This was a fairly pedestrian week in the world of college basketball. All in all, only two of the teams on last week’s rankings suffered a loss which results in a largely similar Power 16 from a week ago. February is right around the corner, which means we are getting into the meat of the CBB season. Now is where we look for teams to be playing their best. Here is this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.
1. Gonzaga (21-1)
The Zags just continue to demolish their opposition by beating Pacific 92-59 this week. This marks five straight games that Gonzaga has won by at least 20 points. The Bulldogs should quite honestly finish the season without another loss which would put them in a prime position to grab the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Baylor (17-1)
Baylor skated by Oklahoma before beating Florida on Saturday night. The Bears were actually underdogs in the Oklahoma game, but were able to win by 11 points. Vegas thinks that this Baylor team might be overrated and I agree. Despite what this team has accomplished this season, it’s tough to see them as the top team in the country. With that being said, there is no shame in being No. 2 and I hope they continue to go out there and prove me wrong every night.
3. Louisville (17-3)
Louisville is now 17-3 on the year and hold a lead in the ACC. With the conference having a but of a down year, the Cardinals have taken full advantage and thrust themselves into a good spot to be the ACC champs this season. There are still some tests remaining on the schedule, but no game that you would rule this team out in. 6’5 Freshman David Johnson (pictured) has come up big of late, providing assists and scoring.
4. Kansas (16-3)
The Jayhawks made the headlines this week for all of the wrong reasons. If you didn’t know, there was a bench-clearing fight between Kansas and Kansas State which has led to a handful of suspensions. The players lost to suspension shouldn’t hurt too bad, but not being at full strength is always a concern. I’ll give Kansas the benefit of the doubt for now.
5. San Diego State (21-0)
San Diego State just keeps on winning basketball games. I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks now that the Aztecs have a legit shot to go undefeated and each week is bringing them closer to that feat. There’s only a game or two that poses a legit threat so unless there is an extreme off-night for the team, I expect to keep SDSU in the top five of these rankings.
6. Duke (16-3)
The Blue Devils only played one game this week coming off of the loss to Louisville a week ago. Duke beat Miami by 30 points in a game that was over within minutes of tip off. The next couple of games should just be tune-ups in getting ready for a matchup with Florida State, unless of course UNC gets Cole Anthony back before their clash.
7. Dayton (18-2)
Dayton is slowly creeping onto the radar of the country with their strong performances this season. The Flyers have actually not been playing their best basketball recently but have still been winning games which ultimately is all that matters. We obviously would like to see Dayton play some ranked teams, but that is not an option here.
8. Florida State (17-2)
Florida State continues to impress in the ACC, but has been barely winning games as of late. The Seminoles last three games have been decided by a grand total of 9 points. Although Virginia has been disappointing this year, a win over the Cavaliers next week will give FSU another boost in confidence moving forward.
9. Oregon (17-4)
The Ducks keep furthering themselves from the rest of the Pac 12. This week they beat USC in 2OT and beat UCLA by 21 points. Oregon will likely drop another couple of games before the season ends, but at the same time I wouldn’t put it past them to run the table into the postseason.
10. Villanova (16-3)
Nova picked up a big win over Butler and did so in convincing fashion. A 15-point win over the next best team in the Big East is a good look moving forward. It’s safe to say that the Wildcats are the clear-cut top team in the conference at the moment and should be looking at a top 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
11. Kentucky (15-4)
Kentucky beat Georgia before taking down Texas Tech on the road in overtime. The Texas Tech win is a big resume booster and further solidified the fact that the Wildcats are still one of the best teams in the country.
12. Michigan State (15-5)
The Spartans are one of the only ranked teams to lose this week, and did so against Indiana. The Big Ten has been eating itself alive this season and Michigan State is no exception. I find it hard to see a Big Ten team being ranked at the top of this list at any point this season because of the talent from top to bottom in the conference.
13. West Virginia (16-3)
West Virginia had two easy wins this past week, beating Texas and Missouri each by 20+ points. The Mountaineers have been on a role lately, outside of one game against Kansas State, and have arguably been playing the best basketball in the Big 12. I like WVU to keep it going and rivaling Kansas atop the standings.
14. Auburn (17-2)
The Tigers rebounded from the 0-2 week with two home wins against South Carolina and Iowa State. Auburn’s record is a bit deceiving because 17-2 is amongst the best in the country but really don’t have the quality wins you’d like to see at this point in the season. Bruce Pearl’s team is a true wildcard this year.
15. Seton Hall (15-4)
Seton Hall is back. The team has won 9 straight games and has taken down Maryland and Butler in that span. Myles Powell is one of the best players in the country and is doing a great job in leading his team to a solid ranking. The concern, as it has been for a couple of years, is how good is this team if Powell has an off night. They struggled a little when he was out with injury so we’ll see how consistent Powell can be.
16. Maryland (16-4)
Maryland has fallen off since it’s strong start to the reason but remains in contention with the other top teams. Like I mentioned before, the Big Ten is a mad house and no team is safe. The Terps are an inconsistent team but when things are clicking, they can beat just about anybody.
Next Five: Iowa, Illinois, Colorado, LSU, Butler
Players of the Week
1. Chris Duarte – Oregon
Chris Duarte graces this list for the second time this year thanks to an extraordinary week. In the 2OT win over USC, Duarte scored 30 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added an absurd 8 steals. He followed up this performance with a 24-point, 6-rebound, 5-assist and 6-steal outing against UCLA. Duarte was making an impact in all facets of the game.
2. Jalen Smith – Maryland
Jalen Smith scored a career-high 25 points against Northwestern. He also contributed 11 boards. Smith then broke his own record and scored a new career-high 29 points against Indiana. He also added another 11 rebounds. An all-time best week for a potential first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
3. Nick Richards – Kentucky
This entire season Nick Richards has been a pleasant surprise for Kentucky fans. This week he scored 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting and tallied 8 rebounds and 3 blocks against Georgia before going for 25 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks against Texas Tech.
4. Udoka Azubuike – Kansas
Udoka Azubuike is one of those players that you know is really good, but don’t hear their name too often. Well, this week he awoke some doubters after a 10-point, 14-rebound and 4-block performance along with an 18-point, 11-rebound and 4-block contest. He shot 10-for-12 from the field on the week.
5. Obi Toppin – Dayton
This came down to a toss up between Obi Toppin and Kamar Baldwin, and I ultimately gave the edge to Toppin. He shot 9-for-11 from the floor on his way to 18 points and 9 rebounds against St. Bonaventure and also shot 9-for-15 which resulted in 24 points to go along with 12 boards and 4 blocks. Toppin is flying up draft boards, and weeks like these are the reason why.