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.
This season, it has already been a carousel at the top, with Baylor representing the fourth team in four weeks to claim the number one rank in the AP Poll. There is a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks before we get into the thick of conference play.
When I write these college basketball rankings, I write them based on how teams are in the moment, rather than where I expect them to be come March. I will mention my anticipation of future positive or negative regression, but the rankings themselves express teams’ rankings to date. Let’s take a look at early season rankings.
College Basketball Power Rankings Week 6
|Team (AP Rank)||Rank (Δ)||Last Week||Next Week||Notes|
|Baylor(1)||1||W 57-36 vs (9) Villanova||@ Oregon (Dec 18th)||Baylor gets the number one by default after suffocating a potent Villanova offense.|
|Arizona (8)||2||W 83-79 @ Illinois; W 94-65 vs. Wyoming||vs. Northern Colorado (Dec 15th); vs. Cal Baptist (Dec 18)||The international squad is firing on all cylinders, perhaps the hottest team in the nation right now.|
|Alabama (6)||3||W 83-82 vs. (14) Houston||@ Memphis (Dec 14th); vs. Jacksonville St. (Dec 18th)||Beyond their slip-up against Iona, the Crimson Tide has shown up of late, taking down Gonzaga and Houston in their last two matchups.|
|Kansas (7)||4||W 102-65 vs. Missouri; W 78-52 vs. UTEP||vs. Stephen F. Austin (Dec 18th)||This Jayhawk team is still figuring out their identity with only one meaningful win so far early in the year.|
|Purdue (3)||5||L 70-68 @ Rutgers; W 82-72 vs. N.C. State||vs. Butler (Dec 18th)||The Boilermakers have not shown peak performance in their most recent two outings but should bounce back against Butler.|
|Auburn (13)||6||W 99-68 vs. Nebraska||vs. North Alabama (Dec 14th); @ Saint Louis (Dec 18th)||Auburn has flown relatively under the radar for how great the team has played.|
|Duke (2)||7||—||vs. South Carolina St. (Dec 14th); vs. Appalachian St. (Dec 16th); vs. Cleveland St. (Dec 18th)||A two-week break after an Ohio State loss should allow the Blue Devils to scoop up three easy wins.|
|Gonzaga (5)||8||W 80-55 vs. Merrimack||vs. (25) Texas Tech (Dec 18)||Mark Few’s Bulldogs have had their weaknesses shown in the early going this season. Their game against Texas Tech will be another nice test to see where they’re at.|
|UCLA (4)||9||W 67-56 vs. Marquette||vs. Alabama St. (Dec 15th); vs. North Carolina (Dec 18th)||After faltering to Gonzaga, UCLA has pulled off three straight wins but seems to be in cruise control from an analytical standpoint.|
|Houston (14)||10||L 83-82 @ Alabama||vs. Louisiana (Dec 14th)’ vs. Oklahoma State (Dec 18th)||Houston’s two losses have been by a combined three points. This team is a legitimate threat that should not be underrated.|
|Villanova (9)||11||L 57-36 @ Baylor; W 67-53 vs. Syracuse||@ Creighton (Dec 17th)||The Wildcats are left licking their wounds after a drubbing from Baylor.|
|USC (10)||12||W 73-62 vs. Long Beach State||vs. UC Irvine (Dec 15th); vs. Georgia Tech (Dec 18th)||It’s been a bit of a surprise how the Trojans have played this season, but they have yet to face any tough opponents.|
|Texas (17)||13||L 64-60 @ Seton Hall||vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff (Dec 14th); vs. Stanford (Dec 19th)||The Longhorns’ two losses were both on the road against ranked opponents. I am not too worried about the way they’re playing.|
|LSU (19)||14||W 69-53 vs. Georgia Tech||vs. Northwestern St. (Dec 14th); vs. Louisiana Tech (Dec 18th)||It is tough to tell how legitimate the Tigers’ team is, considering they have yet to face a KenPom top-50 team.|
|Iowa State (11)||15||W 47-37 vs. Jackson State; W 73-53 vs. Iowa||vs. Southeastern Louisiana (Dec 19th)||I am still a little skeptical on the cyclones, especially after only scoring 47 against Jackson State, but their record is impressive nonetheless|
