It's that time of week again where we hand out grades and assess the report card for some of college basketball's best and worst teams for the week that was. Pull up a chair, kids, class is in session.
I was a kind teacher this week once again, liberally handing out "A" grades to those who I feel earned it. But just like last week, I was also harsh to those who did not perform well. These are grades you will not want to show your parents. I prefer the term "tough love" to harsh, though. I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed is the energy I'm passing along here.
And the grades reflect that this week. There are plenty of passing grades after big weeks -- Saint Mary's gets an A+ after holding serve at home vs. Gonzaga, as does Arizona and VCU for their big weeks -- but there are a handful that won't be as proud of their grades after a down week.
So let's dive into the report card for this week. As always, keep in mind the cycle runs Monday-Sunday.
College basketball grades: This week's report card
|Saint Mary's||A+||Saint Mary's tops our grades this week after wiping out No. 12 Gonzaga at home to extend its lead in the WCC standings by two games. Aidan Mahaney was nails late to lead the Gaels to a comeback, scoring 16 of his 18 in the second half and overtime.|
|VCU||A+||Time to give the A-10's top dog its proper due in this space. VCU handled business with two gigantic road wins this week over Davidson and Saint Louis to open up a 1.5-game lead in the regular-season race. Mike Rhoades' team consistently finds ways to win close games.|
|Arizona||A+||Since losing to Washington State and Oregon in early January, Arizona's turned its season around with six consecutive wins and is hot on UCLA's trail in the Pac-12 race. The Wildcats in that timeframe are No. 2 in defense in college hoops and rate No. 1 at BartTorvik.com.|
|Houston||A+||All Houston does is win -- home or away. The Cougars cruised in two easy road wins over Wichita State and Temple this week in improving to 22-2, its best start to a season since 2018-19. The emergence of star freshman Jarace Walker, who had 23 points in Sunday's 81-65 win over Temple, has given this team two elite weapons for teams to deal with inside and out. They're my pick right now to win it all.|
|Texas||A||Texas handled business at home versus a surging Baylor team then went on the road to defeat No. 7 Kansas State in impressive fashion. Rodney Terry and this Longhorns team aren't head and shoulders better than everyone in the Big 12, but they've got a lead in the conference and are among the best teams in the nation.|
|Oklahoma State||A||Mike Boynton and the Cowboys have won five of their last six -- including three-straight -- to help culminate a big week in which they took down rival Oklahoma in Norman and then outlasted No. 15 TCU at home. Oklahoma State has dealt with a litany of injuries to key players but is playing its best stretch of ball this season.|
|UCLA||A||After an 0-2 week to close January, UCLA went 2-0 this week with wins at home over Washington and Washington State to hold off (for now) the surging Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 regular-season standings.|
|Marquette||A||Shaka Smart's club posted another perfect week in the win column with home wins over Villanova and Butler to improve to 13-1 at home this season. Picked to finish ninth in the league this preseason, the Golden Eagles remain a tremendous story as a legitimate contender in the Big East.|
|Duke||B+||There will be no banners hung for close wins over unranked Wake Forest and UNC, but this week Duke showed its potential ceiling. Blue Devils big man Dereck Lively II had eight blocks and 14 rebounds against the Tar Heels, establishing himself as perhaps the biggest x-factor among NCAA Tournament-bound teams in the entire sport.|
|Alabama||B+||Poor Vanderbilt was on the receiving end of a 101-44 'Bama beatdown after the Tide lost by 24 the week prior to OU. The Crimson Tide made things closer than it needed to be against LSU but got one on the road to remain perfect in SEC play.|
|Kentucky||B+||There's no doubt Kentucky still has some kinks to work out in its rotations -- John Calipari says he wants to play reigning Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe less and Daimon Collins more -- but UK has absolutely played its way out of a mid-season slump. It has won six of seven with the lone loss coming to a Kansas team that might earn a No. 1 seed.|
|Indiana||B||The win Saturday over No. 1 Purdue was nearly enough to get Indiana onto the "A" line despite a dud of a showing on the road versus Maryland earlier in the week. It was the Hoosiers' first win over a No. 1-ranked team in a decade.|
|Purdue||C||Purdue flattened Penn State at home then nearly erased a huge deficit on the road against Indiana. Hard to be too critical of a team this good, but this may be the only chance I get to give Purdue a grade outside of an "A" the rest of the season!|
|Kansas||C-||Kansas has lost four of five in league play after losing to Iowa State over the weekend, the first time that's happened under Bill Self in two decades. The loss isn't concerning so much as it is the way in which it lost -- by 15 points in a relatively non-competitive showing.|
|Tennessee||C-||After taking its largest loss of the season at Florida on Wednesday, Tennessee out-uglied Auburn 46-43 Saturday in the fourth-lowest scoring game between ranked opponents in the shot clock era. Vols defense = very good. Vols offense = very suspect!|
|North Carolina||D||There's no shame in losing on the road to Duke; in Durham, the Blue Devils are one of the toughest outs in the sport. But when you combine that with a home loss to Pitt, it easily adds up to a "D" grade for me. The preseason No. 1 Tar Heels remain the most frustratingly underwhelming team this season.|