The year has flipped, and so has the No. 1 ranking in this week's edition of the power rankings.
Duke is slipping from the top spot this week because of its extended layoff. Schedule quirks do not enable teams to stay put just because they happened not to play anyone over an extended period of time. If anything, the opposite is true. You don't play, you're vulnerable to get bumped. But this is only a thing in December, due to finals and the holidays, so it won't affect the rankings the rest of the season.
A reminder that ⤴️ means a team is higher than where it stood last week, ⤵️ obviously indicates a drop and 🔄 means a team has circled back to the same spot from where it was last Thursday.
Here are the 19 most impressive and formidable teams in college basketball as of Jan. 3.
|⤴️ Welcome to No. 1, Virginia (12-0). The 'Hoos dropped 100 against Marshall this week, marking the first time in program history under Tony Bennett that it hit triple digits. UVA ranks first in scoring defense (51.4), first in 3-point defense (24.7 percent), fourth in scoring margin (23.2), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76). It's like the UMBC loss never even happened. Last week: No. 3. |
|🔄 We're coming up on almost a month since Michigan (13-0) was playing in games that registered even a little bit outside of the Great Lakes State. The Wolverines beat Binghamton by 22 on Sunday and, next, figure to have a gimme game at home on Thursday night against Penn State. Then Indiana comes to town on Sunday. That could be pretty decent. Last week: No. 2. |
|⤵️ The 11-1 Blue Devils have been chilling since that impressive win on Dec. 21 at MSG vs. Texas Tech. That was quite a while ago, but the biggest draw in college basketball returns this Saturday at home against Clemson. The game has appeal for a lot of reasons, but here's one additional plot point: Zion Williamson was widely believed to be headed to Clemson, where his family had strong ties, before his stunning Duke commitment almost a year ago. If Duke starts ACC play by blowing teams out, a return to No. 1 is probably inevitable. Last week: No. 1.|
|🔄 All is well in Reno. Utah State and the Wolf Pack played a late tip on Wednesday night. The Aggies might be the second best team in the Mountain West ... which is great for Nevada's prospects of running the table in the league. The 14-0 Pack won 72-49. Nevada's ranked No. 6 in the country and still seems sizably undervalued and overlooked at this juncture. If the NCAA Tournament started tomorrow, I'd probably take it to make the Final Four. Last week: No. 4. |
|⤴️ With its 70-63 win on Wednesday night against Oklahoma, Kansas (12-1) has now won 28 straight home openers in Big 12 play. That would be amazing if it was any school but KU. Absurdity in conference play is the norm in Lawrence. For Iowa State fans hoping to see the Clones in the power rankings this week, know that I put your team at No. 20. And would you look at that: KU plays at Iowa State on Saturday. If the Cyclones beat the Jayhawks, they'll roar into next week's power rankings. Last week: No. 6. |
|⤴️ The Red Raiders, now 12-1, jump up in this week's Hey Nineteen after working through an ugly win in their Big 12 opener, on the road, against West Virginia. Chris Beard's team is comfortably in first place in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom.com, allowing a holy-cow-low 83.7 points per 100 possessions. Jordan Sperber, who's worked in D-I hoops as an analytic mind, points out that the Red Raiders still haven't allowed a team to score 1.00 points per possession in a game yet. That's ridiculous! Last week: No. 8. |
|⤵️ Vols fans are going to be unhappy and very confused to see I've got Tennessee at 7 while Gary Parrish has consistently kept UT atop his daily rankings. But again, for those who might be seeing the power rankings for the first time: I don't rank teams here the way Parrish does, and don't rank teams in a traditional poll manner. Our methods are very different. These rankings have some recency bias, consult with multiple metrics, take game location, final score and overall impressiveness of play into account. Either way, I think UT (11-1) can win the national title. Last week: No. 5.|
|⤵️ Zags fans, your (13-2) team is inevitably going to rise high in the power rankings soon. The No. 1 offense in college basketball, playing in an improved WCC, is due to work its way back up week by week. Plus, as I reported on Wednesday night, Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall are expected to be back on the floor this Saturday in the conference opener vs. Santa Clara. If Gonzaga winds up throttling WCC competition at full strength, it'll never be as low as eighth again this season. Last week: No. 7. |
|🔄 The Spartans (12-2) turned Northwestern into a fine powder on Wednesday night, winning 81-55 and getting to 3-0 in Big Ten play. Remember, the Big Ten for the second straight season scheduled early December games for all teams. MSU's defeated Rutgers, Iowa and Northwestern. It gets interesting this Saturday, however. Spartans travel to Ohio State. We haven't had too many instances of intra-power rankings teams facing each other yet this season, so let's get it on. Last week: No. 9. |