|Tennessee (17)||16||W 76-36 vs. UNC Greensboro||vs. USC Upstate (Dec 14th); vs. Memphis (Dec 18th)||Tennessee’s defense has been top tier so far, suffocating UNC Greensboro last time out.|
|Michigan State (12)||17||W 80-64 vs. Penn State; W 75-67 vs. Minnesota||—||The Spartans escaped with two wins back in November and cruised by Minnesota and Penn State to earn a break from the Big Ten until the New Year.|
|Ohio State (15)||18||W 73-55 vs. Wisconsin; W 85-74 vs. Towson||vs. (21) Kentucky (Dec 18th)||The Buckeyes’ two recent wins against Duke and Wisconsin were impressive, giving them some solid momentum heading into their matchup vs. Kentucky.|
|Seton Hall (16)||19||W 77-63 vs. Rutgers; W 64-60 vs. Texas||vs. Iona (Dec 18th)||The Pirates might be one of the fastest risers in the field. I would not be surprised for them to land in the top-10 before the New Year.|
|Texas Tech (25)||20||W 57-52 vs. Tennessee||vs. Arkansas State (Dec 14); vs.(5) Gonzaga (Dec 18th)||So far, an easy schedule has made it tough to judge the Red Raiders objectively. Their win over Tennessee, however, cannot go unnoticed.|
|Xavier (22)||21||W 83-63 vs. Cincinnati||vs. Morehead State (Dec 15th); vs. Morehead State (Dec 15th)||Other than a hiccup against Iowa State, Xavier has been playing well, with both of their last two wins coming by 20+.|
|Wisconsin||22||L 73-55 @ Ohio State; W 64-69 vs. Indiana||vs. Nicholls State (Dec 15th)||Wisconsin has been up and down, earning a nice win against Houston but struggling against Ohio State and Providence.|
|Colorado State||23||W 66-63 vs. Mississippi State||vs. Tulsa (Dec 18th)||Colorado State is playing at an incredible clip so far. I expect them to regress significantly in the coming months, but they are on fire right now.|
|San Francisco||24||W 71-63 vs. Fresno State||vs. Grand Canyon (Dec 18th)||I am all in on the Dons and have already saved the January 6th date in my calendar when they face Gonzaga.|
|UConn (20)||25||W 74-64 vs. St. Bonaventure||vs. Providence (Dec 18th)||The Huskies stumbled against West Virginia but round out the top-25.|
Since this is the first installation of my power rankings, of course, there will be no explaining of movement in the rankings. I will, however, provide reasoning behind some of my choices.
Arizona – At this point, there is no reason for me to believe the Wildcats are not a legitimate title contender. Not only have they been successful, but their success is sustainable. Their scoring comes from inside-the-paint, and their height crushes other teams. Tommy Lloyd leads an efficient offense and an elite defense, limiting opponents to 38% 2pt shooting, the best in the nation. Each starter from a different country adds a fun narrative to this team, making them a fan favorite to do well come March.
The Undefeated – Besides Baylor and Arizona, Iowa State, USC LSU, Colorado State, and San Francisco still have goose eggs in the loss column. Regarding ranking them, how I viewed them before the season still holds influence, but comparative strengths of wins. USC has been the most dominant and consistent to me, with their road win over a top-50 Washington State as their closest instance to defeat. Iowa State has better wins than LSU, but also more to prove, and the Cyclones offense is a bit shaky.
As for the mid-majors, Colorado State has been lighting it up, beating Saint Mary’s by double-digits and leading the nation in three-point shooting. As I said in my notes, while I do not see their current success as sustainable, I see them as a serious tournament threat come March. San Francisco, on the other hand, I am all-in on. It will be exhilarating to see this team take on the WCC, and don’t be surprised if they can keep up with Gonzaga.
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