Disclaimer and correction: CBS Sports reached out to Houston Athletics prior to posting this week's power rankings to seek the last time the Cougars hosted a top-10 matchup. Houston's record book indicated the only other time it happened was 1966. After these power rankings went to publication, Houston subsequently discovered a longstanding oversight and error in its records and issued a notice of correction to the media. Instead of New Mexico, Houston in fact played the University of Albuquerque to start its season in 1966. The previous intro to these power rankings read as such ...
The year was 1966. Elvin Hayes, Melvin Bell and Don Chaney were the stars on a Houston team that opened its season at home against New Mexico. This was back when college basketball seasons didn't start until December and the AP poll was 10 teams, not 25. The Cougars were ranked No. 7 to start that season. They welcomed in the Lobos, who were ranked No. 6. Houston's Delmar Field House was the site of the game, which ended in a 96-84 Cougars win.
It was, as it turns out, historic. Because the famed "Game of the Century" in 1968 between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Houston was not at Houston's home venue, but instead at the Astrodome.
Making that 1966-67 season opener the only time Houston has hosted a top-10 matchup.
Until this Saturday, that is. The Cougars welcome in Alabama for a return game in their home-and-home series. Alabama won controversially last season (in a top-15 affair) 83-82 after possible goaltending on Houston's final shot near the rim was deemed a no-call. It should be a terrific tilt, and this is yet another moment for reflection on the outrageously impressive job Kelvin Sampson has done getting UH back to national prominence.
Both teams are in my top 10. Let's get to the rankings.
Illinois a top-five team? How do we grade Duke? The latest episode of Eye on College Basketball.
Hey Nineteen Power Rankings
Reminder: My rankings are not solely about whom I think is "best." The Hey Nineteen is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most interesting teams in college basketball, combining team quality with win quality but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks. Courteous feedback is always encouraged: @MattNorlander.
|Record: 9-0 | Last week: 1. Matt Painter's Boilermakers continue to assert their dominance and show little signs of weakness. A pair of 19-point home wins over Minnesota and Hofstra came in the past week. Zach Edey's averages have increased to 23.2 points and 13.3 rebounds. Purdue's 21 consecutive nonconference wins are good for the longest streak in America.|
|Record: 10-0 | Last week: 5. The lone 10-0 team as of Thursday. With the 75-54 road dismissal of Florida on Wednesday night, UConn now has five consecutive double-digit wins over high-major teams and has yet to win a game by fewer than 10 points. This is a national championship contender and one of the best stories of the first five weeks of the season. The Huskies are the best team in the Big East right now — and it ain't close — as they're only team to rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency at Kenpom.com.|
|Record: 8-0 | Last week: 2. The Cavaliers got knocked off on the road a year ago at James Madison. On Tuesday, they held on with a 55-50 win at home against the Dukes. To be fair, JMU ranks in the top 80 of multiple predictive metrics. We're awaiting word on Reece Beekman, who left Tuesday's game early with what was described as a leg injury. Given he could be a first-round NBA pick eventually, let's hope the diagnosis isn't severe. |
|Record: 9-0 | Last week 3. The Cougars got into a rock fight with Saint Mary's on Saturday, holding off the Gaels in a 53-48 finish. Then, it was an afterthought 76-42 beatdown of North Florida on Tuesday, which sets up the biggest game in Houston since the 1960s. Houston is a terrific 3-point defensive team and Alabama loves to launch. Advantage: Houston.|
|Record: 8-1 | Last week: 9. The Volunteers have been off the radar because their past three games have come at home against McNeese State, Alcorn State and Eastern Kentucky. On Sunday is a goodie, though, vs. Maryland in Brooklyn. Rick Barnes said Wednesday night that his best player, Santiago Vescovi, has an improving left shoulder and is probable to play vs. the Terrapins after missing the past two games. |
|Record: 7-2 | Last week: 12. Have to scoot the Illini up after the way they fought hard on the road against Maryland and then pulled out that overtime win over Texas on Tuesday at MSG. Read more on that defining win . |
|Record: 6-1 | Last week: 4. I'm not knocking the Longhorns much after losing to Illinois. Had Marcus Carr made a couple of different decisions in the final few possessions, Texas probably wins. As it stands, UT has four of its next five vs. buy-game competition, the lone exception being a contest against Stanford in Dallas. I expect this team to hover between No. 3 and No. 7 here in the rankings at least until the Big 12 opener at Oklahoma on New Year's Eve.|
|Record: 8-1 | Last week: 10. The most intriguing game of the weekend is Kansas' return to Missouri to play the 9-0 Tigers (who are not in this week's rankings on account of a very easy schedule; they'll be included next Thursday if they beat the Jayhawks). The last time KU went to MU was 2012 in a battle between two top-10 teams that were a combined 38-6. It was the final year of the Big 12 rivalry and so the anticipation was sky-high. This one isn't quite that nationally, but it's a huge deal locally and should wind up as a Quad 1 win for the victor. Credit to the schools for finally agreeing to return to the Border War. KU won last year's game 102-65. This one will be much closer.|