|⤴️ The Hokies are already on the board in ACC play, having defeated Notre Dame without too much disturbance (81-66 on Tuesday). Buzz Williams' team is 12-1 but still very much under the radar (with the exception of here at CBSSports.com, of course). The Hokies rank fifth in offense at the moment, which is by far the best ever in the KenPom era. The program has been officially flipped by Williams, who needed four years to alter the outlook. Last week: No. 11. |
|⤴️ The Buckeyes are still a moving target in the metrics. Some systems have them as low as 29th, while others put Chris Holtmann's team as high as No. 9. Here, No. 11 seems perfect as we leap into 2019. The Buckeyes disposed of High Point on Saturday, 82-64, but the Michigan State opportunity looms so large. A win there would get OSU to 13-1 and change the paradigm of the Big Ten, at least in in the short-term. It would also keep Holtmann at the forefront of coach-of-the-year chitchat. Gotta win it, though. Last week: No. 12. |
|⤴️ The Coogs continue to climb. Now at 14-0 and standing strong as one of only four undefeateds left in college basketball, Kelvin Sampson's team is getting better defensively by the week. Its last five games have all come at home, with teams only putting up 54.6 points in that stretch. If you missed it, . I went contrarian and picked UCF to win the league, but I do think the Knights and Houston both wind up with solid seeds. Last week: No. 14. |
|⤴️Quality team getting almost no buzz, but now that ACC season has arrived that can change soon. Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles have a task ahead this weekend. Virginia. The game is at Virginia. The betting line is not yet up, but I'm venturing it'll be Wahoos by 7.5. If FSU can pull the upset, it would almost certainly rank as one of the three best wins in college hoops this season so far. Last week: No. 15. |
|⤴️ The Bulls aren't going anywhere. Nate Oats' team responded to getting 40-burger'd by Markus Howard by going on the road -- again, the team's sixth roadie of 15 it will play in 2018-19 -- and beating Canisius by 15. As you'll see, only a few teams in this week's power rankings happened to play away from home in the past week. All won and all were rewarded here. Buffalo's got a tricky one at Eastern Michigan this Friday, by the by. Last week: No. 16 . |
|⤴️ Beat BYU 103-81 over the weekend, putting up a 100-plus in a game for the first time in 364 days. How well do you know Ben Howland's 12-1 Bulldogs? Quinndary Weatherspoon has been a top-100 player in college basketball for three seasons going. But it's senior Aric Holman who's come into his own this season. A 6-10 stretch 5, he's hitting 40 percent of his 3s and giving this team a ranging look on offense that is going to be interesting to see tangle with a lot of the defensively adept teams in the SEC. Last week: No. 17. |
|⤵️ The Sooners drop from their top-10 standing but by no means are in danger of slipping out of the Nineteen. No shame in losing by seven at Kansas. The Jayhawks are better than Oklahoma, but I don't know by how much. The Sooners have played a top-10 schedule and are still 11-2, the losses coming at KU and vs. Wisconsin on a neutral. Defensively, it's a different world from what OU was last season. Last week: No. 10. |
|⤴️ The Wildcats make their season debut in the power rankings after their back-to-back wins over North Carolina (in Chicago) and at Louisville. It's not just those wins or the 10-2 record -- but how Kentucky's played. Defensively, the team is turning into a menace. Plus, one of its losses was in overtime against a quality Seton Hall team. Ashton Hagans is clicking running the point and Keldon Johnson is . Beyond that, Reid Travis (14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds on average) is rounding out the interior the way UK fans expected him to. Kentucky plays at Alabama on Saturday. It should win by 15 if it plays the way it did vs. Louisville. Last week: unranked.|
|🔄The 12-1 Wolfpack have the unfortunate tag of claiming the 350th-worst nonconference schedule, according to KenPom. But poor strength of schedule is not a disqualifying factor in the power rankings. NC State's fending off the likes of UNC, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Auburn, TCU, St. John's, Marquette and Indiana on the back end here. The fact it's rating well -- top 30 in many metrics, despite such a bad noncon SOS -- speaks to how dominant the team's been. Not just winning, but throttling. Now comes ACC play and a roadie at Miami on Thursday night. Last week: No. 18. |
|🔄 The Tar Heels are static from a week ago, again, after beating Davidson and Harvard at home in the past week by a combined 42 points. The NC State-UNC tug at the bottom of the power rankings will finally tear next Thursday. One of the two teams will not be in the Nineteen, and it will be the loser of their game next Tuesday. NC State gets the home wood for that one. Last week: No. 19. |
Dropped out: Wisconsin.