If Saturday’s glut of upsets, exciting games, and nail-biting finishes is any indiation, this year’s NCAA Tournament is going to be fantastic.
As it stands, this looks like my next to last set of Power Rankings for the season, because once the field is announced and March Madness begins, any lingering debates will be settled on the floor.
College Basketball Power Rankings
1. Kentucky (28-1, Previous Ranking: 1)
The Wildcats got a bit of a scare on Tuesday when they trailed Mississippi State by 13 at the break, but they outscored the Bulldogs 45-23 in the second half. Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the way with 18 points and 10 boards with fellow frosh Anthony Davis notching a double-double of his own with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Davis one-upped himself against Vanderbilt on Saturday, as he hit 11-of-12 from the field on his way to 28 points to go with 11 boards and six blocks in arguably the best game of his young career.
Kentucky is now two games away from a perfect SEC season. Thursday’s home game against Georgia shouldn’t be a challenge, and I’m not sure Sunday’s trip to Florida will be either.
2. Syracuse (29-1, Previous Ranking: 2)
Wins over South Florida and UConn clinched an outright Big East Championship for the Orange. They overcame a slow start against the Bulls behind 15 points from Scoop Jardine and 13 points, six rebounds, and five steals from C.J. Fair. Saturday night they withstood a fierce rally from the Huskies, and Kris Joseph led the way with 21 points, while Fab Melo added 11 points and nine rebounds along with the game-winner.
The Orange have the week off before Saturday’s regular season finale with Louisville in the Carrier Dome.
3. Kansas (24-5, Previous Ranking: 4)
The Jayhawks clinched a share of the Big 12 Title with a road win at Texas A&M followed by an 87-86 overtime thriller against Missouri. Thomas Robinson posted two more double-doubles, including Saturday’s 28-point, 12-rebound effort against the Tigers. Tyshawn Taylor was also fantastic against Mizzou with 24 points and five assists along with the game-winning free throws.
Kansas finishes the Big 12 season this week with a road trip to Oklahoma State followed by the home finale against Texas. Winning just one of them will earn the Jayhawks the outright regular season champs.
4. Michigan State (24-5, Previous Ranking: 5)
Wins over Minnesota and Nebraska extended Michigan State’s winning streak to seven games and earned the Spartans at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. Draymond Green continues to make his case for Big Ten Player of the Year after posting 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, and four steals against the Gophers followed by 20 points, 10 boards, and three steals in a rout of the Huskers.
This week the Spartans have a tough road test at Indiana followed by a home date against slumping Ohio State.
5. Duke (25-4, Previous Ranking: 6)
The Blue Devils extracted some measure of revenge by winning at Florida State, as they hit a staggering 13-of-28 from beyond the arc. Andre Dawkins canned six triples and finished with 22 points, but Duke struggled in Saturday’s home game against Virginia Tech before eventually winning in overtime. Freshman Austin Rivers continued his strong recent play with 43 points in the two victories.
Duke remains tied atop the ACC with North Carolina with just two games left in the regular season, Tuesday at Wake Forest and Saturday at home against the Heels.
6. North Carolina (25-4, Previous Ranking: 7)
UNC kept pace with Duke by picking up road wins at North Carolina State and Virginia last week. Kendall Marshall racked up 22 points and 13 assists against the Wolfpack, while Tyler Zeller continued his campaign for ACC Player of the Year with 20 points and six boards against the Cavaliers. John Henson posted two more double-doubles with a total of 29 points and 24 rebounds in the two victories.
The Heels host Maryland on Wednesday before heading to Duke for a game that should decide the ACC Title.
7. Missouri (25-4, Previous Ranking: 3)
It was a disappointing week for the Tigers who lost to Kansas State for the second time this season and blew a 19-point second half lead at Kansas. Marcus Denmon, Michael Dixon, and Ricardo Ratliffe all has solid weeks, but it wasn’t quite enough, as Mizzou will now likely wind up the two seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
The Tigers close out the regular season by hosting Iowa State and traveling to Texas Tech, but I think everyone is hoping for round three of Missouri-Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament.
