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USATSI

I hope you're having a cozy and calm week between Christmas and New Year's. Thanks for stopping by. Despite a lighter schedule in recent days, there was enough action across the country to validate refreshing the power rankings in the final week of 2022. On that note, if you missed it, we just published my '22 Year in Review, wherein I ranked the 22 biggest stories in college hoops over the past 12 months. What I didn't get to do in that story, and what I'd like to quickly do here before we get to the Hey Nineteen, is shine a light on my colleagues' work here at CBSSports.com from this year. 

If you find yourself with some spare time this weekend, I'd recommend giving these pieces a read. 

From Kyle Boone ...

• Bronny James is going to commit to and play for a school in 2023. In August, Boone wrote the need-to-know piece about his development and what we should expect from Bronny once he gets to the next level.
• The most tantalizing prospect since LeBron James is Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, who will be drafted in 2023. Read Boone's definitive primer on him here.
• One of the best players to go undrafted was someone you might never heard of, but Boone did a great job profiling his rise in advance of the NBA Draft.

From David Cobb ...

• Cobb's best story from 2022 is a dive into the turnaround at Southern Miss. I give it an urgent recommendation
• Take a look around you'll see more and more offspring playing in the pro ranks in basketball and football. Cobb highlighted this and gave a brief history lesson on Father's Day.
An overlooked plot line by many (but not Cobb) of Kansas' national title was the motivation for many Jayhawks players who were snubbed of a Final Four run in 2020. 

From Gary Parrish ...

• Thinking back to March, GP's column on officiating marring the entertainment value of March Madness rang true then and will be relevant again in '23.
• I also liked Parrish's piece that instantly reflected on the wild game that allowed North Carolina's story to continue. Remember when the Tar Heels almost blew it against Baylor?
• Looking forward to 2023, Parrish thinks Kansas fans needn't be too worried about the IARP's case against Bill Self and the Jayhawks. 

As for yours truly, the story I took the most pride in reporting was detailing the lives, worries and circumstances of seven Ukrainian college basketball players, who were trying to play out the end of their seasons as war besieged their homeland. I also enjoyed flying private with Florida in July and reporting on what it's like for a first-year high-major coach to build a program. And one of our most-read pieces of the year was this expansive profile on Chet Holmgren in the thick of Gonzaga's chase for a top seed.

As the year closes, my thanks to all of you for continuing to read our coverage here at CBS Sports. Conference play is here in full, so let us move on to the rankings!

Hey Nineteen Power Rankings

Reminder: My rankings are not solely about whom I think is "best." This is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most *interesting* teams, combining team quality with win quality but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks. Courteous feedback is encouraged: @MattNorlander.

