On Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on CBS, the No. 2 Auburn Tigers will host No. 12 Kentucky in a matchup between teams that are a combined 32-4. It's the game of the weekend and one of the five best matchups the sport's had to this point in the season.
It's also the biggest game in the history of Auburn Arena. The building is 11-plus years old and in that time Auburn has never been ranked so highly while also hosting a team as highly ranked, nationally relevant and good as Kentucky. In fact, the last time Auburn reached No. 2 in the AP Top 25 was 2000. Bruce Pearl's done something special this season, as we recently documented here at CBSSports.com.
It's a huge moment for Auburn, a significant game for the SEC race and a meaningful matchup in national score for men's college basketball, which will have this game serving as a lead-in to Saturday's NFL Playoffs. (Bengals at Titans on CBS will follow Wildcats-Tigers.)
I can't wait for it. This might be the biggest and most hyped regular season tilt Bruce Pearl's been a part of since that February 2008 Tennessee vs. Memphis No. 1-vs.-No. 2 affair. Pearl's Volunteers were on the road for that one but did win, ending Memphis' undefeated season. And the coach of those Memphis Tigers, of course, was John Calipari. Can't help but wonder if those guys will take a minute or two to think back and reflect on that game in advance of this one. They've faced each other many times since, but I'm not sure any regular season game between them since '08 has packed the ballyhoo like this one will. And with that, let's get to this week's power rankings. I've got Auburn and UK in the top 10.
Hey Nineteen Power Rankings
Reminder: My rankings are not solely about whom I think is "best." (Our Top 25 And 1 already does that daily.) The Hey Nineteen is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most interesting teams in college basketball, combining team quality with win quality but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks.
| Record: 17-1 | Last week: 1st. As expected, Auburn ripped through Georgia on Wednesday night to remain flawless in the SEC. Last time Auburn was 6-0 in the SEC, the year was 1959. In order for this team to match that team, it will need to win six more in a row in league play. I doubt that will happen, but it's still the hottest/best team in college hoops in January. Auburn leads the nation with 152 blocks. A phenomenal matchup at home awaits vs. Kentucky on Saturday on CBS. |
|Record: 14-2 | Last week: 4th. The Bulldogs host San Francisco tonight in what is – maybe – going to be the best WCC game Mark Few's team has had so far. Gonzaga is averaging 114 points in its last three games/first three league games. The last time Gonzaga scored at least 100 points in three straight games? This time. It'd never happened before. Gonzaga also had never scored at least 110 points in back-to-back games until this month.|
| Record: 14-1 | Last week: 8th. The Wildcats easily won home dates against Colorado and Utah since we last met, so at 14-1 this now marks the best start through 15 games for U of A since 2014-15. The No. 3 ranking in this week's AP poll reflects the strong start — Arizona hasn't been this highly ranked since 2017. Arizona has three games ahead before next week's power rankings refresh, the last of which will definitely shake up the order. On Tuesday, it's Arizona at UCLA. Roadies vs. Stanford and Cal come first, then the test at Pauley Pavilion. So it'll be three road games in a five-day span. If Arizona is still a one-loss team a week from now, Tommy Lloyd's team will most definitely be for real. (And basically already is.)|
| Record: 15-2 | Last week: 9th. The last time Wisconsin had a 15-2 basketball team was 2014-15. You might recall that team made the national championship game. The Badgers don't have the best résumé in the sport but they sure are close. With 10 combined Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins, Wisconsin has more than any other team. Six of those victories are Quad 1. Turns out, Greg Gard was the guy for this gig after all. He's won 65% of his games since taking over for Bo Ryan in 2015. How about this stat: UW has hit the 70-point mark in five straight Big Ten wins for the first time in 60 years. A huge Friday night game vs. Michigan State is on tap. |
| Record: 16-2. Last week: 10th. Kelvin Sampson's team was the lead item of this week's Court Report. The Cougars are a top-10 team once again but because there is no All-American candidate on this roster and because the American Athletic Conference has been a letdown, UH is being a bit glossed over. If Houston can peel off another three or four wins in a row, that probably won't be the case. Next up: a manageable one at home vs. East Carolina this weekend. |
| Record: 15-2. Last week: 12th. The Jayhawks came back from a first-half deficit against West Virginia to beat the Mountaineers by 26 points last weekend. On Tuesday, Kansas had a gutty road conquest against Oklahoma. That W was notable because Ochai Agbaji had his worst game of the season, but it didn't preclude KU from emerging victorious. I keep waiting for Remy Martin to surface in a significant way. If that happens, the Jayhawks will be must-see. |
| Record: 16-2 | Last week: 3rd. Impressive response by Baylor to go on the road after two consecutive home losses, take a 16-point first half lead at West Virginia, blow that lead entirely, but still regain composure to win 77-68. The Bears had to take a plunge after losing at home to Oklahoma State, but the fall is lessened by that road win recovery. We await to see how soon James Akinjo (lower back) and Jeremy Sochan (ankle) can return. Akinjo playing at a high level is what validates Baylor as a Final Four contender. |
