College basketball power rankings: Virginia and Duke are the top two and there's major movement outside the top 10
After an array of upsets and notable outcomes, teams like Tennessee and Michigan State make their move
College basketball has:
- Two undefeated teams.
- Eight one-loss teams.
- Fifteen two-loss teams.
- Four 15-win teams.
- Eleven 14-win teams.
- Seventeen 13-win teams.
From that group, and even beyond it, there's a big pool of candidates to consider for the Power Rankings. This week's list features volatile movement from where things stood on Jan. 3. It's the most week-over-week change yet. No. 1 stays the same, but three teams dropped out/hopped in. And after the top 10, it gets complicated quickly.
Here are the 19 most impressive teams in college basketball right now. Why 19? Because it's just enough, especially on the 71st birthday of Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen.
⤴️ means a team is higher than where it stood last week, ⤵️ indicates a drop and 🔄 means no change from last Thursday.
|🔄 Tony Bennett's team is 14-0, fresh off two more throat-squeezing victories in the ACC. The first was the biggest 13-point blowout I've ever seen. Virginia won 65-52 over Florida State on Saturday, but FSU full-court-pressed UVA's walk-ons to score 14 straight points in the final two minutes. On Wednesday night, Virginia of course had no problems at Boston College, winning 83-56. Given its playmakers, its efficiency and its ever-reliable defense, I still like Virginia right now more than any team in the sport. Last week: No. 1. |
|⤴️ The Blue Devils' ninth straight win over Wake Forest (Tuesday night) featured Zion Williamson doing something no Duke freshman had ever done: 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals. As a team, Duke blocked 13 shots. That's the most times Wake Forest has ever been blocked in one game. Duke (13-1) now has blocked 10 or more shots in a game six times this season. In the previous seven seasons, total, Duke did it three times. Its 8.2 swats per game is best in college basketball. Last week: No. 3. |
|⤵️ The Wolverines (15-0) are in a stretch of 11-month dominance that's hard to match across the previous 10 years in college hoops. Michigan is 29-1 in its last 30 games, its only loss of course coming to Villanova in the national title game. We're just about at the halfway point of the season; John Beilein is my pick for coach of the year as of now. Isaiah Livers, who has been out in recent weeks, should return Thursday night. Last week: No. 2. |
|⤴️ The 13-1 Volunteers push into the top four after their wins vs. Georgia (by 46 points!) and at Missouri (by 24). In light of Auburn's 15-point loss at Ole Miss on Wednesday, it's clear that the Vols have separated themselves from the rest of the SEC. Their win margin average is 21.4 points, fourth-best in college basketball. (Duke, Virginia and Gonzaga's are higher.) Last week: No. 7. |
|⤴️ All I have to say about 14-1 Texas Tech in this space this week are two things. No. 1: The defense is absurdly good, to the point where it has a chance at being one of the stingiest we've ever seen. Let's give it another couple weeks, but Chris Beard has something special here. No. 2: it's a joke that you can get 40/1 value on TTU winning the national title right now. Snag those odds. Last week: No. 6. |
|⤴️ The Bulldogs now have their full roster at the ready, as Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall made their season debuts over the weekend for a Zags team that has the potential to be the best in program history. It's going to need to get a No. 1 seed and make a Final Four to earn that claim. Doing that isn't a long shot. This is comfortably rated as the No. 1 tempo-free offense in college basketball. Hard to see how Gonzaga (14-2) loses that spot the rest of the way. The Bulldogs have finished top-five in KenPom offensive four times under Mark Few, but never been No. 1. Last week: No. 8. |
|⤴️ If you want to know why things are going so well for 14-2 Sparty, I spoke with the staff recently and the biggest reason I heard was MSU's freedom of movement and willingness to pass the ball. Tom Izzo has seldom had a collective this good at getting out and running, making the right pass and taking the right shot. The space between MSU and Michigan isn't that large; some in the Big Ten have maintained Michigan State is the better squad. Last week: No. 9. |
|⤴️ Virginia Tech (14-1) has become an interesting team to track. Buzz Williams confirmed within the past week that Chris Clarke -- one of the team's two best players -- and Landers Nolley, a former four-star prospect, will not play this season. Clarke's absence is holdover from a mysterious suspension issued in October. Nolley's issue stems from test scores and lack of NCAA clearance. This hasn't held the Hokies back so far. Will we see regression by the end of January? Last week: No. 10. |
