rahon was also on fire and poured in 22 points for the Aztecs. Another tough tests awaits when they head to The Pit this week to face New Mexico.
16. Michigan (14-4, Previous Ranking: 13)
The Wolverines needed overtime to take care of Northwestern and followed that up with a 16-point loss at Iowa. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s inconsistent shooting continued, and Michigan made just 8-of-31 from three-point range against the Hawkeyes. They need significantly more production from their frontline with Michigan State coming to town this week. On Saturday, the Wolverines head to Arkansas for a non-conference matchup of contrasting styles.
17. Connecticut (14-3, Previous Ranking: 20)
The Huskies picked up a much-needed win against West Virginia and played one of their best games of the season at Notre Dame on Saturday. Freshman Andre Drummond had two more double-doubles to extend his streak to three, but fellow frosh Ryan Boatright’s eligibility is in question again. Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati is a big one for both teams, and a non-conference matchup at Tennessee will be challenging as well based on how the Vols are playing.
18. Mississippi State (15-3, Previous Ranking: 24)
After losing to Arkansas last weekend, Mississippi State bounced back to beat Tennessee and Alabama at home. Arnett Moultrie had a huge night against the Tide with 25 points and 13 boards, while Dee Bost had 30 points in the two wins. The Bulldogs, who are just 1-1 in true away games, hit the road this week to take on Mississippi and Vanderbilt.
19. Florida (14-4, Previous Ranking: 19)
The Gators won two games they should have won this week, with Kenny Boynton leading the way with 32 points in victories over Georgia and South Carolina. Florida still doesn’t really have a signature win this year, although the 18-point drubbing of Florida State looks better now. Their only game this week comes on Saturday when a struggling LSU squad comes to Gainesville.
20. Murray State (18-0, Previous Ranking: 23)
Things just keep on rolling for the Racers even with second-leading scorer Ivan Aska out with an injury. Donte Poole had a huge week for Murray State, scoring 21 points against Jacksonville State before pouring in a career-high 28 versus Tennessee Tech. A pair of road games await the Racers this week, but I don’t expect them to lose either one.
21. Kansas State (12-4, Previous Ranking: 14)
The Wildcats lost a hard-fought game to Baylor on Tuesday, so there’s no shame in that. However, they played poorly in a road loss to an Oklahoma team that had struggled in conference play. K-State’s first three league games were as tough as they come, so things should start to even out for them from a scheduling standpoint. This week they welcome Texas to the Ocatgon before heading to Oklahoma State.
22. Marquette (14-4, Previous Ranking: 25)
The Golden Eagles took care of business at home against St. John’s and Pitt thanks to seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. DJO scored 38 points in the two wins while Crowder went for 30. This week they face Louisville at home on Monday before a winnable road game at Providence on Saturday.
23. Illinois (15-3, Previous Ranking: N/A)
Brandon Paul’s 43-point outburst against Ohio State was one of the best individual performances this season, particularly given his subpar efficiency numbers heading into that game. The Illini are now 4-1 in Big Ten play, and after a lengthy layoff, they head to Happy Valley this week for a date with Penn State before hosting Wisconsin on Sunday.
24. Saint Mary’s (17-2, Previous Ranking: N/A)
The Gaels already had a handful of decent wins, but they played arguably their best game of the season in a 21-point blowout of Gonzaga on Thursday. Matthew Dellavedova was fantastic against the Zags with 26 points and six assists and is one of the more underrated guards in the country. Saint Mary’s has a pair of winnable games this week as they look to stay alone atop the WCC.
25. Seton Hall (14-2, Previous Ranking: 17)
Blowing a late lead and losing at South Florida on Friday night put an end to the Pirates’ win streak, but I’m not prepared to write off wins over West Virginia and UConn as a fluke just yet. However, they need to avoid a road loss against a struggling Villanova team in their only game this week to stay in the Top 25.