A true rare occurrence in college basketball, this week ranked teams almost went a perfect chalk. Furthermore, only one team in last week’s Power 16 suffered a loss and it was to another ranked team. While nobody should get used to this type of week as conference play will surely shake things up a bit, it made for what will be one of the most relaxing weeks of the season. Here are this uneventful week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.

Rank (Last week’s rank)
1. Duke
Coach K both tied and broke the record for
coaching wins by a No. 1 ranked team this week with wins over California
and Georgetown. Duke cruised to an easy win over Cal before beating Patrick
Ewing’s crew thanks a strong second half. Vernon Carey has
emerged as the big man Blue Devil fans hoped he would be, bringing back
memories of players like Marvin Bagley and Jahlil Okafor. While Duke should
handle their next two games by a margin of 20+ points, a looming matchup
with Michigan State could cause a scare in a look-ahead situation.
2. Louisville
The Cardinals survived a late-comeback
scare against Akron to improve to 6-0 on the season. Louisville doesn’t
have a quality win as of yet, but with upcoming matchups with Michigan and
Texas Tech in two weeks, we will see what this team is really made of. As
of now, they seem to be legit. The team checks all the boxes in what you
want out of a contender, we just need to see it translate from paper to
the hardwood.
3. Michigan State
Michigan State only played one
game this week, to a pitiful Charleston Southern team. Early in the season
we like to have a takeaway from the team each week based on what we saw,
unfortunately that is impossible with the Spartans. We know the team is
talented and coached exceptionally well, but tilts against Virginia Tech
and Duke around the corner we will see if they avenge their season-opening
loss to Kentucky and rattle off a couple quality wins.
4. Kansas
Similarly to Michigan State,
the Jayhawks only played one game this week against an underwhelming opponent
in ETSU. Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson both played
well and will continue to be the heart and soul of the Kansas offense. Those
two alone are good enough to lead Bill Self’s team deep into the postseason,
it’s just a matter of what role players can step up and potentially
launch them over the edge into greatness.
5. Gonzaga
The Zags were in a 6-point game
against UT Arlington, however I would argue the score didn’t reflect
how the game really went, especially in the second half. Outside of that
game, Gonzaga has been dominant against the weaker opponents they’ve
faced. We will have the luxury of seeing Mark Few’s squad go up against
the likes of Washington, Arizona and North Carolina is the upcoming weeks
to get a sense of if this is the year Gonzaga regresses or not.
6. Kentucky
The Wildcats have done about a good a job
as you can recovering from the embarrassing loss to Evansville. Kentucky
blew out Mt. St. Mary’s and Lamar by 20 and 25 points, respectively.
Nick Richards has been a pleasant surprise for Big Blue Nation,
rounding up a handful of impressive performances and providing a much-needed
presence in the post. John Calipari has yet another team loaded with potential.
7. North Carolina
Although it was against
Elon, Armondo Bacot had the type of game UNC needs at a consistent
level with 22 points and 14 boards. Despite how great Cole Anthony
may be, he will need help for the team to succeed in the long run and Bacot
has now shown the ability to be that key piece. The ACC is stacked with
contenders once again and UNC has an outside shot of being the best of the
8. Arizona
Arizona is absolutely
crushing everybody in their path so far this year. Five of six games have
been won by 20+, while four of six games have been won by 30+, even adding
a 48-point win in there. However, the Wildcats have not faced a real opponent
yet. They will get the chance to meet up with Baylor and Gonzaga, so we’ll
see if the trend of dominance can hold up.
9. Maryland
Maryland is very comparable
to Arizona so far. They’re wiping the floor with everyone, but the
competition is laughable for a Power 5 team. For now, we believe the Terps
have the best shot at taking down Michigan State in the Big Ten, but we
can’t be positive as of yet. Maryland will get their shot to prove
their worth in the near future, and I’m sure they will, but it’s
college basketball, you never know.
10. Oregon
The Ducks built off of
their win over Memphis with two easy wins over UT Arlington and Houston.
Arguably the team’s biggest challenge awaits early this week with Seton
Hall in the Battle 4 Atlantis. We know Oregon is a solid and respectable
team, and a win over the Pirates should cement them as a top-ten team in
the country. As of today, the Conference of Champions is Oregon’s to
11. Virginia
The defending national champions have been
unimpressive to say the least. While they are undefeated and (inexplicably)
have a first-place vote to their name, they just seem to be missing something.
The defense is as good as ever, allowing under 60 points in each game thus
far, but the offense doesn’t have the power to carry them as in past
seasons. The Cavaliers have skated past Vermont and Arizona State by single
digits and need to refine the offense in order to contend with the likes
of Duke, UNC and Louisville.
12. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders also have
an elite defense, but lack the level of competition to justify a top-ten
ranking as of today. Chris Beard has done a commendable job starting the
year without Jarrett Culver and off of a loss in the National Championship
and it will be exciting to see what this team can do in conference play.
If you ask me, Texas Tech and Kansas will be neck and neck once again.
13. Seton Hall
There’s not much
to takeaway from the Pirates this week. They clobbered Florida A&M,
as they should, and now look forward to a matchup with Oregon in which they
will be looking to earn a ranked win after losing to Michigan State earlier
this season. Myles Powell will likely need to be at his best for
Seton Hall to take down the Ducks, but it’d be nice to see the team
thrive even without a high output from Powell.
14. Ohio State
It’s crazy how something
can change so quick in the land of college basketball. A win over Villanova
seemed to be a statement, now with Nova suffering another loss, it’s
a question of how special that win was. Regardless, the Buckeyes are playing
well and crushing everyone that stands across from them. The team has two
more cupcake games before they get to clash with UNC in an important early
season game.
15. Memphis
We now know the fate of
James Wiseman and will be anticipating his return on Jan. 12,
but the team has slightly underperformed un his absence. This week the Tigers
won by 10 against Little Rock and narrowly held off Ole Miss in the final
seconds to win by one point. The young, talented team needs its big man
and if they can just survive until his return, Memphis will stay on this
16. Baylor
The Bears picked up a
win over Villanova this week which tentatively puts them into the Power
16. They do have a loss to Washington, but I believe the win outweighs the
loss. I do not think that Baylor is special or has the capabilities to cut
down the nets in March, but they’re a gritty team who can easily hang
around the bottom of this list in the coming weeks.
Next Five: Utah State, Xavier, Tennessee, Washington, VCU