8. Marquette (24-5, Previous Ranking: 11)
The Golden Eagles have now won 12 of their last 13 games following wins over Rutgers and West Virginia. Marquette benched three starters for the first half against West Virginia, but they erased an 11-point halftime deficit to maintain a hold on second place in the Big East. Jae Crowder continued his stellar play by scoring 27 points in the 17-point win over the Scarlet Knights before hanging 26 on the Mountaineers.
Marquette has a pair of tough games to finish the regular season, as they head to Cincinnati on Wednesday before returning home to play Georgetown in the finale.
9. Baylor (24-5, Previous Ranking: 12)
Early in the week Baylor rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to win at Texas behind 22 points and 16 boards from Quincy Acy and 25 points and six assists from Pierre Jackson. Jackson followed that up with 18 points against Oklahoma, as both he and backcourt mate Brady Heslip each hit four three-pointers.
The Bears have a winnable home game against Texas Tech before a challenging road test at Iowa State to finish the regular season.
10. Ohio State (23-6, Previous Ranking: 9)
The Buckeyes have now lost three of their last five games following Sunday’s home loss to Wisconsin. Once again, OSU got virtually nothing from players other than Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, William Buford, and Aaron Craft, as the supporting cast contributed just one point and six turnovers against the Badgers. Thomas led the team in scoring in both of this week’s games, while Sullinger failed to make it to double figures in either one.
Road games at Northwestern and Michigan State await this week as OSU looks to right the ship prior to post-season play.
11. Georgetown (21-6, Previous Ranking: 8)
It was an uneven week for the Hoyas, as they lost by 18 points at Seton Hall and beat Villanova by 21 at home. After no Georgetown player reached double figures against the Pirates, four did so against the Wildcats, led by Otto Porter and Jason Clark who had 15 points and six rebounds each.
Two tough games remain for Georgetown as they look to get a double-bye in the Big East Tournament. The Hoyas host Notre Dame on Monday before finishing the season at Marquette.
12. Michigan (21-8, Previous Ranking: 10)
The Wolverines got hot in overtime to score their second win over Northwestern this season, but they followed that up with their first home loss of the year when they lost to Purdue on Saturday. Michigan’s reliance on the three-point shot hurt them against the Boilers, as they took 32 of their 60 field goal attempts from beyond the arc but made just 28.1 percent of them.
Road games against Illinois and Penn State are up next for the Wolverines as they look to improve their tournament seed.
13. Wisconsin (21-8, Previous Ranking: 13)
If you had told me the Badgers would be 1-1 last week, I would definitely have believed you, but I’m not sure I would have correctly predicted which game they would win. They lost by a point at Iowa on Thursday but bounced back to beat Ohio State in Columbus on Sunday. Against the Buckeyes, Jordan Taylor led the way with 19 points, and Jared Berggren scored 18, including the game-winning three-pointer in the final minute.
Wisconsin is now poised for a strong finish with home games this week against Minnesota and Illinois, both of whom the Badgers have already beaten on the road.
14. Wichita State (26-4, Previous Ranking: 16)
The Shockers won their last two Missouri Valley games by a combined 36 points to finish 16-2 in the league. Wichita State won their final eight games and 16 of their last 17, and a balanced offensive attach was on display once again this week. Four Shockers reached double figures against Illinois State, and five did so in the home finale versus Drake.
Next up for Wichita State is the Missouri Valley Tournament with their first game taking place Friday against the winner of Indiana State and Southern Illinois.
15. Murray State (28-1, Previous Ranking: 18)
With road wins over Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech, the Racers finished the regular season with just one loss. Not surprisingly, guard Isaiah Canaan led the way with 42 points in the two victories.
At this point, Murray State is safely in the field even if they don’t win the OVC Tournament, but a couple more wins certainly couldn’t hurt their seed. The Racers have a bye to the Semifinals on Friday.
16. UNLV (24-6, Previous Ranking: 22)
Thanks to wins over Boise State and Air Force and a pair of losses by New Mexico, the Rebels are now part of a three-way tie atop the Mountain West. Chace Stanback had a terrific week with 40 points and 15 rebounds to go with 9-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc, and if he can become a more consistent scorer, UNLV can make some serious noise in the tournament.
The Rebels have a tough road game at Colorado State before finishing the regular season at home against Wyoming, who beat them earlier in the season.
