College basketball power rankings: Surging Gonzaga grabs No. 1 spot away from Ohio State
There are only four unbeaten teams left and all four of them are ranked by Matt Norlander in his latest power rankings
in case you didn't realize it, Gonzaga is playing like it is the best team in college basketball right now.
I know that doesn't mean a lot in this particular season, but the Bulldogs are top-three in points per game and points differential. They've also got the No. 1-rated in offense -- 115.1 points per 100 possession, adjusted, according to KenPom.com.
So that's why the Zags made the unusual mega-leap in this week's Hey Nineteen power rankings. Gonzaga jumped from from No. 11 to No. 1 after defeating Arizona 84-80 on Sunday and North Carolina 94-81 on Wednesday.
An intriguing weekend awaits, wherein six of the top 10 teams in this week's Hey Nineteen play dangerous opponents. We're sure to have more shakeup next week for the next Hey 19 on the day after Christmas. But for now, these are the 19 most impressive and dominant teams as of late in college basketball.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 11 | Gonzaga (12-1) is the best team with the most momentum and most impressive looking run over the past three weeks. I'd say more, butat why Gonzaga managed to become a better team this year than Mark Few would have ever imagined. Few is my choice as of right now for national coach of the year.|
|🔄 Last week: No. 2 | Kansas has been under the radar because the Jayhawks have moved to 9-1 thanks to their three most recent wins coming at home over Colorado and Milwaukee, plus a "neutral-court" win over UMKC last weekend. But the second-best game of the weekend (behind Ohio State vs. Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic) is Kansas at Villanova. KU beat Nova by three in Allen Fieldhouse last season. Kansas is better than Villanova right now. Yet I think Nova's gonna win.|
|🔄 Last week: No. 3 | Not much to say about 9-1 Duke. Its last game was Dec. 6 at Virginia Tech. Blue Devils finally play again Thursday at home, vs. Wofford. Potentially spicy, but I can't see the Terriers winning at UNC and at Duke in consecutive games. Duke doesn't have a semi-interesting game until 2020, when it plays at Miami on Jan. 4.|
|🔄 Last week: No. 4 | The only power-conference team without a loss, the 9-0 Tigers host NC State on Thursday. NC State has not won a nonconference road game vs. a ranked team outside of ACC play since 2001. And it's not going to vs. the Tigers either. I expect Auburn to win with some comfort and to easily crack 80 points.|
|⤵️ Last week: No. 1 | The Buckeyes (10-1) slip due to a "hmmm" loss at Minnesota on Sunday. Still top-five stuff, though. Little things -- like vaporizing the soul of SEMO in their next game, winning 80-48 -- show me Ohio State's still got the goods. Want to see if it can be dominant on Saturday at the CBS Sports Classic vs. Kentucky. Also: OSU is back at No. 1 in KenPom.|
|⤵️ Last week: No. 5 | The power rankings have been buying Butler (10-1) from the get-go. Here's the really encouraging sign if you're a BU fan. You team's 10-1, its star, Kamar Baldwin, has been enjoyable averaging 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. But he's only playing 28.9 minutes per game, which is likely to go up, and with that Baldwin can become one of the most valuable guards in the country.|
|⤵️ Last week: No. 6 | The Cardinals are 11-1 after their ho-hum 70-46 win vs. Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday. UL is the No. 2 defensive team in America -- surpassing Duke and Ohio State based on the strength of the win over the Redskins. And now, some rest. Next game isn't until Dec. 28. The biggie. On the road at Kentucky on CBS.|
|🔄 Last week: No. 8 | If Myles Powell does not play Thursday at Seton Hall -- and I don't expect him to -- then Maryland has a prime opportunity to pick up what could well eventually be regarded as a Quad 1 win. The Terps are 10-1, their most recent outcome a 76-79 loss on Dec. 10 at Penn State. That's understandable. If Maryland is to be seen as top-five quality, it needs to win at Seton Hall, though.|
|⤴️ Last week: No. 10 | Say hello to the No. 3 team in the NET, as of Wednesday, behind only Kansas and Ohio State. The Aztecs are 11-0 but undervalued by KenPom (29th), considering this team owns five wins away from home, including over 9-4 BYU, 9-2 Creighton and 8-3 Iowa. Next up: vs. Utah in Los Angeles on Saturday.|
