College basketball power rankings: Kentucky jumps to No. 8 and Duke stays in top 10 after loss to NC State
Ahead of maybe the biggest weekend yet of the college hoops season, here are the hottest teams in the sport
It's time to reward the small schools with big records.
In this week's edition of the power rankings, we have two teams leaping into the proceedings that come from traditional one-big leagues. I won't spoil what teams they are; you need to scroll down and find out. This is a shoutout to the coaches and players who don't get a lot of attention but who have nonetheless continued to tally up wins and are doing so en route to what could be a Cinderella season.
The top of the power rankings has not changed -- the top six, that is. We do have some shifting within the top 10, and there are a couple of big schools just barely hanging out at the bottom of the Hey Nineteen.
In advance of a big-time weekend, here are the most impressive teams in college basketball in the past month-plus.
| 🔄 Previous: No. 1 | The 26-1 Bulldogs hold off Baylor ever so slightly. GU is the only team in college hoops with seven players averaging at least 10.0 points, the leading scorer being Filip Petrusev (17.6), who also leads the team in rebounds (8.0). Gonzaga has won 30 consecutive home games against San Francisco. It's likely to get to 31 on Thursday. |
|🔄 Previous: No. 2 | The Bears (24-1) are riding a program-record 23-game win streak, the longest for any Big 12 team since the conference evolved from the Big 8 in 1995. Here's another surprising stat: Baylor's gone five straight weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25. That's the longest streak atop the polls by any Texas team since Houston in 1968. Just 52 years ago, is all. The Cougars went eight straight weeks at No. 1 back then.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 3 | The 23-3 Jayhawks are going to try to avoid being swept by Baylor for the first time in school history. And not just that, there's never even been an instance where Baylor won two straight over Kansas, even if those scenarios would have come at Baylor and then in the Big 12 Tournament, or year-over-year. BU has never won two in a row vs. KU and has just six wins in program history against the Jayhawks. I'll be in Waco, Texas, this weekend for the biggest game of the season so far. If Kansas wins, it will overtake Baylor for the best No. 1 seed profile in college hoops.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 4 | I The 26-0 Aztecs are coming off a sweep of New Mexico with +51 point differential, the greatest disparity against UNM in a season series since 1996. That win last clinched the league for SDSU, doing so with four games remaining. The latest time any school clinched an outright regular season league title with as many as four regular season games remaining was the 2007-08 Davidson team with Stephen Curry that won the SoCon title. |
|🔄 Previous: No. 5 | It was big for Dayton to go into VCU and get a win in a building where the visiting team rarely wins. Not just that, but UD's 66-61 advancement past the Rams on Tuesday pretty much killed off VCU's at-large hopes (which is not good for the Atlantic 10). Dayton is probably two wins away from locking up a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. At 24-2, it's enjoying a 15-game winning streak for the first time since the 1957-58 season.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 6 | The Terrapins (22-4) have won nine straight games in league play for the first time since 2002, when Gary Williams' Terps (shouts to Lonnie Baxter) went on to win the national title. This nine-game stretch has seen Jalen Smith play into first team All-America status: 18.7 points and 12.7 boards per game, a double-double in every game, making him the first player since Xavier's David West more than 15 years ago to have nine straight double-doubles in nine straight wins.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 12 | Leave it to FSU to get to 22-4 and receive almost no attention. And to do so despite having two projected first-round picks on the roster in Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams. That doesn't account for Trent Forrest, who could work his way onto an NBA roster within two years. The Seminoles will keep scooting under the radar on their way to a No. 3 seed.|
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 13 | The 21-5 Wildcats are still toiling down at No. 28 in KenPom and No. 32 in Torvik. But John Calipari's team now has a two-game lead in the SEC ledger and so UK is going to win its 47th regular season conference championship. UK's next two games are home vs. Florida and at Texas A&M. Three of its final five games are at home. |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 14| The Bluejays are scorching hot. Creighton has won three road games vs. top 10 competition this month alone. A few weeks ago I told you CU was a good Elite Eight sleeper. That no longer qualifies. At 21-6, this team's record is too gaudy and its profile too prominent to be labeled a sleeper for anything but maybe a national title game run. The podcast above features a lot of Creighton chatter. |
