With the NFL season having come and gone once again, and the NBA approaching the All-Star break the spotlight is directly on college basketball. Top 10 teams losing left and right, and I’m sure we’ve all enjoyed every single minute of it.
Just last week six teams in the top ten suffered losses. Seems like March Madness is getting a head start. To start off the week Ben Brown and I give you our top-16 power rankings.
Cincy is another tough team to judge because they don’t play a tough schedule in the AAC. They are currently 3-2 vs teams ranked in the RPI top 50. It will be interesting to see how easy they get through the conference tournament and how fatigue will affect them. The Bearcats are currently ranked 21st on KenPom.
15) West Virginia
West Virginia is living and dying by the full court press. They can fluster any team with their trap in the backcourt, but when it gets beat, so do the Mountaineers. Oklahoma State was able to get around the press and they went into Morgantown and won. KenPom has West Virginia ranked fifth. West Virginia still has a game with Kansas and Baylor left on their schedule.
Purdue went on the road to beat Maryland on Saturday. They also beat a 25th ranked Northwestern earlier in the week pretty easily. Purdue has the perfect mix of veteran guards and a seasoned big man.
Purdue is a team I will be watching closely come tournament time. The Boilermakers are currently ranked 12th on KenPom with a pretty mild schedule the rest of the way.
Virginia might be the hardest team to get a read on this year. They have suffered losses to Pitt and Syracuse but took down six teams in the RPI top 50.
The issue is they can’t put up enough points on offense to make up for the games when their incredible defense isn’t 100 percent. Virginia ranks third on KenPom. UVA still has Louisville, Duke and UNC left on the schedule.
Florida was not on most radars going into Saturday. The Gators dismantled Kentucky while opening a lot of eyes in the process. Florida has had a tough schedule this year and a bad loss to Vanderbilt, but that seems to be behind them now. Florida currently ranks seventh on KenPom and will visit Kentucky February 25th.
Kentucky has lost three of its last four and would have lost to Georgia if Malik Monk didn’t hit a last second shot. It is situations like this when Coach Calipari unveils his season saving “tweak.” UK currently ranks sixth on KenPom. Kentucky has one more chance against Florida and that is probably that last tournament resume game for the Cats.
UCLA ended January by losing at home to Arizona and on the road to USC. UCLA has only two wins in the RPI top 50 on the road at Kentucky and at home against Cal. UCLA currently ranks 18th on KenPom. UCLA still has a game with Arizona and Oregon on the schedule.
Arizona suffered its first loss while the team has been at full strength to Oregon on Saturday. All of Arizona’s losses have come from teams in the RPI top 50. Arizona is currently ranked 22 in KenPom. Arizona can improve its ranking by beating UCLA on Feb 25 and obviously winning the Pac 12 tournament.
8) Florida State
After all these years Florida State has finally put all the pieces together, and having a fantastic season. I was beginning to think they’d never figure it out but Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jonathan Isaac are playing at All-Conference levels and have the Seminoles at 20-4 and just a game behind UNC in the ACC. How they handle themselves in late February and March will tell us a lot about how good they are.
Jay Bilas believes the Wisconsin Badgers have the best post defender in the country. That’s high praise for Ethan Happ who has quickly become one of the best players in the B1G. The Badgers are 20-3 and once again flying under the radar. The Badgers are as well rounded as any team in the country, and they have a handful of playmakers that have the ability to take over a game when needed.
6) North Carolina
It seems as though the season North Carolina has put together has gone somewhat unnoticed. They’re 21-4 and lead the ACC at 9-2; they beat Florida State by 13 and they beat NC State by 51.
Justin Jackson is playing like an All-American and Kennedy Meeks is as rebounding machine. They still have a brutal schedule left, with two games against Duke and Virginia with Louisville wedged in the middle. We’ll find out how good UNC is at the end of the season.
They had their 51 game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse snapped on Saturday thanks to 18 threes from Iowa State. A tough pill to swallow but nothing the Jayhawks can’t bounce back from. Kansas has found a formula to win with a relatively small lineup. They still have rematches with West Virginia and on the road at Baylor, so their quest for a 13th straight Big 12 title is far from over.
Fresh off a certified beatdown of Arizona, the Oregon Ducks come in at number four. I can’t imagine the Ducks would ever shoot like that again this year, but to do it against one of the best teams in the country is something that can’t be overlooked.
I wasn’t 100 percent sold on Oregon until Saturday. This team can defend, and obviously are serious threats on the offensive end. They will be tested again on Thursday in Pauley Pavilion.
Outside of Nigel Williams-Goss Gonzaga isn’t going to overwhelm you with an abundance of talent. Przemek Karnowski mans the paint at 7’1” 300 pounds, and is really just there to eat up space.
Outside of Florida and Arizona they haven’t really played anybody, but nonetheless they are undefeated, and you don’t go 24-0 by accident. They have yet to play St. Mary’s who I think would be their best chance to take a loss. Until then you can’t debate the facts.
Louisville would have to be one the more surprising teams in the country. Mostly because of how well they’ve played with the injuries they’ve suffered. There is a silver lining though as those injuries have paved way for Donovan Mitchell to take over.
Mitchell has played well in Quentin Snider’s absence, and makes Louisville more of a threat when Snider returns. They play Virginia on Monday; a team they don’t have much success against. They’ll need everything Mitchell can give them.
The Wildcats currently sit at 22-2 with their two losses being to Marquette and Butler. Even with two less than appealing losses Villanova still sits atop our power rankings. Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson lead one of the best backcourts in the country, and they’re a big reason why they’re headed to a one seed in the NCAA tournament. They still have some tests ahead of them with Xavier, Butler and Creighton waiting for their rematch in the coming weeks.