|⤵️ Last week: No. 9 | Jeez, how about this: Virginia's defensive efficiency barrier is even greater now than it was a week ago, which is scary considering we're getting more games to put into the data pool. At 80.2 (adjusted) points per 100 allowed, Virginia (9-1) is FIVE POINTS better than No. 2 Louisville (85.2).|
|⤴️ Last week: No. 12 | The Flyers maybe be 11th here, but they're a strong No. 11. Dayton's only loss came in OT to Kansas in the Maui Invitational title game, which was one of the three or four best games of the season so far. Here's your Obi Toppin update: he's shooting 71% from 2-point range, 41% from 3-point range and averages 20 and 8. He'd be a First Team All-American if the season ended today.|
|⤴️ Last week: No. 13 | Baylor is kind of hiding at No. 5 in the NET rankings, Scott Drew's Bears got to 9-1 Wednesday with a win over UT Martin. One reason Baylor is going to make a sixth NCAA Tournament over a seven-year span: it's again good on the offensive glass. Baylor is snagging 37% of its misses, one of the best in the sport.|
|⤴️ Last week: No. 15 | Hard for me to overstate how impressed I am with the Tigers. They're 9-1 overall and 7-0 without James Wiseman. Another key freshman, Lester Quinones, has missed the past four games (broken right hand). But Memphis is comfortably in the polls and still looks like the best team in the American Athletic Conference. Last weekend's win at Tennessee vaults the Tigers up to No. 13. I can't imagine them falling any time soon.|
|🔄 Last week: No. 14 | Archie Miller's group sits at 10-1 with one of the most head-scratching losses in major-conference hoops this season: a 20-point beatdown at the hands of 5-5 Wisconsin. Saturday's Crossroads Classic will pit IU vs. Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are 8-3 but has potential to become a breakout squad in ACC play. If the Hoosiers are for real, they should win this game, but I expect it to be very close.|
|⤴️ Last week: unranked | The Ducks (9-2) have to jump into the mix after winning an overtime thriller at Michigan. The Ducks have two losses, but both legitimate: in overtime at the Battle 4 Atlantis against loaded Gonzaga and by four points to UNC when it was at full strength. The Ducks are so highly regarded by the metrics, they rank seventh in the Massey Composite.|
|⤴️ Last week: unranked | Hello, Shockers! Gregg Marshall's team is 9-1 and owns wins over Oklahoma State (on the road) at Oklahoma (at home) as of late. Looking like a viable contender to win the AAC. Impressive bounce-back after a down season -- a season that nonetheless still had 22 wins. And I love this game: VCU (9-2) at Wichita State on Saturday at noon. It's a nice litmus test for both teams, but also an appropriate end-of-decade tilt between two defining Cinderella-types that made the Final Four in the 2010s.|
|⤴️ Last week: unranked | The 12-0 Flames are hanging tight at No. 19 in the NET. Their win at Vanderbilt (even though Vandy's bad this season) was enough for me to jump them into the power rankings. They'll stay here until they take their first loss. When might that be? A road game Sunday against LSU seems the spot, but LSU just got handled by East Tennessee State on Wednesday. A weird dichotomy with Liberty is this: It ranks 344th in noncon SOS per KenPom but has overcome that to be in the top 25 in the NET. Curious.|
|⤵️ Last week: No. 7 | We'll keep the Wildcats around. An update since last week: Arizona fell by four (though it seemed like a double-digit loss) against the top-ranked team in these rankings, Gonzaga. At 10-2 and getting there thanks to being led primarily by three freshmen, Zona's a fun team and an interesting case. The only two losses have come against the best teams it's played: at Baylor and at home to the Zags. It's in a stretch of just one game in almost three weeks, an that comes Saturday in San Francisco against St. John's.|
|⤴️ Last week: unranked | I mulled and mulled and mulled some more about the Dukes. Thought about putting six other schools here. But you know what? Even though Duquesne hasn't played a road game yet -- it also hasn't played a true home game either because the Dukes are on a rotating venue list for the season due to their home arena undergoing renovation. Plus, it's got four wins on a neutral court. And to start the season 9-0 when all but three others have taken at least one loss? Dukes, take your moment here. Next up is a game against Austin Peay on Saturday.|
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