College basketball rankings: Undefeated Nevada faces toughest opponent of the season
The Wolf Pack are No. 5 in the Top 25 And 1 and go against undefeated No. 21 Arizona State on Friday
Last Sunday night, on an episode of the Eye On College Basketball Podcast, I told my colleague Matt Norlander in passing that this 2018-19 Nevada team reminded me some of the 2007-08 Memphis team that started the season 26-0 and played for the national championship.
Here's what I meant: That Memphis team, which was built outside of the normal power structure of the sport by a former NBA coach (John Calipari), brought back three of the top four scorers from a 33-win team that won its league's regular-season title by multiple games and advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. It then added a five-star freshman (Derrick Rose) and quickly became an obvious contender to win a national championship. Similarly, this Nevada team, which was built outside of the normal power structure of the sport by a former NBA coach (Eric Musselman), brought back three of the top four scorers from a 29-win team that won its league's regular-season title by multiple games and advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. It then added a five-star freshman (Jordan Brown) and has quickly become an obvious contender to win a national championship.
To be clear, I'm not comparing Jordan Brown to Derrick Rose.
But if this Nevada team starts 26-0 like that Memphis team started 26-0 it won't surprise me in the least, if only because Nevada figures to overwhelm just about everybody in the Mountain West Conference the same way Memphis used to overwhelm just about everybody in Conference USA. For what it's worth, KenPom currently gives the Wolf Pack at least a 77-percent chance to win every individual game left on its regular-season schedule, and it projects Nevada to be a double-digit favorite in 20 of its next 23 games -- among them Friday night's showdown with Arizona State.
KenPom's projected score for that one?
Wolf Pack 83, Sun Devils 73.
Nevada is No. 5 in Friday morning's updated Top 25 And 1. Arizona State is No. 21. They're the only currently-ranked teams scheduled to play Friday.
Friday's Top 25 And 1
|1||Kansas||Dedric Lawson finished with 20 points and eight rebounds in Tuesday's win over Wofford. He's now averaging a team-high 19.0 points and a team-high 10.7 rebounds in 32.7 minutes per game.||--||8-0|
|2||Gonzaga||Rui Hachimura sank a game-winning jumper in the final seconds Wednesday to lift the Zags past Washington. The junior forward is averaging 22.3 points and 6.2 rebounds.||--||9-1|
|3||Duke||RJ Barrett finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds in Wednesday's win over Hartford. Zion Williamson added 18 points and 12 rebounds.||--||9-1|
|4||Tennessee||The Vols' lone loss is a neutral-court loss to Kansas in overtime. Grant Williams is averaging a team-high 20.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the reigning SEC champs.||--||7-1|
|5||Nevada||Nevada's win at USC on Saturday provides the Wolf Pack with two double-digit road victories over top-75 KenPom teams. Caleb Martin is averaging a team-high 19.9 points and shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point range.||--||10-0|
|6||Virginia||The Cavaliers held Morgan State to just two field goals in the first 18 minutes of the second half of Monday's eventual 38-point win. Kyle Guy and De'Andre Hunter each scored 15 points.||--||9-0|
|7||Michigan||The Wolverines missed 15 of their 20 3-point attempts but still won Tuesday at Northwestern. They're 9-0 for the second time in 12 seasons under John Beilein.||--||10-0|
|8||Kentucky||The Wildcats trailed at the break Saturday before rallying to beat UNC Greensboro. Reid Travis finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds.||--||7-2|
|9||Auburn||Austin Wiley scored 14 points off the bench in Tuesday's win over UNC Asheville. Auburn's lone loss is a neutral-court loss to Duke.||--||8-1|
|10||Michigan St.||Nick Ward took 10 shots, made all 10 and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds in Monday's win over Iowa. Kenny Goins added 19 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.||--||8-2|
|11||N. Carolina||The Tar Heels handled UNC-Wilmington easily on Wednesday despite Coby White missing the game with a sore ankle. Nassir Little finished with 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.||--||7-2|
|12||Texas Tech||The Red Raiders are 8-0 for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. Jarrett Culver is averaging a team-high 18.3 points, a team-high 5.5 rebounds and a team-high 4.5 assists.||--||8-0|
|13||Florida St.||PJ Savoy finished with a game-high 16 points in Monday's win over Troy. The Seminoles' resume features three wins over top-50 KenPom teams.||--||8-1|
|14||Va. Tech||The Hokies have won two straight games since losing at Penn State. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is averaging a team-high 17.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.||--||8-1|
|15||Kansas St.||The Wildcats missed 16 of 22 3-point attempts in Saturday's loss at Marquette. Their next three games are against sub-100 KenPom teams.||--||6-2|
|16||Wisconsin||Ethan Happ scored a game-high 20 points in Monday's win over Rutgers. Wisconsin's lone loss is a neutral-court loss by single-digits to Virginia.||1||8-2|
|17||Ohio St.||Keyshawn Woods got 18 points off the bench in Wednesday's win over Illinois in Chicago. The Buckeyes are 2-0 in the Big Ten for the second consecutive season.||1||8-1|
|18||Purdue||Carsen Edwards missed 11 of his 15 field-goal attempts but still finished with 20 points in Thursday's win over Maryland. Aaron Wheeler added 15 points and three rebounds off the bench.||1||6-4|
|19||Maryland||The Terrapins shot just 35.1 percent from the field in Thursday's loss at Purdue. Maryland's only other loss is a single-digit loss to Virginia.||3||8-2|
|20||Creighton||The Bluejays led Gonzaga through 29 minutes Saturday before ultimately losing by double-digits. Creighton made 14 3-pointers in the loss.||--||6-3|
|21||Arizona St.||The Sun Devils have won 20 consecutive non-league games. They'll play Nevada on Friday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.||--||7-1|
|22||Miss. State||Lamar Peters finished with 27 points and five assists in Tuesday's win over McNeese. Next up is Saturday's game with Clemson.||--||8-1|
|23||Iowa||Tyler Cook finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday's win over Iowa State. The Hawkeyes' two losses are both to teams ranked above them -- specifically Michigan State and Wisconsin.||--||7-2|
|24||Buffalo||The Bulls are off to their best start since the 1930-31 season. Five of their next six games are on the road - and two of them are at Syracuse and at Marquette.||--||9-0|
|25||Houston||The Cougars have won 21 consecutive home games dating to last season. Corey Davis Jr. is averaging a team-high 16.9 points and 4.6 assists.||--||8-0|
|26||Oklahoma||The Sooners' lone loss is a neutral-court loss to Wisconsin. Oklahoma owns wins over Florida, Notre Dame and Dayton.||--||8-1|
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