- Michigan continued its impressive start while a host of mid-tier teams fell to give a new look to this week's college hoops power rankings.
After the top tier of elite teams, college basketball already feels particularly wide-open this year. This is only our fourth iteration of the 2018–19, power rankings and spots 11 through 25 have felt like a revolving door from week-to-week, creating a scenario where teams are moving up to the fringe of the top 10 almost by default. In fact, in the last week alone, seven teams that we had ranked from 11 through 20 lost.
But one team that hasn't even come close to losing so far is Michigan. The Wolverines have won their eight games by an average of 21.4 points and have defeated Villanova, North Carolina, Purdue and Providence by an average of 20.5. The most points they've surrendered has been 67, to a Tar Heel team with the nation's fourth-most efficient offense, and Michigan's defense ranks comfortably No. 1 on kenpom.com. The Wolverines are clearly the new favorite in the Big Ten and a legitimate contender nationally as well.
Our Week 4 Power Rankings are below, but first, some notable performances—for better or for worse—from last week's top 25...
Five on the Rise
The five most impressive team performances of the last week:
Michigan: We discussed the Wolverines above, but they're showing no signs of slowing down after downing both UNC and Purdue by double-digits in the last week. Michigan shot 50% from three in both games.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs got more unfortunate injury news last week after guard Geno Crandall broke his hand, sidelining him for four-to-six weeks. With Killian Tillie still on the mend, the loss of Crandall further cut into the Zags' depth right as their schedule started its toughest stretch. They passed the first hurdle with a barn-burner win at Creighton on Saturday, but still have Washington (at home), Tennessee (in Phoenix) and UNC (on the road) up next.
Virginia: The Cavaliers' defense wasn't at its best against Maryland, giving up 70 points and more than 1.10 per possession for only the second time since the start of the 2017–18 season (the other time was—of course—UMBC), but their offense was impressive in a road win in College Park. Virginia worked hard to get looks for Kyle Guy, who was on fire in the first half and made five threes on the night, and De'Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and even Jack Salt also shined. It was a reminder that this Virginia team can win in more ways than one.
Wisconsin: The Badgers had a strong week, coming back to beat NC State at home before winning a hard-fought battle in Iowa to open Big Ten play. D'Mitrik Trice bounced back well from a rough showing in Wisconsin's only loss (to Virginia) and returned to absolutely lighting it up from the perimeter, going a combined 8 for 13 in the two games to raise his season average to 58.3%.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles could be getting on track after the early blowout loss to Indiana and a Thanksgiving Eve loss to Kansas. Marquette has now won three straight, including a much-needed victory over a top-15 Kansas State team at home on Saturday. Its win over Louisville also looks even better after the Cardinals beat both Michigan State and Seton Hall in the last week.
Not Their Best Work
Three teams from last week's top 25 that had a bad or middling week:
North Carolina: The Tar Heels' defensive concerns came to a head again in a loss to Michigan that turned into a rout early in the second half. Roy Williams did not hold back afterwards, saying he had "no positives" and that he feels like he's done "the worst job with this team in 31 years as a head coach." Things might not be quite that dire, but UNC needs to figure things out fast before a critical stretch to end the calendar year. Offensively, they need more out of Luke Maye, who hasn't scored more than 16 since the opener, and Williams is going to need to figure out what his plan going forward is with Nassir Little. Both the interior and perimeter defense also need work; in its last three games, UNC's opponents have shot 54% inside the arc and 47% beyond it.
Michigan State: Losing in overtime on the road at Louisville isn’t some huge letdown, but the Spartans showed some surprisingly poor end-of-game execution for a veteran-led team. Junior guard Cassius Winston fouled out with four minutes left in regulation and Michigan State missed three critical free throws in the final 1:09. Then, with his team down three in the final seconds of overtime, junior Joshua Langford missed the first of two free throws. Needing to intentionally miss the second for the Spartans to keep alive any hope, Langford inexplicably didn’t know the ball had to hit the rim and banged it off the backboard. At least we got a great Tom Izzo GIF out of it.