| Record: 15-2 | Last week: 14th. A cherished double-OT road win vs. Illinois knocks the Illini out of the rankings and boosts Purdue back to where it belongs inside the top 10. One way Purdue has become the most reliable offense in men's college basketball is its free-throw rate. The Boilers have taken 386 free throws. Their opponents have only attempted 277. Thursday takes this team to Indiana for the 215th meeting in series history. It's the most-played Big Ten rivalry. Surprising: Purdue leads the series 124-89 and are riding a five-game winning streak at IU's joint. |
| Record: 15-2 | Last week: 15th. Winning 14 straight games in a multi-bid conference is going to get you in a good spot here at CBS Sports. If you're curious, Davidson's longest winning streak when Stephen Curry was there was 25 games. So, yeah, this team's got some work to do to match the legendary 2008-09 team that made the Elite Eight. This team has eight wins away from home and ranks second nationally in 3-point accuracy (42.2%). |
| Record: 15-3 | Last week: NR. I barely kept UK out of the rankings last week, but now there's no holding back the Cats. Texas A&M tried to hang on at home but lost by six points, becoming the first team this season to keep the margin in single digits while being beat by Kentucky. The Wildcats are now the No. 3 team at KenPom.com and have the No. 1 player in efficiency per Pomeroy's KPOY metric. That would of course be Oscar Tshiebwe, who had eight points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and three steals Wednesday night. |
| Record: 14-3. Last week: 5th. The Blue Devils' loss at FSU on Tuesday night marked the 13th straight time the Seminoles won a game that went to overtime. The chances of that happening are .1%. Absurdity. It was the eighth time Mike Krzyzewski lost at Florida State. Seven of the eight losses were by five points or fewer. We await to see how injured (or, ideally, not) Trevor Keels is after going down Tuesday. Keels has game-changing ability when he is dialed in and able to roam. |
| Record: 14-3 | Last week: 7th. When Tom Izzo says his team was overdue for a loss, I believe him. That's the only result for Sparty since last week's Hey Nineteen: a 74-72 home defeat against a Northwestern team whose lone win vs. a top-95 KenPom team is over these Spartans. It was a bad time to take a loss, as MSU will get four of its next five games on the road. The next two are at Wisconsin on Friday and at Illinois on Tuesday. Turns out, those three teams all currently shared the lead in the loss column of the Big Ten with one apiece. |
| Record: 14-4 | Last week: 11th. Texas Tech went 2-1 since last week's Hey Nineteen, so a small fall is all. Few had the Red Raiders ahead of Texas this season, but that's where things stand as late January creeps in. Mark Adams and his team took a loss at Kansas State on Saturday that was a little surprising, but K-State followed that with a road win over the Longhorns. TTU rebounded with a 12-point home win Tuesday night against Iowa State. |
| Record: 11-2. Last week: 6th. UCLA is obviously hoping all its schedule woes are in the rearview, but if that's the case then things are about to get arduous. The Bruins have a 10-day stretch, starting Friday, that will involve five games in that span. Pre-pandemic this kind of thing was almost unheard of. Now it's the cost of doing business in college basketball. Mick Cronin was outspoken against his school this week when he noted how deflating it is for his team to have to currently play home games without fans in attendance, whereas the Rams' home game for the NFL Playoffs was filled up. We'll see if things change on that front for the Bruins come February. |
| Record: 15-3 | Last week: 2nd. LSU got into a road game against Alabama on Wednesday night that featured 15 lead changes and five ties. Alabama got to 70 points and won the game, which marked the most points a team has dropped on LSU this season. The Bayou Bengals take a big tumble due to consecutive losses, the first of which came at home against mercurial Arkansas. Now comes a road test against Tennessee on Saturday. Even if the Tigers lose there, I'd caution against selling on this team. It has second-weekend tournament potential. |
| Record: 14-1 | Last week: 19th. The Rams went 2-0 in the past week with wins at San Jose State and at home over New Mexico. One reason for Colorado State's success is its foul shooting accuracy, which ranked seventh nationally last season and is No. 6 now (81%). Two years ago, the Rams ranked 270th. Practice your freebies, kids. Things should be quiet for the next 10 days; CSU's nearest opponent of consequence is Jan. 31 at Wyoming. More on that team in just a sec.|
| Record: 14-2. Last week: NR. Yep, one of the most recognizable mid-major brands out there is quite good again. Winners of 10 straight under first-year coach Drew Valentine, the Ramblers were a No. 6 seed in Jerry Palm's most recent Bracketology mock. A did-you-know: Only Purdue and Loyola Chicago have not taken a double-digit loss since Feb. 1, 2021. |
| Record: 14-2 | Last week: NR. A stunning inclusion, some might say. But I gotta do it. Wyoming is almost never this good and given how impressive its offense has been — in addition to a 3-0 start in Mountain West play — I'm going to reward recent success that includes four of the team's five wins on its current streak being road or neutral games. Jeff Linder is working some wonders in his second season with this program after flipping the culture at Northern Colorado. |
| Record: 13-6. | Last week: NR. No better candidate for the final spot. Sure, six losses are a lot compared to all others ranked above, but the win at Villanova on Wednesday night gave Marquette its first victory at Finneran Pavilion. Shaka Smart's team is riding a five-game winning streak and has vaulted into the NCAA Tournament conversation. There are tough games ahead in the next two weeks against fellow tourney contenders, but it's clear to see and fair to say that Smart has been one of the best new-face-new-place coaches in 2022. |