With the regular season complete, we've arrived at the final 2020-21 edition of the Hey Nineteen. One week from now we'll be baking our bracket picks and ensconced in glee over the return of the NCAA Tournament after a two-year break.
This last version of the power rankings does feature some newcomers. For those who are just now starting to dive into the teams in advance of Selection Sunday, you'll notice that my top 19 teams do not correspond with bracket forecasts. You can see where each team below projects into the field of 68 by heading over to our Bracketology hub, where Jerry Palm is updating matters daily.
With the exception of top-ranked Gonzaga, every team moved its spot this week. Let's go one more lap around before the big conference tournaments get going.
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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: 25-0. Gonzaga's win Monday night in the WCC semifinals vs. Saint Mary's ended as expected: with another blowout (78-55). The Bulldogs have won 22 straight games by double digits, which is something only a handful of teams in college basketball have ever done. Gonzaga's also clinched a 25-win season for the 14th straight year, which is one behind Kansas' mark of 15 that is sitll ongoing but needs six more wins to be extended. They're the two longest win streaks of their kind ever. Duke's streak of 13 straight 25-win seasons will likely end this year. If you've got the courage to pick anyone but Gonzaga to make it to the Final Four in their region of the bracket, bless your heart. Bulldogs will play BYU Tuesday night for the WCC crown.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 3 | Record: 21-1. Any and all lingering rust was blasted to vapor Sunday when Baylor got a record-setting 10-of-12 3-point shooting display from senior MaCio Teague. The Bears enveloped Texas Tech 78-55 and finished their first undefeated season at home in 73 years. College basketball is not short on high-level teams this season, but as of now it feels like we all deserve Gonzaga vs. Baylor for the national championship. I'll take any matchup the bracket spits out on April 5, but Bears vs. Bulldogs has the most potential to be the greatest game. |
|⤴️Last week: No. 4 | Record: 20-6. With a 16-4 league mark, Illinois has set a school record for most wins in a single season in their 100-plus-year Big Ten history. Illinois has also given us my favorite image of the season so far: Trent Frazier's ersatz, impromptu "B1G CHAMPIONS" plaque from over the weekend has added some real spice to this rivalry with Michigan. Be it in the Big Ten Tournament and/or the NCAA Tournament, I'd love to see these teams face off one more time. Illinois fans don't want or need it, though -- they already saw Illinois win without Ayo Dosunmu on Michigan's floor. Now Dosunmu is back and wearing that sweet, black mask for the rest of the month. Ready for it!|
|🔻Last week: No. 3 | Record: 19-3. Juwan Howard provided no update Monday on the health status of forward Eli Brooks, who left in the first half of Michigan's loss Sunday at Michigan State. The Wolverines have dropped two of their past three. Their next game will be vs. the winner of Wednesday's Michigan State-Maryland matchup. Michigan swept Maryland by a combined 35 points this season. Fair to presume Howard would rather see the Terps Thursday, as Maryland's lost two straight to Northwestern and Penn State.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 6 | Record: 20-7. Iowa did a wonderful thing Sunday, choosing to surprise Luka Garza by announcing that his No. 55 would be retired into the rafters of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This is a no-brainer choice, and to make sure to deliver this news to him in person, while he was on the court, after a Senior Day win and in the midst of a national-player-of-the-year season was such a sweet touch. The Hawkeyes head into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 3 seed and we await to see how severe Joe Wieskamp's ankle injury is. There's not a lot of reason for Fran McCaffery to play him if it's still tender. Iowa seems almost fated to the 2-line no matter what transpires in Indianapolis. |
|🔻Last week: No. 5 | Record: 21-3. I can do nothing else except give praise to freshman Tramon Mark for his prayer of a buzzer-beater that beat Memphis on CBS Sunday in the Cougars' regular-season finale. We are starting this month right. That is some marvelous March Madness karma. As for the play, when's the last time you can recall a buzzer-beater unfolding like that? Under two seconds remaining, a bounce pass to midcourt, then a double-team (but no foul) and a heave off the glass to win? What? We'll be lucky beyond belief if this year's NCAA Tournament provides an ending more unlikely than that.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 8 | Record: 21-5. Eric Musselman told me he recently pulled a calf muscle in practice guarding his players. The man's in his mid-50s. A lead-by-example guy. And he's dealing with a sore hip, too. His team is on fire, though. An average of 84.9 points in its past seven wins. The Razorbacks will collide with No. 3 seed LSU in the SEC semifinals if the teams play to expectation. They split in the regular season. I think that game has the potential to be the most entertaining the SEC Tournament could provide.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 9 | Record: 21-6. The Crimson Tide are the top seed in the SEC Tournament, but I've got them one slot below Arkansas because Arkansas has a better record in the past eight games (8-0 vs. 6-2), including a win against Bama. But I do like Nate Oats' team to win the SEC Tournament. If that happens, Alabama will enter the NCAAs as the trendiest non-1-seed pick to win it all. This team is capable. It's a blast to watch. And a shoutout to Jordan Sperber, who did an analysis of our analysis of how Oats runs his system.