College basketball power rankings: Gonzaga jumps over Baylor to retake No. 1 spot; Louisville slips
Matt Norlander's weekly rankings also have Kansas hopping over San Diego State and into the top three
The top shelf of college basketball is surprisingly dominant.
I want you to think about the numbers I'm about to inform you of when you hear half-truths from talking heads or drive-by commentators about the weakness of this season or lack of storylines.
The top seven teams in this week's power rankings -- all of whom are in the top 10 of the AP poll -- are on a 25-day undefeated streak. Since Jan. 19, San Diego State, Gonzaga, Dayton, Baylor, Kansas, Maryland and Duke are 43-0.
Expand that back to the start of 2020, and those seven teams are 75-5 since Jan. 1, with only one of those results a matter of having played each other (Baylor over Kansas). If you want to bring in other power-rankings teams, like Penn State, Louisville, Northern Iowa, Florida State, Kentucky and LSU, those 13 schools boast a collective win percentage above .900 in the past seven weeks.
So, let's hush-hush on how there are no good teams.
|⤴️ Previous: No. 2 | Gonzaga's laughably easily 90-60 win at 20-6 Saint Mary's convinced me to join Gary Parrish and rank the Zags No. 1 once more. The 25-1 Zags are the No. 1-ranked offense in college basketball and are beating opponents by an average of 21.7 points. If Gonzaga can hold off Dayton to have the best offensive efficiency in college basketball, it will rank No. 1 in back-to-back years. Across 21 seasons as Gonzaga's coach, Mark Few has had the No. 16 offense on average, which is an impressively high number, regardless of conference. GU has never been worse than 45th. |
|⤵️ Previous: No. 1 | Winning streaks do not prevent you from falling in these here power rankings. Baylor (22-1) remains the No. 1 team in both polls, but it takes a one-slot slip here on the heels of -- for the first time this season -- playing back-to-back games in which it played down to its competition. BU won by eight at home in a sloppy game over the weekend against last-place Oklahoma State, then won 52-45 against Texas, in just a hideous game. But in terms of résumé, no doubt the Bears are an easy No. 1 overall.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 5 | I am true to my word, Kansas fans. A win, and an authoritative one, 58-49 at West Virginia bumps you up the power rankings. Wednesday's victory was good in a few ways. KU (21-3) only had six points from Udoka Azubuike, but his lack of offensive presence was irrelevant because the Mountaineers had their water turned off. Kansas scored 13 of the game's final 14 points. It also saw a welcomed emergence from Isaiah Moss, who hit three 3-pointers and had 13 points. Kansas and Baylor are a combined 13-0 Big 12 roadies, while the rest of the league is 9-35.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 3 | I haven't heard this put out there yet, so let me be the "first" on a stat you might hear more frequently in a couple of weeks: if SDSU (25-0) gets to the NCAA Tournament without a scar, it will become the 20th team in men's Division I history to enter the NCAAs with an undefeated record. The first was San Francisco in 1956, and the most recent was Kentucky in 2015. A slippery game awaits Sunday, when the Aztecs play a 17-9 Boise State team that's won five of its past six. |
|⤵️ Previous: No. 4 | It's impressive of the Flyers to win by six at home against pesky Saint Louis last Saturday -- inducing Rhode Island into a sense of false confidence -- and then punk Rhody by 14 on Tuesday. Dayton is 22-2, 11-0 in the Atlantic 10 with road games against UMass and VCU on tap. VCU's home loss to George Mason on Wednesday might have put the Rams out of the NCAA Tournament picture, which is damaging to a Dayton team trying to win out for a chance at a No. 1 seed. |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 8 | The Terrapins are the only Big Ten team with a shot at a No. 1 seed now. Coming off wins at Illinois and home against Nebraska (a close-shave two-point win), Maryland is 20-4 with a seven-game winning streak. Jalen Smith is screaming toward First Team All-America discussion. During this winning streak Smith is averaging 18.7 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and has found himself in foul trouble just once. He has taken The Leap. |
|⤴️ Previous: No. 9 | The 21-3 Blue Devils have played three consecutive games in which they won but could have easily lost. Against Boston College on Feb. 4, Duke trailed with less than seven minutes remaining but won despite 1-of-15 3-point shooting. Against UNC, well, you know the story but here'son it if you want to take it all in again. And on Monday, Duke held off Florida State at home 70-65. The Blue Devils won in each game but covered in none. Vernon Carey Jr. has been very good and now he might need to be great to lift Duke into the No. 1-seed conversation.|
