Northwestern was picked last in the Big Ten — not in the bottom half, not near the bottom, but absolutely dead last. And the Wildcats might still finish there. It remains early and the Big Ten is loaded — evidence being that 13 of the league's 14 teams are in the top 55 at KenPom.
But, all that said, look at Northwestern!
The Wildcats beat Ohio State 71-70 on Saturday to improve to 6-1 overall, 3-0 in the Big Ten. They also own wins over Michigan State and Indiana. Their lone loss is a one-point loss to Pitt. They are, at this moment, alone atop the Big Ten standings.
"We're not really looking for rankings," said Northwestern guard Boo Buie, who finished with 14 points and five assists against Ohio State. "We're just looking to win games."
That's fine. But here's the thing: If you win enough games against the right opponents, a ranking usually follows whether you're looking for it or not. And that time has arrived for Northwestern, which is No. 17 in Sunday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings.
Are the Wildcats really the 17th-best team in the nation? I'm not sure. But they have three top-35 KenPom wins — and nobody I have ranked below them can match those wins right now.
Virginia was removed from the Top 25 And 1 after Saturday's 98-75 loss to Gonzaga. The Cavaliers have no good wins and two losses — one of which was a total blowout from start to finish, the other to a San Francisco team that's already lost three times to unranked opponents. So Virginia no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt. The Cavaliers will need to win their way back into the Top 25 And 1.
You might've noticed that I also removed LSU from the Top 25 And 1 even though LSU beat Nicholls State 86-80 on Saturday. Let me explain: When I moved LSU into the Top 25 And 1, I justified it by noting that LSU's lone loss was a single-digit loss to an undefeated Saint Louis team I had ranked higher. Then Saint Louis lost at Minnesota last Sunday, at which point I removed the Billikens from the Top 25 And 1 because that was, at the time, a loss to an unranked team. But Minnesota followed up that win over Saint Louis with a win over Iowa, at which point I moved the Golden Gophers into the Top 25 And 1. Consequently, Saint Louis' body of work is now clearly better than LSU's body of work.
Simply put, if I'm not currently ranking Saint Louis, it would make no sense to continue ranking an LSU team with an inferior body of work that includes a loss to Saint Louis, especially the morning after LSU struggled with a Nicholls State team that ranks outside of the top 200 at KenPom. So LSU is out of the Top 25 And 1. The Tigers were replaced by Louisville, which beat Kentucky 62-59 on Saturday.
Sunday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Corey Kispert made nine 3-pointers and finished with 32 points in Saturday's 98-75 victory over Virginia. Gonzaga's perfect record also includes wins over Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa.||--||24-0|
|L.J. Cryer finished with 15 points off the bench in Monday's 99-42 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Bears have won five of their six games by at least 30 points.||--||20-1|
|Christian Braun made six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points in Tuesday's 79-65 victory over West Virginia. The Jayhawks' lone loss in a neutral-court loss to top-ranked Gonzaga.||--||19-8|
|Victor Bailey finished with 18 points and three rebounds in Wednesday's 80-60 victory over South Carolina Upstate. The Vols' perfect record also includes a win over Colorado.||--||16-7|
|Collin Gillespie made six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points in Wednesday's 85-68 victory at Marquette. The Wildcats' lone loss is an overtime loss to Virginia Tech.||--||16-4|
|The Mountaineers finished with 11 turnovers and just 10 assists in Tuesday's 79-65 loss at Kansas. West Virginia's only other loss is a single-digit loss to top-ranked Gonzaga.||--||18-7|
|Marcus Sasser finished with 19 points and five rebounds in Saturday's 63-54 victory at UCF. The Cougars' perfect record also includes a double-digit win over Texas Tech.||1||20-3|
|Greg Brown finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds in Sunday's 77-74 victory over Oklahoma State. The Longhorns' lone loss is a single-digit loss to Villanova.||1||16-7|
|Marcus Santos-Silva finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 69-67 victory at Oklahoma. The Red Raiders' two losses are to Kansas and Houston.||1||17-8|
|D'Mitik Trice made four 3-pointers and finished with 29 points in Friday's 85-76 victory at Michigan State. The Badgers' lone loss is a final-second loss at Marquette.||1||16-10|
|Jeremiah Tilmon got a game-winning 3-point play in the final seconds and finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday's 54-53 victory over Bradley. The Tigers' perfect record also includes a win over Illinois.||1||15-7|
|Antwann Jones finished with 13 points off the bench in Wednesday's 66-61 victory over Xavier. The Bluejays' two losses are single-digit losses to Kansas and Marquette.||1||17-7|
|Ayo Dosunmu made four 3-pointers and finished with 30 points in Saturday's 69-60 victory over Indiana. All three of Illinois' losses are to ranked teams.||1||19-6|
|The Scarlet Knights only grabbed four offensive rebounds in Wednesday's 80-68 loss at Ohio State. Rutgers' resume features wins over Illinois, Maryland and Syracuse.||2||13-10|
|Marcus Carr finished with 30 points and eight assists in Friday's 102-95 overtime victory over Iowa. Minnesota's lone loss is at Illinois.||2||13-13|
|The Hawkeyes missed 20 of the 30 3-pointers they attempted in Friday's 102-95 overtime loss at Minnesota. Iowa's resume includes two losses plus zero wins over teams currently ranked in the Top 25 And 1.||2||19-7|
|Miller Kopp finished with 23 points and three steals in Saturday's 71-70 victory over Ohio State. The Wildcats' four-game winning streak also includes wins over Michigan State and Indiana.||NR||8-14|
|The Buckeyes missed 16 of the 20 3-pointers they attempted in Saturday's 71-70 loss at Northwestern. Ohio State's only other loss was a shorthanded loss at Purdue.||3||18-7|
|The Spartans allowed Wisconsin to shoot 51.9% from the field in Friday's 85-76 loss to the Badgers. Wisconsin is the third straight team to shoot at least 50 percent from the field against Michigan State.||--||14-11|
|Matthew Hurt finished with 18 points and five rebounds in Wednesday's 75-65 victory at Notre Dame. The Blue Devils' two losses are both to teams ranked ahead of them in the Top 25 And 1.||--||11-10|
|Franz Wagner finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in Friday's 80-69 victory at Nebraska. Six of Michigan's seven wins have come by double-digits.||--||19-2|
|Chris Duarte finished with 21 points and four rebounds in Saturday's 80-41 victory over Portland. Oregon's lone loss is a single-digit loss to Missouri.||1||18-5|
|Moses Moody finished with 21 points and four rebounds in Tuesday's 85-72 victory over Abilene Christian. The Razorbacks have won all of their games by double-digits.||1||20-5|
|McKinley Wright finished with 21 points and seven assists in Tuesday's 74-64 victory over Grand Canyon. The Buffaloes' lone loss is a single-digit loss at Tennessee.||1||20-7|
|The Musketeers missed 24 of the 32 3-pointers they attempted in Wednesday's 65-61 loss at Creighton. Xavier's resume features wins over Oklahoma, Marquette and Cincinnati.||1||13-6|
|Carlik Jones finished with 20 points and five rebounds in Saturday's 62-59 victory over Kentucky. Louisville's lone loss is a shorthanded loss at Wisconsin.||NR||13-5|