|⤵️ This is a really strong No. 9 slot for Kansas, which went 1-1 since last week's Power Rankings. A lot's going on here, but I'll keep it brief. No. 1: The loss at Iowa State is worth a little ding but more so because, No. 2: No Udoka Azubuike the rest of the season puts this team's overall outlook in some doubt in the macro for now. No. 3: Hello, Ochai Agbaji, who had his redshirt season burned in light of the Azubuike injury. Agbagi was a spark in Kansas' lively 77-68 win over TCU on Wednesday night. Bill Self is now 48-3 at Kansas in home games that follow a loss. Last week: No. 5. |
|⤵️ This is the first year of the Power Rankings here at CBS Sports, and I'm going to earnestly attempt not to overreact too harshly to single-game outcomes. Nevada's 85-58 loss at New Mexico was so poor, though, that a sizable drop has to be handed out. I do think this is one of the 10 best teams in college basketball; Nevada (15-1) had a nice bounceback on Wednesday vs. San Jose State. It's staying in my top 10. Getting back into the top five will require month-long mutilation over the rest of the Mountain West, though. Last week: No. 4. |
|⤴️ Do not be surprised that a MAC team is still lingering near the top 10 on Jan. 10. The Bulls' only loss came on the road against Marquette. Since then, Nate Oats' stacked roster has won three straight by an average of 20.3 points. This is a 14-1 team that is probably going to be favored in every game it plays from now until the NCAA Tournament. Last week: No. 11. |
|⤴️ North Carolina. The 12-3 Tar Heels are comfortably outflanking a quartet of one-loss teams (Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Nevada and Buffalo) in many modern metrics. The computers still love the Tar Heels, who acquired a nice piece of resume insurance by getting that 90-82 win at NC State on Tuesday. Most importantly, UNC doesn't appear to be losing Cam Johnson to injury, which was an initial fear when he want down vs, State. Last week: No. 19. |
|⤴️ The Maryland Terrapins (13-3) have been lurking outside the Power Rankings' velvet rope for three weeks. It's time to let them in and place them kindly ahead in line of some other good teams. Mark Turgeon's club has a four-game win streak going and sits at 4-1 in a good/deep Big Ten. Recent conquests include home vs. Nebraska, at Rutgers (which beat Ohio State on Wednesday night), at Minnesota. Definitely tracking toward top-20 territory; I'm going to get ahead of the wagon. Last week: unranked. |
|⤵️ The Cougars (15-1) are in no danger, this week, of leaving the PR. That 73-69 loss at Temple on Wednesday night was the first of the season for Kelvin Sampson's team. It also came on a charge call that's hard to swallow if you're a Coogs fan. For more on this team, Sampson and what he said when I asked him about the UCLA job, . Last week: No. 12. |
|⤵️ The Seminoles' move to press UVA walk-ons was weak, but this is still looking like one of the 15-17 best teams in the sport as of this week. At 13-2, Leonard Hamilton's club got right with a win over Miami on Wednesday night. The defining stretch is upcoming, though. Duke pays a visit this weekend, then has road games against Pitt and Boston College. If FSU (13-2) can go 2-1 in that triad, it's probably legit. Last week: No. 13.|
|⤴️ A lot of teams bottlenecked in the 15-30 range of the Power Rankings master list took at least one loss in the previous seven days, Kentucky (11-3) among them. UK did follow up its don't-freak-out loss at Alabama with a home win over Texas A&M that wasn't dominant, but still showed how UK is growing. It got ahead of things despite not getting a good game from Reid Travis. And I like Ashton Hagans more by the week. Last week: No. 17. |
|⤴️ These final three spots were tough to settle on. There are cases to be made, reasonable ones, for another 4-5 teams. But in light of Iowa State's talent, the style in which it beat Kansas and its overall growth in the past two weeks (finally a full roster), I am dropping the 12-3 'Clones in. The loss to Baylor I acknowledge. That's a ding. Good news is we'll have clarity in the next week: home vs. Kansas State and then at Texas Tech. Might have to win both to stick around. Last week: unranked. |
|⤵️ The Sooners (12-3) drop with a loss at Texas Tech, but I maintain this is certainly one of the 19 best/most impressive teams in college basketball at this point. Can/needs to prove that with two home games forthcoming: vs. TCU, vs. Kansas State. Last week: No. 16. |
|⤴️ I hope you caught what Markus Howard did on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday night. His 53 points (on 26 shots) in an overtime victory at Creighton singlehandedly vaulted the Golden Eagles into the Power Rankings. MU (13-3) has an all-time program hero on its roster at the moment. Howard is the only player in the past two decades of Division I men's basketball to score 50 or more twice in his career. By the way, the win should have been Creighton's, as the officiating crew mistakenly ruled that Marquette's Sam Hauser got the game-tying shot off before time expired. Last week: unranked. |
Dropped out: Mississippi State, NC State, Ohio State.
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