17. Notre Dame (20-9, Previous Ranking: 14)
The Irish crushed West Virginia earlier in the week but saw their nine-game winning streak was snapped at St. John’s on Saturday. Notre Dame shot over 60 percent from the field against the Mountaineers, who they outscored 41-16 after the break. However, they made just 4-of-31 from deep against the Red Storm and lost by just three.
Notre Dame is alone in third place with games remaining at Georgetown and home against Providence.
18. Indiana (22-7, Previous Ranking: 24)
Indiana won both of their games this week by 19 points. Cody Zeller led four Hoosiers in double figures with 17 points and seven rebounds against NC Central, while Victor Oladipo paced the attack with 12 points and eight boards in a road win at Minnesota. Oladipo has excelled since his move to the point a few weeks ago, averaging 16.0 points and 6.2 rebounds to go with 7.8 free throw attempts.
The Hoosiers close out the regular season with home games against Michigan State and Purdue, both of which should be challenging.
19. San Diego State (22-6, Previous Ranking: 23)
The Aztecs got back on track with home wins over Wyoming and Colorado State. Jamaal Franklin returned from an ankle injury but seemed to be hampered against the Cowboys, scoring just 12 points. However, he exploded for 31 points and 16 rebounds versus the Rams, as SDSU moved into a three-way tie atop the conference with New Mexico and UNLV.
A pair of road tests await this week against Boise State and surging TCU, who has yet to lose at home in Mountain West play.
20. Louisville (22-7, Previous Ranking: 20)
After losing a tight game at Cincinnati, the Cardinals bounced back to score a narrow home victory against Pitt. They hit just 1-of-14 from long range against the Bearcats, but Kyle Kuric came through with four three-pointers and 17 points versus the Panthers.
At 10-6 in the league, Louisville still has a chance to earn a double-bye in the Big East Tournament, but they need to knock off South Florida at home and win at Syracuse this week to have a shot.
21. Florida State (19-9, Previous Ranking: 15)
The Noles fell out of a first-place tie in the ACC by losing at home to Duke, but they followed that up with a disappointing road loss to a Miami team playing without Reggie Johnson. Florida State’s offensive woes crept back up this week, as they shot below 40 percent against Duke and made just 54.5 percent from the line. Things weren’t much better against the Hurricanes, with FSU going 5-of-23 from deep and shooting 56.3 percent from the stripe while turning the ball over 18 times.
This week brings another road test at Virginia before the Noles return home to host Clemson in the season finale.
22. Temple (22-6, Previous Ranking: 21)
The Owls needed overtime to beat La Salle early in the week, but they saw their 11-game win streak snapped at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday night. They struggled on the defensive end in both contests, as they allowed 161 points over the two games with both teams hitting at least nine three-pointers.
Temple can still clinch the Atlantic 10 Title with wins over Massachusetts and Fordham this week.
23. Florida (22-7, Previous Ranking: 17)
This remains a tough team to figure out. The Gators beat Auburn at home last week, but they lost forward Will Yeguete to injury and subsequently lost by 14 points at Georgia. Florida made just 5-of-23 from beyond the arc against the Bulldogs, and they allowed allowed UGA to hit over 52 percent from the field.
The Gators need to bounce back with a pair of tough games this week against Vanderbilt on the road and Kentucky at home.
24. Creighton (25-5, Previous Ranking: N/A)
The Bluejays still have some questions on the defensive end, but they keep finding ways to win. They followed up a thrilling BracketBusters victory over Long Beach State by beating Evansville in overtime and winning by a point at Indiana State to finish 14-4 in the Missouri Valley. Doug McDermott scored 43 points in the two victories, and guard Antoine Young poured in 42 and dished out 11 assists.
Next up for Creighton is Arch Madness, where they will face the winner of Drake and Bradley on Friday.
25. Iowa State (21-8, Previous Ranking: N/A)
After crushing Texas Tech and picking up an impressive road win at Kansas State, the Cyclones are 11-5 in the Big 12. Forward Royce White continues to do a little of everything for this team with 22 points, 22 rebounds, 15 assists, and four steals in the two victories. The recent transfers have gotten a lot of the attention this season, but senior sharpshooter (and former Marquette transfer) Scott Christopherson has been fantastic as well with 71 points over the last three games.
Iowa State has a pair of tough games to close out the season, as they travel to Missouri before hosting Baylor in the season finale.