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 11 | Record: 18-7. Scott Drew won coach of the year in the Big 12, but Mike Boynton deserves big consideration as well. Baylor wins the league by five games, it's understandable. But Boynton certainly outpaced expectations. OSU has a shot at a No. 3 seed still, should it play well in the Big 12 Tournament. Freshman Cade Cunningham won Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year, becoming the fourth person in history to do that. The others: OSU's Marcus Smart (2012-13), Kansas State's Michael Beasley (2007-08) and Texas' Kevin Durant (2006-07). Pokes are 6-1 in their past seven, the only loss coming at Baylor.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 16 | Record: 20-4. The Aztecs round out the final top 10, doing so one year after being a projected No. 2 seed in the canceled 2020 NCAA Tournament. Brian Dutcher's team is the top seed in the Mountain West bracket again, and if it can beat Boise State for a third time in four games (should the teams meet in the semifinals), a rewarding seed should be on its way from the selection committee. The name most knowledgable college basketball fans know is Matt Mitchell, who is good, but for my money it's 46% 3-point shooter Jordan Schakel w who gives SDSU a second-weekend ceiling.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 13 | Record: 24-4. Congrats to the Ramblers, who are MVC champions and seem poised to earn the best seed in program history. What that will be I don't know, but you do need to keep this in mind: by every metric, this team is better than the one that went to the Final Four. It doesn't mean this team will get there (who's gonna have the earnest courage to predict that?), but it does mean that if you write the Ramblers into your Sweet 16, there will be data to back your decision. I think putting Loyola on the 6-line would be deserved.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 14 | Record: 19-8. The Jayhawks had a weird Thursday. They trailed much of their regular-season finale at home vs. UTEP, a late-stage nonconference affair Bill Self scheduled to keep his team's legs fresh in order to avoid a week-plus layoff before the Big 12 Tournament. KU's won seven of eight, its lone loss at Texas. David McCormack's emergence (16.8 ppg in his last four) remains paramount to Kansas' hopes for a deep tournament run. Jayhawks trying to be a No. 4 seed or better for the 20th straight tournament.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 18 | Record: 19-5. The Ducks have earned their placement here. Went 7-1 over a 17-day period to close out the regular season and took a second straight Pac-12 regular season title in the process. Whether it wins the Pac-12 Tournament, I don't know. I think there could be some funkiness out in Las Vegas. But keep an eye on Chris Duarte, who is peaking. He averaged 18.3 points on 58.0% 3-point shooting and 4.7 rebounds in Oregon's final three games. Oregon might be destined for an underseeding, and then it'll wind up being favored against its first-round opponent.|
|🔻Last week: No. 10 | Record: 15-5. FSU ended its season in unexpected fashion by losing two of its final three games, making room for Virginia to swoop in and take the regular-season ACC title. But I like FSU to win its league bracket. (You can see all of our conference tournament picks here.) MJ Walker, your time is now. The senior has been a steady four-year college player for Leonard Hamilton. He and the ACC freshman of the year, Scottie Barnes, comprise what I think is the best wing-guard combo in the conference. Sleep on this team at your own risk.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 17 | Record: 23-1. Where will the Eagles land? Pat Kelsey's team is the Big South Tournament champion for the second straight year. The only loss came by two points at home. I think a No. 12 seed should be in discussion. This team can run, it can rebound at both ends and it does not foul often. The pre-tournament Cinderella hype will be real. Can't wait to see what team draws these guys.|
|⤴️Last week: N/R | Record: 17-6. Virginia won its fifth regular-season ACC title in eight years over the weekend when it took down Louisville on the road and Florida State simultaneously got beat at Notre Dame. Tony Bennett has made doing these kind of things boring, which speaks to his greatness. I've developed some skepticism about the reigning national champions' potential to win four NCAA Tournament games, but putting this team into the Sweet 16 regardless of opponent wouldn't be the worst bracket advice I could give you.|
|⤴️Last week: No. 19 | Record: 20-7. Tad Boyle's Buffaloes head into the Pac-12 Tournament (as a No. 3 seed) riding a four-game winning streak. That includes wins over USC and UCLA. The program has a healthy chance make history in 2021. Colorado has made six NCAA Tournaments since seeding began in 1978. It's never been higher than a No. 9 seed. Palm has them currently riding the No. 8 line. McKinley Wright IV is good enough to tug this squad to the second weekend if Colorado can wind up as high as a No. 5 or 6.|
|⤴️Last week: N/R | Record: 18-8. You'll notice a few teams are slipping in through the backdoor in this final edition of the Hey Nineteen. Purdue, hello. Matt Painter's team has been blending into the background for most of this season. Hasn't been great enough to be projected as a top-three seed, hasn't been bad enough to be anywhere near bubble talk. It's also 0-3 vs. Illinois, Michigan and Iowa, which is why Purdue has been overlooked. But the Boilers have won five straight and sit at No. 13 in KenPom.|
|⤴️Last week: N/R | Record: 14-6. The Huskies are oddly still not ranked, but they'll break through in my final edition of the power rankings. Dan Hurley's team has won six of its last seven (the only loss at Villanova) and, as of now, would have a case to be wearing white uniforms if the NCAA Tournament started today. That case should strengthen, as UConn looks to be a great value pick to win the Big East Tournament. The Huskies are 10-2 with James Bouknight in the lineup and are beating teams by 11.2 points on average in those 12 games. Opponents are managing just 39.7% shooting, too. Might wind up as a trendy Elite Eight pick in a week.|