1
Record: 14-0 | Last week: 1. The Huskies got a competitive 40 minutes from Villanova on Wednesday night, holding off the Wildcats 74-66. It was the first time this season UConn failed to win a game by double digits. The streak ends at 13; the record for most double-digit wins to start a season is 19 (UNLV in 1990-91). Connecticut's got a pair of road tests before we convene against next week. Dan Hurley's team is playing at 11-3 Xavier on New Year's Eve, then at Providence on the road Jan. 4. Can these guys get to 16-0?
2
Record: 12-0 | Last week: 2. The Boilers haven't played since last week's Hey Nineteen. They've got a gimme Thursday night vs. Florida A&M, which hasn't beaten a Division I team in nonconference play in more than two years. On Monday, Purdue will welcome in Rutgers, which boasts the third-best per-possession defense nationally. 
3
Record: 11-1 | Last week: 3. The Jayhawks defeated Harvard last Thursday to wrap nonconference play. They'll open up Big 12 competition on Saturday with a home game against Oklahoma State. The Big 12 is again rated as the No. 1 conference in the country at KenPom.com, and all 10 teams are between 5th (Kansas) and 52nd (Kansas State) in adjusted efficiency margin. What do Kansas and Kansas State have in common? Both are 11-1. 
4
Record: 12-1 | Last week: 4. As if the Wildcats weren't already one of the most aesthetically pleasing watches in the sport, the school announced earlier this week that it would be bringing back the classic '96-97 unis for its game against 11-2 Arizona State this weekend. Why they don't just make this the permanent uniform, I don't know. If you missed it Wednesday, Arizona and Tommy Lloyd cracked my list of the biggest stories in college hoops in 2022
5
Record: 11-2 | Last week: 5. UCLA is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, its longest under coach Mick Cronin, and Jaylen Clark's reliability as a quiet third piece of the Bruins nucleus is a major reason why. Clark's averaged 18.0 points, 6.6 boards and 3.2 steals in his past five games. The Bruins open up Pac-12 play this weekend with the Washington swing: at Wazzu on Friday night, then at Washington on New Year's Day.
6
Record: 13-1 | Last week: 6. The Cougars disrespectfully opened up American Athletic Conference play Wednesday night by waltzing into Tulsa's Reynolds Center and pummeling the Golden Hurricane 89-50. Next up is Saturday's home matchup against 10-3 UCF. Johnny Dawkins' team could be top-three in defense in the American this season. Houston will likely win by double digits. 
7
Record: 11-1 | Last week: 8. The Longhorns got a humongous performance Tuesday night in a 97-72 home win over Texas A&M Commerce. Marcus Carr dropped 41 points, marking the most points scored by a Texas player since Reggie Freeman's 43 in 1996. Carr hit 10 3-pointers (on 15 attempts), tying a school record (Al Coleman made 10 vs. K-State in 1997). Carr is the first player in history to score at least 40 points for two power-conference schools, according to hoops researcher Jared Berson.
8
Record: 11-2 | Last week 9. The Volunteers eked out a 63-59 road win over Mississippi on Wednesday night. If not for Santiago Vescovi and his 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, Tennessee would have lost. The rest of the team was poor from the field, which is surprising given how good Tennessee has been at sharing the ball this season. UT's assist rate is 69.2%, and while assist rate does not directly correlate to team strength, it obviously signals harmony with the ball. Harmony with the ball leads to happy teams. Happy teams that play defense are a terror. That's why Tennessee's still top-10 good.  
9
Record: 11-2 | Last week: 11. With its affirmative 78-67 road win over No. 21 Mississippi State on Wednesday, Alabama got its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season and its second in a road environment. Brandon Miller continues to show he's the best freshman in America, scoring 19 and grabbing 11 boards. What's more, Alabama exposed MSU's defense in a way that hadn't been done this season. The Tide's 78 points bested the previous high allowed by the Bulldogs this season (66 vs. Nicholls State on Dec. 17). Next is a home game on Jan. 3 against Ole Miss. 
10
Record: 12-1 | Last week: 9. Miami sits at No. 14 in the AP Top 25, its highest perch in the polls in more than five years. The Canes had their Wednesday home tilt vs. Vermont canceled due to travel logistics, meaning there was no result since last week's update. Next is on the road Friday against underwhelming Notre Dame. 
11
Record: 13-0 | Last week: 13. The Lobos cracked the polls this week for the first time since 2014, then didn't rest on that accomplishment. Wednesday night in The Pit was witness to UNM blowing out Colorado State 88-69. Jaelen House had 26 points and Jamal Mashburn Jr. had 19 more. New Mexico last started 13-0 in 1967-68, when it got to 17-0. Roadies against Wyoming and Fresno State await in the next five days.
12
Record: 11-1 | Last week: 14. Emanuel Miller has emerged as a stud for the Horned Frogs. He's been in double-figure scoring in eight of his last nine games, including 41 points total in the most recent two, vs. Utah and Central Arkansas. The 6-foot-7 Miller has only taken 16 3-point attempts, but he's made eight of them. He's the only player on the roster making more than 33% of his 3-pointers. 
13
Record: 9-2 | Last week: 12. The Cavaliers did not have Reece Beekman (hamstring) on Wednesday night for their 66-46 cruise-control win over Albany. Tony Bennett now sits at 325 victories at Virginia. With two more wins, he'll move past program legend Terry Holland as the winningest coach in school history. Virginia's next two games are on the the road in the next six days: At Georgia Tech on Saturday and at Pitt on Tuesday. 
14
Record: 11-2 | Last week: 8. Had a fully healthy Nick Smith Jr. been available for Arkansas on Wednesday, I don't think the Razorbacks would have lost by three points at LSU in a scruffy game. Next up is a home tilt against Missouri. You'll notice the power rankings are again populated with a good batch of SEC teams. It means the league will be gifting us a minimum of three must-watch games per week over the next two months. 
15
Record: 12-1 | Last week: NR. Wins over Illinois and Kentucky easily vault Missouri into the Hey Nineteen for the first time in the history of these rankings (now in their fifth season). The Tigers' way-too-easy 89-75 win Wednesday night over Kentucky marked only their third win vs. the Wildcats since joining the SEC a decade ago. Let's give it up to Kobe Brown, who's one of the best seniors in the country. He's averaging 15.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and has back-to-back 30-point games against Illinois (31) and UK (30). By beating Illinois and UK, Mizzou just won two straight over ranked teams in the regular season for the first time since 2001-02. Dennis Gates has inspired optimism in Columbia for the first time in a very long time. 
16
Record: 10-2 | Last week: NR. The competition hasn't been the best, but Baylor has gotten its defense back into proper shape, which is what matters most to Scott Drew. BU is allowing 56.6 points in its last five games. That's the right groove to carve, as another rough-and-tough defense team is coming up on Saturday. Baylor opens Big 12 play on the road against rugged Iowa State.
17
Record: 10-3 | Last week: 17. Gonzaga set a program record by winning a game by 78 points on Wednesday night. The catch: It wasn't against a Division I opponent. The Zags beat NAIA Eastern Oregon 120-42. But since that's not a Division I win, it won't reflect Gonzaga's record here in the power rankings. If you're now curious, Gonzaga's record for margin of victory over a D-I school is 61 points against Denver on Dec. 21, 2018. Mark Few's team hosts Pepperdine Saturday.
18
Record: 12-1 | Last week: NR. LSU joins Mizzou and Mississippi State as SEC programs with first-year coaches to crack the Hey Nineteen this month. I didn't expect any of them to break through this season. In beating Arkansas, LSU nabbed its first win over a top-80 KenPom team. Trae Hannibal came off the bench and broke Arkansas' spirit, scoring 19 points. KJ Williams has also been as advertised, scoring 21.4 points in LSU's last five games. 
19
Record: 12-1 | Last week: 19. I had a few other teams I considered putting here, but even though the Cougars haven't played since last week's Hey Nineteen, I'm not going to punish 'em. They host Hampton on Thursday night, then turn around two days later and play a tough one at Towson. After that, next Wednesday, it's a road game vs. North Carolina A&T. Pat Kelsey's team will have to win three more to keep its presence in the power rankings one week from now. If it's 15-1, it will have earned that — and will be a few spots better if so.