Kansas State: Entering Saturday, the Wildcats’ toughest opponent of the season had been Missouri, a team currently ranked 96th on kenpom.com. A road trip to Marquette was a significant step up, and Markus Howard torched them for 45 points, attempting an astounding 21 free throws. More concerningly, Kansas State became the first major conference team so far to fail to score at least 1.0 points per possession against the Golden Eagles.
Mid-Major Thumbs Up
A mid-major team outside the top 25 that nonetheless deserves praise for its week:
Radford: After knocking off a ranked Texas team in Austin on Friday night, the Highlanders now have two road wins over Power 5 teams through one month (they beat Notre Dame earlier in November). Impressively, Radford held Texas to its lowest point total (59) of the season so far. The favorite to win the Big South conference, the Highlanders aren’t going to be a team high-majors will be eager to face in March.
Top 25 Power Rankings
1. Kansas (6–0)
Last Week (1): beat Stanford
Up Next: vs. Wofford, vs. New Mexico State
2. Gonzaga (8–0)
Last Week (2): beat North Dakota State, beat Creighton
Up Next: vs. Washington, vs. Tennessee*
3. Duke (7–1)
Last Week (3): beat Indiana, beat Stetson
Up Next: vs. Hartford, vs. Yale
4. Michigan (8–0)
Last Week (8): beat North Carolina, beat Purdue
Up Next: at Northwestern, vs. South Carolina
5. Virginia (7–0)
Last Week (5): beat Maryland
Up Next: vs. Morgan State, vs. VCU
6. Nevada (8–0)
Last Week (5): beat Loyola-Chicago, beat USC
Up Next: vs. Arizona State*, at Grand Canyon
7. Tennessee (6–1)
Last Week (6): beat Eastern Kentucky, beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Up Next: vs. Gonzaga*
8. Auburn (6–1)
Last Week (7): beat Saint Peter's
Up Next: vs. UNC Asheville, vs. Dayton
9. Kentucky (7–1)
Last Week (10): beat Monmouth, beat UNC Greensboro
Up Next: vs. Seton Hall*
10. Florida State (6–1)
Last Week (17): beat Purdue
Up Next: vs. Troy, vs. UConn*
11. Michigan State (6–2)
Last Week (9): lost to Louisville, beat Rutgers
Up Next: vs. Iowa, at Florida
12. Buffalo (7–0)
Last Week (15): beat Milwaukee, beat San Francisco
Up Next: vs. D-II Le Moyne, at St. Bonaventure
13. Texas Tech (7–0)
Last Week (19): beat Memphis
Up Next: vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff
14. Kansas State (6–1)
Last Week (11): lost to Marquette
Up Next: at Tulsa
15. Arizona State (7–0)
Last Week (21): beat Nebraska Omaha, beat Texas Southern
Up Next: vs. Nevada*
16. Virginia Tech (6–1)
Last Week (12): lost to Penn State, beat Central Connecticut
Up Next: vs. VMI, vs. South Carolina State
17. North Carolina (6–2)
Last Week (13): lost to Michigan
Up Next: vs. UNC Wilmington
18. Wisconsin (7–1)
Last Week (NR): beat NC State, beat Iowa
Up Next: vs. Rutgers, at Marquette
19. Iowa (6–1)
Last Week (14): beat Pitt, lost to Wisconsin
Up Next: at Michigan State, vs. Iowa State
20. Furman (8–0)
Last Week (22): beat Western Carolina
Up Next: at Elon, at USC Upstate
21. Villanova (6–2)
Last Week (23): beat La Salle
Up Next: vs. Temple, vs. Saint Joseph's
22. Purdue (5–3)
Last Week (16): lost to Florida State, lost to Michigan
Up Next: vs. Maryland, at Texas
23. Mississippi State (6–1)
Last Week (25): beat Alcorn State, beat Dayton
Up Next: vs. McNeese State, vs. Clemson*
24. Ohio State (6–1)
Last Week (20): lost to Syracuse, beat Minnesota
Up Next: at Illinois
25. Marquette (6–2)
Last Week (NR): beat Charleston Southern, beat Kansas State
Up Next: vs. UTEP, vs. Wisconsin
Dropped Out: Texas, Indiana
Next Man Up: Maryland, Nebraska, Louisville