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 10 | Auburn has gone 5-0 in overtime games ... with three of those wins coming in the Tigers' past three games! This is a 22-2 team that KenPom hates (32nd overall) but has a knack for winning close. To absolutely no surprise, Auburn rates No. 1 in luck at KenPom as well. In beating Alabama 95-91 in OT on Wednesday, Auburn outlived the Tide taking 59 3-pointers, making 22 of them. It's the most 3-pointers in a game by a Division I team since 2009 (VMI). The teams combined for 90 3-point attempts. Also important: we wait on word for how severe the hamstring injury is for Tigers freshman wing Isaac Okoro, who left late in the second half. |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 12 | The Nittany Lions are the fastest-rising team in the power rankings. With seven consecutive wins, Penn State (19-5) is cuddling up with the likes of Gonzaga, San Diego State, Maryland, Kansas and Dayton as the hottest teams in the country. And with a 7-3 Quad 1 mark, the Nittany Lions are just about a lock for the NCAA Tournament. (Disclaimer: if you are to use the term "lock," it means a team can 100% afford to lose every remaining game and still without hesitation get an at-large bid. There is no unlocking a lock in these parts.) At this point, Penn State has a terrific chance to match or best the highest seed in program history, the No. 5 it received in 1996.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 7 | The Cardinals get dinged but not too hard. That's basically because every team below this spot took a loss in the past 10 days anyway. The 64-58 Wednesday road loss to 12-13 Georgia Tech was bad, primarily because Jordan Nwora went milk-carton-man, scoring only two points on six shots. The game was ugly. It was the Yellow Jackets' first win against a top-five team in more than four years, which is about 10 years more recent than I thought. Louisville (21-4) has Clemson on the road this weekend.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 11 | I can't punish the Pirates that much. A 1-1 week, the win coming at Villanova (first win there in 26 years), then a competitive, compelling home loss Wednesday to rising Creighton, whose credentials are swiftly laid out a few spots down from this one. Seton Hall is 18-6 and still has a two-game lead in the Big East. It's going to be fine. The Hall is still one of the 12 best teams in college basketball. It lost in no small part because Myles Powell was an ugly 3-of-16 and crawled to 12 points. |
|⤵️ Previous: No. 7 | The Seminoles (20-4) got eight steals from Trent Forrest alone in the upset bid gone awry Monday against Duke. FSU ranks top-10 nationally in steals, but more than that it's still No. 1 in block percentage (17.3). FSU should remain steady, as its next two games come at home against Syracuse and Pittsburgh. |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 17 | An under-discussed aspect of this Kentucky team is it's pretty clearly considered the second-worst team in John Calipari's tenure, according to metrics. UK is 19-5 but only No. 27 at KenPom. The same is true at BartTorvik.com (sort of a cousin to KenPom, but lots of great research to bat there as well), which ranks UK No. 29. The NIT team of 2013 was 55th at KenPom and 58th at Torvik. The second-worst team, aside from this year's? The 2017-18 team that went 26-11 and got a 5 seed. It was 17th at KenPom and 20th at Torvik. |
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | Creighton (19-6) flies into the proceedings and has a wonderful chance of not leaving for the rest of the regular season. With six games left on the Big East slate, Creighton gets four of those at home. The Jays have two wins on the road against top-10 competition this season (Seton Hall, Villanova). Only the Hall and Florida State can claim the same. Greg McDermott's team is 6-1 since the middle of January and owns an 18-1 record when it hits 70 points. Creighton is a true Elite Eight sleeper at this stage of the season.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 15 | Results-based metrics are friendlier to Villanova as of now than predictive ones. On average, the Wildcats (18-6) rank 15th in NET, KPI and Strength of record. In KenPom, Sagarin and BPI, Nova's 25th. That's not a massive gap, but if those margins remain going forward, keep it in mind. We could have a situation where Villanova is seeded one -- maybe two -- lines better than its DNA says it should be. I still think Nova can make noise in the tournament, but the next three games are on the road so its résumé may take some more scars.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 16 | Will Wade's team should have won at Auburn. But Auburn went Auburn last Saturday, pulling off a 91-90 overtime win that, from a probability standpoint, was almost as unlikely as Duke overcoming what it did to beat UNC. LSU (18-6) recovered to hold on by four at home against Missouri on Tuesday. The Bayou Bengals rank No. 4 in points per possession and have three of their next four on the road, the lone home game coming against Kentucky.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 19 | A 71-63 Wednesday home win over Illinois State improved the Panthers to 22-3 and kept them two games clear in the Missouri Valley standings. : there are five 3-point threats on the roster, but more interestingly, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse's advice in the offseason to Panthers coach Ben Jacobson has made an impact on how Northern Iowa plays and why it's been so good. |
|⤵️ Previous: No. 14 | The Mountaineers are white-knuckle-clenching the rope to remain in the power rankings, holding off the likes of Butler, Marquette, Colorado, East Tennessee State and Stephen F. Austin. Wednesday's game saw WVU score only .73 points per possession against Kansas, its worst PPP game of the season. WVU is now 6-5 in the Big 12 but 18-6 on the whole. To stay in next week's rankings, it is going to need to win its next game ... which is at Baylor on Saturday.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | Houston's only losses in the past two months have come on the road by a total of four points against Tulsa and Cincinnati, who are tied for second place and a game behind UH in the loss column in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars are the third-best offensive rebounding team in America, snagging 38.5% of their misses, which is necessary to their 20-5 record. Houston ranks 210th in college hoops in 2-point percentage (48.3).|
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