|⤵️ Previous: No. 7 | The Blue Devils (22-4) lost by 22 points on Wednesday night at NC State (a Quad 1 loss, still). But here's a wowing stat: The last time Duke was in the top 10 and lost by more than 20 points to an unranked team was way back in 1979 when Mike Krzyzewski was still coaching at Army. What was interesting about the NC State loss was Vernon Carey Jr. had 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks and it was largely meaningless. Hmmm.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 9 | On Tuesday the Nittany Lions took their first loss in more than a month. It came at the sword of a desperate Illinois team, which got its best player (Ayo Dosunmu) back. Now 20-6 with its next game at Indiana on Sunday, Penn State still has a top-16 résumé in college hoops. |
| ⤵️ Previous: No. 11 | The Hall made things needlessly -- but thankfully, at least for me -- dramatic on Wednesday night with their buzzer-beating win over Butler. That gave Seton Hall a season sweep of the Bulldogs. It feels like those two are destined to play again at the Garden. Pirates still hold the lead in the Big East by one game above Creighton and ... |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 15 | Keep an eye on the 20-6 Wildcats. They end with four of their final six regular season games on the road, Wednesday's easy W at DePaul included. Then you'll have the random content generator that is the Big East Tournament. I would not be surprised to see Villanova land as a No. 5 with nine losses on Selection Sunday. And yet even if that happened, they'd be a delicious Elite Eight dark horse candidate. But if they play to their ceiling in these games, a No. 3 is still within reach.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 10 | After back-to-back losses, there was a players-only meeting to course-correct, and it worked for now. Louisville was dominant in its 90-66 win over a mediocre Syracuse team on Wednesday night. At 22-5, the Cardinals are now in a three-way tie with Duke and Florida State atop the conference standings. Chris Mack's team is shooting 40.7% from 3-point range in league play, best in the ACC. |
|⤴️ Previous: No. 19 | The 21-6 Cougars responded from a one-point overtime road loss at Houston with a blow-their-doors-off win against Tulsa, knocking the Golden Hurricane down in the AAC standings in the process. Kelvin Sampson doesn't quite have UH at lock status for the NCAA Tournament, but he can get it there in a week's time. If/when Houston makes the NCAA Tournament this season, it will mark the first time since 1984 that the Coogs got there in three straight years.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | Furman and UNC Greensboro -- that are vying for at-large status. The Bucs won 75-66 on Wednesday to split the season series with Furman and improve to 24-4. This is a team that should (but would it?) be in the field as an at-large if we seeded today. Steve Forbes' team has two of its final three regular-season games on the road and unfortunately probably needs to win all three to keep its profile in good standing.went into some detail about the SoCon and its three teams -- ETSU,|
| ⤴️ Previous: unranked | What if I told you that a low-major team pulled off one of the biggest statistical upsets in the history of regular season basketball, went on to win 23 out of 26 games, and received almost no attention despite the historic victory months earlier? That is where we're at with the 23-3 Lumberjacks, who are 14-1 in the Southland and have the top turnover defense in college basketball. SFA will not leave the power rankings until they lose, if they lose. |
|⤵️ Previous: No. 8 | The Tigers are a polarizing team, but I'm not going to punish them entirely here. Back-to-back road Ls spark a 10-spot drop for 22-4 Auburn, which is not getting booted out of the power rankings because it hasn't had Isaac Okoro -- probably it's best player -- for those two games. The losses game to Missouri and Georgia (teams that are a combined 26-26), but if Okoro is able to return in the next 5-15 days, Auburn can return to top-25 status.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 18 | Unless you're a KenPom devotee, you probably don't realize that it's these Mountaineers who have the No. 1-rated per possession defense in college basketball. They've been rolling as a top-three unit on that end of the floor for the majority of the past six weeks. WVU (19-7) clings to the rankings after ending a three-game losing skid by beating Oklahoma State 65-47, its first home win over OSU since 2016.|
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