With college basketball in full swing, I will be writing a weekly power rankings article to get you up to speed on the risers and fallers of the week, along with any other important storylines to be aware of.
Oh boy, there was a lot that happened this past week. There were upsets galore, games were moved and matched around, Johnny Davis had himself quite a week and we got the ball rolling on the major-conference play. This week was the most topsy-turvy in terms of movement since I’ve begun doing power rankings. Honestly, it’s the best – love me some good ol fashioned parity. Remember not to judge a team by a single game played. While every data point is important, teams are collectives of their season, not how they played any one game.
When I write these college basketball rankings, I write them based on how teams are in the moment, rather than based on where I expect them to be come March. I will mention my anticipation of future positive or negative regression, but the rankings themselves simply express teams’ rankings to date. Let’s take a look at mid-season rankings.
Men’s College Basketball Power Rankings: Week 10
Movers & Shakers
Man what a week we had! Only two teams stayed stagnant in the AP Poll - Baylor and Michigan State. Auburn finally made the leap I’ve been expecting them to make for a while now. It will be awesome to watch them take on the Crimson Tide and I expect the crux of the game to come down to the interior battle. Kansas fell to Texas Tech despite the Red Raiders missing two of their top point-getters. I would say the Jayhawks are on ‘concern watch’ as of right now. Their best win is against Michigan State which happened way back at the beginning of November. Since then, they have yet to defeat a top-25 team in any ranking. While they are trending down, their matchup against the Cyclones is a great opportunity to add to their resume. Wisconsin is probably the team with the most hype around their program after three straight victories over Purdue, Iowa, and a close-call win over Maryland. Johnny Davis is poised as a Wooden Award candidate that could very easily carry this team deep into the tournament.
In recent weeks, Villanova has found its groove with four-straight impressive conference victories. They easily defeated Xavier in their last game but the rematch should still be elite basketball watching. Last time out, Xavier held Nova’s three-point scoring to minimal damage, and they will have to do that again, along with finishing out the second-half strong which the Musketeers did not do at all last time out. Loyola-Chicago earned the final spot in the top-25 for me because not only have they been playing efficient basketball but they have yet to really skip a beat. Their only two losses are to Michigan State and Auburn and now they hold a win over San Francisco after a Covid-19 pause which is impressive. They’re currently riding a seven-game winning streak and boast a top-tier offense.
I figured to give a focus on a team each week outside of the top-25 that still could very well hold an argument to not only be ranked but to be on everyone’s radar come tourney time. This week’s focus: Davidson.
Despite being projected as a middle-of-the-pack team in the Atlantic 10 this season, Davidson has been nothing short of impressive. Hyungjung Lee is a consistent and effective exterior scorer, combined with Luka Brajkovic who is equally as effective in the paint. After an unstable start, the Wildcats have absolutely found their groove, not only winning 11-straight but taking down Alabama and Rhode Island along the way. Their all-around scoring is not only ridiculously efficient but leaves little room for off games, as they have plenty of routes to take if one is blocked off. Davidson’s defense is nothing to go crazy for, but it is enough to keep up with top-tier teams. I see the Wildcats as a seven or eight seed in March with all of the potential in the world to wreak havoc.
Covid-19 and Injuries
With 60-plus teams on pause due to coronavirus concerns, it will be difficult to pass down accurate judgment for when teams on pause resume play. Some games might even be canceled or changed by the time this article gets published. Of course, the hope is that teams will be able to play all scheduled games, but January may be a wild wild west scenario when it comes to the cancellation of games. Simply from the angle of rankings and when we look back on these games, remember how teams play after coming out of Covid-19 pause, and perhaps take it with a grain of salt. Not only this but winning off long pauses may even be more impressive such as Xavier, UCLA, or Loyola-Chicago recently. Be sure to remember injuries as well. A way to monitor this is simply to look back at the AP game recaps if there is a bad loss or weird outcome. Texas Tech still managed a comfortable victory over Kansas without two key components to their team. This is important to remember because it makes them even more dangerous when they are fully healthy. There is a lot to research when filling out your bracket, but these are equally important items to keep in mind come March.
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