|Record: 7-1 | Last week: 6. We've still got a few more neutral-site games to cover before we're in home/road venues for the remainder of the regular season. The Wildcats have a tasty tip awaiting on Saturday (Fox, 10:30 p.m. ET) against Indiana in what's being billed as "The Las Vegas Clash." Arizona slipped this week after its 81-66 loss at Utah on Dec. 1. All of Arizona's starters are shooting 56% or better from 2-point range.|
|Record: 7-1 | Last week: 14. Far as I'm concerned, it's a house-money situation for the Crimson Tide this weekend. Nate Oats' team will be a five- or six-point underdog at Houston. Lose, and you shake it off with little damage to your reputation (unless UH rolls by 15-plus). Win, and suddenly you'll be viewed as an SEC wagon and a team with Final Four potential. Houston's been better so far, but keep an eye for Bama freshman Brandon Miller, who's been as good as just about any first-year player in college hoops. |
|Record: 8-1 | Last week: 7. While NBA players notch triple-doubles on a weekly basis, they are far less common in college basketball, where the games are 40 minutes long instead of 48. Trayce Jackson Davis' 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in IU's 81-65 win over Nebraska marked just the third time in program history a Hoosier notched a triple-double. The others: Steve Downing (1971) and Juwan Morgan (2018).|
|Record: 8-1 | Last week: 11. The undefeated run came to an end with Tuesday night's trip to Wisconsin (64-59). Kevin Willard's team found itself in an ugly game and couldn't burrow its way out in time. It was the second game in a high-profile four-tilt stretch. Maryland got the home win last Friday over Illinois. Next is Tennessee on Sunday at the Barclays Center, and following that is a home matchup with a good UCLA team next Wednesday. If the Terps can split the next two, they'll remain in next week's Nineteen.|
|Record: 8-1 | Last week: 17. The Razorbacks got a feisty flurry of punches from UNC Greensboro on Tuesday night before coming up for air in a 65-58 win. The victory was Pyrrhic in nature: Trevon Brazile tore his ACL, ending his season. Brazile, a 6-foot-10 stretch four, was one of the top breakout guys in the country through the first month of the season. This shaves off a little of Arkansas' potential, I'm afraid; no one else on that team does what he does. Brazile had become an NBA prospect, but had work to do to secure a first-round reputation. I wonder if he'll ever play another game in college.|
|Record: 8-0 | Last week: 16. Why I love college hoops: This is only Week 2 of the Hey Nineteen and I'm adorning these rankings with teams I didn't think would sniff this space this season. Count the Bulldogs in that group. They're good so far not just because they've got a top-10 defense, but because they're rebounding 41% of their misses, which is the best O-board rate in America. Next up: At struggling Minnesota on Sunday.|
|Record: 9-1 | Last week: 19. The Hurricanes got themselves into a track meet against Cornell on Wednesday night. Miami beat the Big Red 107-105 ... and the game didn't even get to overtime. Canes star guard Isaiah Wong had a personal-best 36 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Five Cornell players scored at least 13 points and might've won the game if not for Norchad Omier blocking Max Watson on the last shot. Miami has NC State at home on Saturday. This is the fourth time in 12 years Miami has started 9-1 or better through 10 games under Jim Larrañaga.|
|Record: 9-1 | Last week: NR. How about the Hurley brothers, a combined 19-1! Both living large right now, and I think it's equal parts surprising with how UConn and ASU are playing compared to preseason expectations. For Bobby Hurley's Sun Devils, two road wins in their past three games (Colorado, SMU) clinched their candidacy this week. ASU came back from a five-point deficit at SMU on Wednesday night to win 75-57, marking the 36th time Arizona State has won a game after trailing at halftime under Hurley. And doing all this in spite of Marcus Bagley removing himself from the team. |
|Record: 8-0 | Last week: 15. The Tigers' only result since last week's Hey Nineteen was a 93-66 home win blow-by of Colgate. There are some Auburn skeptics out there, but this is one of 10 unbeatens still standing, and given Pearl's track record, the Tigers are worthy of inclusion. Teams are shooting 55.2% from the foul line against the Tigers, the worst rate in the country and destined to tick up once the competition stiffens. No team has been lucky enough to have opponents shoot worst than 60% from the line against them in more than two decades.|
|Record: 9-2 | Last week: NR. The Blue Devils hop into the rankings this week after beating Ohio State and Iowa in the previous seven days. For more on Duke, I wrote a column Wednesday on , which is essentially why this team deserves to be ranked here. Its only losses have come on neutral courts against two top-10 teams: Purdue and Kansas.|
|Record: 9-1 | Last week: NR. The Hokies are in this week after getting consecutive home wins against massively underachieving preseason Top 25 teams: 80-72 over North Carolina on Sunday; 77-49 against Dayton on Wednesday. Those wins will not look as good on the résumé down the road as Mike Young was hoping for a month ago, but at 9-1 no coach will be picky. Hokies get a need-to-prove it Oklahoma State team on Sunday in Brooklyn.|