Unrelated to the power rankings this week, I wanted to share with you some interesting data.
Michigan State associate athletic director Kevin Pauga, who is also the proprietor of KPI Sports, ran the scheduling data for Division I men's college basketball after I requested a simple query: How many nonconference games have we had this season vs. the past two seasons?
The answer: 845.
In 2019-20, college basketball had 2,002 nonconference games. In 2018-19, the number was 2,063. Keep that 845 number mind when you read analysis on metrics or hear people talking about them in the next month. Know that approximately 58% of college basketball's nonconference slate did not factor into rankings this season. It's not a huge indictment on the legitimacy of those metrics, but by not having more than 1,100 data points, the data is inherently distorted from what it otherwise would have been.
And we'll never have the answer on what things would have otherwise looked like. So that's fun! OK, let's get to MY data for this week.
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Hey Nineteen Power Rankings
Norlander's Hey Nineteen is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest and/or most successful teams in college basketball, combining team quality with win quality but also leaving no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks.
|🔄Last week: No. 1 | Record: 22-0. Because Baylor has been on pause since Feb. 2, and Gonzaga's continued to mutilate WCC opponents, the Bulldogs have further distanced themselves in efficiency margin at KenPom. As of Tuesday morning, Gonzaga was +3.51 points at KenPom ahead of Baylor in adjusted efficiency margin. The two teams were flip-flopping the top spot in AdjEM prior to Baylor's COVID-19 halt three weeks ago. The Zags are now in the vicinity of a 95% chance to be undefeated on Selection Sunday, should they choose to play in the WCC tournament.|
|🔄Last week: No. 2 | Record: 17-0. The Bears get an ideal return-to-action opponent when their 21-day pause ends Tuesday night: 2-16 Iowa State comes to town. The Cyclones are in the midst of one of their worst seasons ever, now ranking 162nd at KenPom. Baylor's next three games are in flux, according to sources. The Thursday game vs. West VIrginia is likely to get moved, in addition to many other Big 12 matchups next week. More information is expected to be announced by the league office Tuesday afternoon. |
|⤴️Last week: No. 4 | Record: 16-1. Is Michigan now on Gonzaga and Baylor's level? I can't say that with 100% confidence yet. Those two teams are both undefeated and Michigan is not. Michigan has a shorthanded 18-point road loss at a Minnesota team that's now dangerously flirting with missing the NCAA Tournament. But Michigan is at worst the third-best team in America and Juwan Howard is the strongest national coach of the year candidate not named Mark Few or Scott Drew. Considering everything Howard's done this season to get Michigan to where it is, perhaps he should be in line ahead of those two. (Gonzaga and Baylor were both projected No. 1 seeds a season ago, remember.) Sunday's win was magnificent and this is a marvelous team to watch.|
|🔻Last week: No. 3 | Record: 18-5. I'm not going to bump Ohio State more than one spot for its home loss to Michigan. It was OSU's first loss in more than a month; this team has two losses since Jan. 3. No. 4 is still fair. Sunday's game, a day after Illinois steamrolled Minnesota, was affirmation that the Big Ten is highly likely to have two No. 1 seeds this year. If and when that happens it will be the third time in conference history the B1G's accomplished this. The two previous times were 2001 (Illinois and Michigan State) and 1993 (Indiana and Michigan).|
|⤴️Last week: No. 7 | Record: 18-5. The small signs a coach loves to see at this point in the season, regardless of opponent: your team's bench puts up 57 points. I'm sorry, what? FIFTY-SEVEN POINTS? Alabama's bench had 57, Vanderbilt's bench had 10 in the Tide's too-close-for-comfort 82-78 home win Saturday. Jaden Shackelford is Nate Oats' secret weapon; he had a season-high 27 points. I'll have much more later this week here on CBSSports.com about Alabama, so swing back around soon.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 8 | Record: 13-3. Do not be thrown by the Seminoles working their way up to No. 6. This team has one loss in 2021 -- yes, there was a COVID pause mixed in -- but Leonard Hamilton's club has won eight of its past nine games and now sits alone atop the ACC standings. Raiquan Gray is the breakout ACC player this season. He's scored in double figures in eight straight games and is averaging 16.4 points in that span, with FSU going 7-1. In Gray's eight games prior, to start the season, he averaged 7.0 points.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 11 | Record: 16-5. Illinois has looked as impressive as any team in the past two weeks. Brad Underwood's won seven straight -- the next win will mark his longest winning streak since he was coaching Stephen F. Austin in 2015-16. In a span of four games Ayo Dosunmu has logged two triple-doubles, the more-recent one happening Saturday at Minnesota (19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). Illinois has four triple-doubles in program history; Dosunmu is responsible for half of 'em. This team's a machine at the moment, and it probably badly wants to play Minnesota again in the Big Ten tourney because in two games this season Illinois is averaging 91.0 points and Minnesota 64.0.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 12 | Record: 14-3. Hey, that was a needed Quad 1 win Saturday for Villanova. The 68-60 home victory against UConn gave the Wildcats some positive direction. VU had four players in double figures, which was needed considering the Wildcats overcame 5-of-22 3-point shooting, its worst display of the season. I maintain Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is Second Team All-America material. He had 17 and 11. Nova's next game comes tonight vs. St. John's, which it lost to Feb. 3.|