Players of the Week:

1. Vernon Carey – Duke
The Blue Devil’s freshman came out of the gate strong this week, recording
a 31-point, 12-rebound, 4-block performance against California. He then tallied
20 points and 10 boards against Georgetown. It’s no secret that a pair
of 20+ and 10+ games will get you on this list, but the sheer dominance Carey
provided on the court can not be put into a stat sheet. This was a coming out
party for the big man.

2. Kofi Cockburn – Illinois
Another freshman big man find himself on the list, this time a 7-footer from
Illinois. Cockburn provided 18 points and 17 rebounds to start the week, and
closed the week by scoring 20 points and chasing down 13 boards. He was also
efficient, shooting 70 percent from the field in his two games.

3. Fatts Russell – Rhode Island
I always try and show some love to the smaller schools on this list and Fatts
Russell takes advantage of that this week. Outside of having one of the coolest
names in the country, he also has one of the most exciting games in the country.
This week he gave us a 24-point, 6-assisst, 5-steal performance, a 22-point,
3-steal outing and a 26-point, 8-assist, 3-steal showing. Keep an eye on Russell
moving forward.

4. Isaiah Stewart – Washington
Another freshman big man finds his way onto the list as Isaiah Stewart showed
why he coule be among the first names called in the next June’s NBA draft. He
put up 16 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks against Maine, scored 18 points in
just 15 minutes against Montana, and handed San Diego a 25-point, 7-rebound
showing all in one week.

5. Nick Richards – Kentucky
As mentioned above, Richards has been a force for the Wildcats this season.
He dropped 19 points on 7-10 shooting and added six rebounds against Mt. St.
Mary’s before a 10-point 13-rebounds outing against Lamar. Kentucky has
been in need of a big man and they might have found one.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.