College basketball power rankings: UNC jumps to No. 4 while Zion-less Duke drops
It's also time to stop placating 27-1 Houston, one of the five most impressive teams in the nation
Unbelievably, it is already the last day of February.
Yes, the greatest month of the year is mere hours away. (The college basketball season always goes by so, so fast.) There are just two editions of the Hey Nineteen power rankings left after this week's, so let's check in how things are going at the top of the sport.
We've been fortunate to have many games between top-10 teams over the past few weeks. The results of those games have shifted bracket projections but also fortified what's a very strong top 10-12 in college basketball. Where do the best of the best fall as of now? Well, friends, let's take a tour of who's still trending in the right direction -- and who's slipping with March now on the doorstep.
And a reminder! For your daily dose of college basketball rankings, remember to check, which updates every morning.
⤴️ means a team is higher than where it stood last week, ⤵️ indicates a drop and 🔄 means no change from last Thursday.
|🔄 Last week: No. 1 |
The Cavaliers (25-2) continue to rate as the best team in college basketball in all predictive metrics, and now have slid into the No. 1 overall seed spot in Jerry Palm's Bracketology prognostication. UVA has won at least 25 games in five of Tony Bennett's nine seasons.
|🔄 Last week: No. 2 |
With two games to go in the regular season, Gonzaga (27-2) is closing in on its fifth undefeated run through the WCC. The previous four times came in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013, that last one featuring Gonzaga as a No. 1 seed and getting knocked off in the round of 32 by Final Four-bound Wichita State. In years that Gonzaga went undefeated in the WCC regular season, it never advanced past the Sweet 16.
|🔄 Last week: No. 3 |
Kentucky breaks into the top three, where it belongs. The 24-4 Wildcats have lost one game since Jan. 5. PJ Washington is the team's most valuable player, but freshman shooting guard Tyler Herro has become the stone-cold killer on this team. He's up to 14.2 points per game and is a 93-percent foul shooter.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 6 |
The Tar Heels move higher yet again. Can you believe there was a point this season in which they fell out of the power rankings? Now a 1 seed is still possible. The 23-5 Tar Heels have a 7-3 record against ranked teams this season. It's the most victories vs. Top 25 competition for Carolina since 2006-07.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 7 |
A team from a major conference has won 27 out of 28 games. There's no way I'm not listing that team in the top five. Predictive metrics are still not all in. UH ranks 14th in KenPom and in BPI, 16th in Sagarin. The NET, which has predictive elements, though, has the Cougars fourth. Repeat after me: Houston is good enough to win the national title.
|⤵️ Last week: No. 4 |
A gutty Grant Williams shot followed by a daring charge drawn by Admiral Schofield got Tennessee a win over Ole Miss on Wednesday night. The Vols are now 25-3 and still have No. 1 seed hopes alive in advance of Saturday's terrifically tempting home game against Kentucky. UT's reputation nationally probably shouldn't rest on that revenge game, but it just might.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 8 |
The Spartans (23-5) won without Nick Ward and Josh Langford at Michigan on Sunday, giving them command of the Big Ten. MSU is assisting on 68.4 percent of its possessions, No. 1 in the country, thanks to All-American candidate Cassius Winston. Next up is at Indiana on Saturday. No way the Hoosiers sweep Sparty, right?
|⤵️ Last week: No. 4|
Duke's loss at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night signaled a road defeat for all 353 teams in college basketball this season. Of course, Duke (24-4) did not schedule a road game out of conference. The methodology is not new for Mike Krzyzewski, nor is it hampering his program's chances to get a No. 1 seed in most seasons. Duke's scheduling comes under fire, but the team annually plays among the toughest overall schedules in college hoops. Oh by the way, it's down to No. 8 because this team is 1-2 without Zion Williamson available and we don't know if he'll be back in a day or for another couple of weeks.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 10 |
Another dominant win Wednesday night (89-73 over UNLV) for one of only three teams with at least 26 wins. The Wolf Pack now prep for the biggest game of their conference slate: at Utah State on Saturday. No game has more seed significant implications this weekend than that one, because Nevada is still without a Quadrant 1 win. USU presents that opportunity.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 12 |
At 23-5, LSU still has an outside shot at a No. 1 seed if it ran the table from now until Selection Sunday. The Tigers have won their two most recent games -- both at home, vs. Tennessee and Texas A&M -- and done so without Tremont Waters, who was listed as out for both with an illness. If illness was keeping him out, you have to figure Waters will be available for Saturday's game at Alabama.
|⤵️ Last week: No. 9|
Marquette (23-5) going the final 5:14 without a field goal made on Wednesday night at Villanova was aberrational to say the least. A team that entered the night shooting 39.9 percent from 3-point is not going five-plus minutes without a bucket from the field again this season. The MU loss slots them one game ahead of Villanova in the Big East standings with three games to play. Marquette will almost certainly finish atop the league standings because two of its final three are at home, the road game coming against Seton Hall.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 9 |
The Bulls (25-3) will lock up the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament with a win at 15-13 Miami (OH) on Friday night. Buffalo is an NCAA Tournament lock at this point, but if it goes on to get the auto bid, it will mark the fourth time in five years UB has won the league playoff. That's never happened before in MAC history.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 14 |
The Red Raiders got an overtime scare at home vs. Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, but all's well that ends well. Now at 23-5, Texas Tech has reassumed its position as the best defensive team in college basketball. How's this: Texas Tech has never gone back-to-back seasons earning a No. 6 seed or higher in the NCAA Tournament. That changes in 2019.
|⤵️ Last week: No. 11|
The Wolverines (24-4) have gone from an elite team to a (plenty acceptable) pretty good one. After starting the season 17-0, John Beilein's team has lost four of its past 11. Here's what could cost UM a seed line in March: KenPom has Michigan's nonconference SOS at 310. That's way lower than most would expect. Yet the strength of the Big Ten has Michigan's overall SOS at 30. One more bad loss, and Michigan could wind up a line lower than you might think.
|⤴️ Last week: No. 17 |
The Boilermakers pulled away from Illinois down the stretch of the second half on Wednesday night, improving their home record to 62-4 in their last 66 games. The Boilermakers had six losses in their first 15 games, so they dropped behind the pack and are still obscured in the background at this point. Start paying attention. Purdue is 12-1 since Jan. 8.
|⤴️ Last week: unranked |
Buzz Williams' team trampolines right back into the power rankings after impressively winning at home against Duke on Tuesday night. Now at 22-6, Virginia Tech has an 11-5 ACC record, which is the most wins the school has had in conference play in 23 years. Thirteen is the program-high, set in 1995-96 when Va. Tech was in the A-10.
|⤵️ Last week: No. 15|
The Seminoles (22-6) took their lumps last weekend at UNC, falling by 18. But this team has won nine of 10 and, more importantly, has won 48 of its past 51 home games. With the next two at home (NC State and Va. Tech), FSU is in good position to finish the regular season with 25 wins because the final game is at Wake Forest (11-16).
|⤴️ Last week: No. 19 |
, who are without question -- in terms of metrics and offensive ability -- the best team to come out of the SoCon since Steph Curry and Davidson were a No. 10 seed on their way to the 2008 Elite Eight.
|⤴️ Last week: unranked|
Mick Cronin's 24-4 Bearcats make their season debut in the power rankings. Cronin has an experienced team yet again, and that's why Cincinnati is going to make a ninth consecutive tournament. The only schools that can say the same are huge national powers: Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga and North Carolina.
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