|🔻Last week: No. 6 | Record: 18-3. Now here's a good stat, per Elias: Houston's last 124 games do not feature back-to-back losses. That's the longest streak in the country. That's a major credit to Kelvin Sampson, and obviously an eye-popping fact. Credit to Sampson for this as well: Houston agreed to play Western Kentucky this Thursday, at Houston, in a nonconference affair. WKU is trying to help its at-large chances, while UH figures a win like this would boost its last chances to be a No. 2 seed.|
|🔻Last week: No. 5 | Record: 19-4. The Trojans played three times since our last meet-up here, going 2-1 with the loss coming at home against Arizona. Did you see the 72-58 win over Oregon on Monday night? It was a 14-point win that felt closer to 40. I tell you this: USC is the best true dark horse Final Four pick as of today. Length, size, defense, talent, depth. It doesn't have every piece ... but it has a lot of them. Being that it's a West Coast team not named Gonzaga, it's also got great value. With the right draw, this group can win four in Indianapolis.|
|🔻Last week: No. 9 | Record: 14-5. The Hokies' long layoff (last played Feb. 6) ends Tuesday night. Georgia Tech heads into Cassell Coliseum in a must-win for the Yellow Jackets. It's also a must-win for Virginia Tech's ACC title hopes. Mike Young's team is one game behind Florida State, which it is not scheduled to face this season. VT catches a break after this pause in that its next three games are all at home.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 14 | Record: 14-5. Austin Reaves continues to shine. He'll be a First Team All-Big 12 guy in a very good conference. Reaves scored 20 points in OU's win over Iowa State on Saturday. Sooners have won eight of nine and have the résumé of a No. 3 seed at this stage. Umoja Gibson (via North Texas) and Elijah Harkless (via Cal State Northridge) have proven to be valuable up-transfers after playing in obscurity the past few seasons.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 16 | Record: 13-5. West Virginia has developed a warranted reputation in the past decade under Bob Huggins as the most rugged, hardest-to-kill team in the Big 12. Few leads are safe. It will play as tough up 15 as it will down 15. On Saturday, WVU came back from a 19-point deficit to win in somewhat controversial fashion at Texas. It was the second time this season WVU climbed out of a 19-point second-half hole and won. (Oklahoma was the other.) WVU held UT to 29 points in the second 20 minutes and shot 37 foul shots to Texas' 10.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 15 | Record: 24-1. Last week's Court Report detailed Belmont's interesting situation. The record is impressive. Through no fault of Belmont, and entirely because of the coronavirus, the team hasn't played a top-100 opponent. The selection committee needs to take all of this into account if Belmont doesn't get the auto bid, or even if it does and how it should be seeded. My take: If Belmont winds up 28-1, it should be a single-digit seed. It's won its last 21 games by an average of 17 points.|
|⤴️Last week: N/R | Record: 17-6. Trivia Time! Which teams have the most wins against ranked opponents this season? This would be wins against opponents that were ranked at the time of the game. Obviously since we're in the Iowa portion, one of those teams is the Hawkeyes. The only other is Kansas; they each have six. The Hawkeyes have found their footing as of late. After losing four of five from Jan. 21-Feb. 7, Fran McCaffery's team has won four in a row and now is prepping for its second-toughest game of the season: at Michigan on Thursday. Iowa and U-M split last season, with Michigan winning on its home floor 103-91.|
|🔄Last week: No. 16 | Record: 19-4. The Ramblers are 10th at KenPom and I feel like nobody but me is recognizing on a daily basis just how insane this is. This is not a two- or even three-loss team. It goes to show how dominant the Ramblers have been, even if they are probably slightly overvalued in that predictive metric. Two very winnable games are left on the regular-season docket this weekend. Southern Illinois comes to town. Should LUC win those, I'd label it a lock for the NCAA Tournament.|
|🔄Last week: No. 17 | Record: 16-5. No games in the past week for Creighton, which did not lose a game in Big East play and is twiddling its thumbs before its next matchup Wednesday vs. DePaul. The Bluejays are four wins away from another 20-win season. If they get there, it will mark the 10th time in 11 seasons under Greg McDermott that Creighton has hit at least 20 victories.|
|🔻Last week: No. 10 | Record: 15-5. Tony Bennett's team takes another tumble following a second straight road loss. UVA was a half-second away from winning on an airball-to-dunk conversion from Jay Huff, but no. Virginia has NC State and Miami at home this week. It also, curiously, has only one win against a likely NCAA Tournament team (at Clemson). Somehow, Virginia's holding on to a NET ranking of 9.|
|🔄Last week: No. 19 | Record: 17-5. The Razorbacks played once since last week's Hey Nineteen, winning 75-64 at home against Florida. At 9-4 in the SEC, Arkansas is tied with LSU for second place in the standings. A rematch between those two comes Saturday on Arkansas' home floor. LSU won the first game 92-76. The winner of that will probably have the No. 2 seed in the league bracket. But first: vs. Alabama Wednesday night.|