• A relatively light week in college hoops didn't stop movement from happening in our top 25 power rankings. Here's where everyone stands with a game or two to go before the holiday lull hits in full.
By Molly Geary
December 17, 2018

It was a largely light week in college basketball with so many schools being in the middle of finals, but Saturday still provided the excitement with a day that began with Kansas holding on against Villanova at Allen Fieldhouse and peaked with UNC hanging a hundred in a victory over Gonzaga in Chapel Hill. There was plenty of inriguing action elsewhere as well, including at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis and even in Atlantic City. With just a week to go before most teams break for Christmas, where do things stand?

Our Week 6 Power Rankings are below, but first, some notable performances—for better or for worse—from last week's top 25...

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Five on the Rise

The five most impressive team performances of the last week:

North Carolina: The Tar Heels got the signature win they badly needed at home against Gonzaga, putting on an offensive clinic as part of a 103-point outburst. North Carolina scored 1.23 points per possession and made 13 of 25 threes (Cameron Johnson, who had a game-high 25 points, connected on six of eight himself), but maybe the most important individual effort was the fact that Luke Maye scored 20 for the first time since the season opener. Maye also added 16 rebounds for his second double double in three games.

Kansas: The Jayhawks can't go any higher here, and their three-point home win over Villanova was a little too close for comfort (a trend lately for KU), but Kansas continues to find ways to win, even without injured 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike. The contributions of Lagerald Vick and Dedric Lawson have been invaluable so far this season.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs scored 70 points and 1.11 PPP on a sturdy Cincinnati defense to get a key double-digit win at home over the Bearcats, and they continue to look good since dropping an early game to Arizona State. While several SEC teams have disappointed relative to expectations so far this season, Mississippi State is not one of them.

Indiana: For the second straight year, Juwan Morgan put on a huge performance at the Crossroads Classic, this time scoring 35 points and going 12 for 14 from the field to lead a narrow win over Butler. But it was freshman Rob Phinisee who brought the fireworks at the end, beating the buzzer with a deep three to deliver a Hoosiers victory. Indiana's last four games have been won by a total of eight points, but it now has five top-50 wins on the season and has firmly put a blowout in Durham in the rearview mirror.

Houston: Were it not for Furman, the Cougars might be the most surprising undefeated team at this juncture, and they're now 10–0 after a week that included home wins over LSU and Saint Louis. Armoni Brooks and Corey Davis Jr. are a strong one-two punch for Houston, combining to average more than 31 points per game, but it was senior point guard Galen Robinson who shined the brightest against the Tigers.

Not Their Best Work

Three teams from last week's top 25 that had a bad or middling week:

Villanova: Beating Kansas in Lawrence was always going to be a difficult task, but losing to Penn at the Palestra was just another sign that the Wildcats still have plenty of growing to do this season. Defense is a hefty concern for 'Nova, as is the large number of three-pointers it's hoisting. The Wildcats are taking 53.1% of their shots from the perimeter—more than every team in Division I except for Savannah State—and notably more than the 47.5% they took from three last season. Considering their team three-point percentage has dropped from 40.1% to 33.8%, that doesn't sound like a winning formula.

Gonzaga: The Zags have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2014, but doing it against two top-10 teams—one on a neutral court and one in a raucous road environment—is as understandable as it gets. Most are aware that Gonzaga is playing short-handed right now, without key starter Killian Tillie and role player Geno Crandall, but the defensive concerns are still mounting. After giving up 103 points to UNC, the Bulldogs' D now ranks 63rd nationally on kenpom.com.

Syracuse: The Orange had a quick stay in our power rankings before falling to Old Dominion at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The Monarchs are a solid mid-major team that plays good defense, but it's a game Syracuse should be expected to win, especially at home. The Orange got zero points out of centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe and were out-rebounded as a team by five. Now, a hungry Buffalo team comes to town.

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Mid-Major Thumbs Up

A mid-major team outside the top 25 that nonetheless deserves praise for its week:

Belmont: The Bruins used their trusty fake-panic backdoor play to knock off UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday and are now 8–1 on the year, including two wins over Lipscomb, a team that has previously appeared in this space. Belmont hasn't quite been the shooting team it was last year, when it led the nation in two-point percentage and was third in effective field goal percentage, but it's playing at a much quicker tempo and spending an average of only 14.7 seconds per defensive possession, the shortest in the country, per kenpom.com.

Top 25 Power Rankings

1. Kansas (9–0)

Last Week (1): beat Villanova
Up Next: vs. South Dakota, at Arizona State

2. Duke (9–1)

Last Week (3): OFF
Up Next: vs. Texas Tech

3. Tennessee (8–1)

Last Week (4): beat Memphis
Up Next: vs. Samford, vs. Wake Forest

4. Michigan (11–0)

Last Week (5): beat Western Michigan
Up Next: vs. Air Force

5. Virginia (9–0)

Last Week (6): OFF
Up Next: at South Carolina, vs. William & Mary

6. Nevada (10–0)

Last Week (7): beat South Dakota State
Up Next: vs. Akron

7. Gonzaga (9–2)

Last Week (2): lost to North Carolina
Up Next: vs. UT Arlington, vs. Denver

8. Auburn (9–1)

Last Week (8): beat UAB
Up Next: at NC State, vs. Murray State

9. Michigan State (9–2)

Last Week (9): beat Green Bay
Up Next: vs. Oakland

10. North Carolina (8–2)

Last Week (14): beat Gonzaga
Up Next: vs. Kentucky*

11. Florida State (8–1)

Last Week (10): OFF
Up Next: vs. Southeast Missouri State, vs. North Florida, vs. St. Louis*

12. Buffalo (10–0)

Last Week (11): beat Southern Illinois
Up Next: at Syracuse, at Marquette

13. Texas Tech (10–0)

Last Week (12): beat Northwestern State, beat Abilene Christian
Up Next: vs. Duke*

14. Virginia Tech (9–1)

Last Week (13): beat Washington
Up Next: vs. North Carolina A&T

15. Mississippi State (9–1)

Last Week (15): beat Cincinnati
Up Next: vs. Wofford, vs. Wright State

16. Kentucky (8–2)

Last Week (16): beat Utah
Up Next: vs. North Carolina*

17. Arizona State (8–1)

Last Week (16): beat Georgia
Up Next: at Vanderbilt, vs. Kansas

18. Wisconsin (9–2)

Last Week (18): beat Savannah State
Up Next: vs. Grambling State

19. Indiana (9–2)

Last Week (22): beat Butler
Up Next: vs. Central Arkansas, vs. Jacksonville

20. Furman (12–0)

Last Week (19): beat Charleston Southern, beat UNC Wilmington
Up Next: at LSU

21. Ohio State (9–1)

Last Week (21): beat Bucknell
Up Next: vs. Youngstown State, vs. UCLA*

22. Marquette (8–2)

Last Week (23): OFF
Up Next: vs. North Dakota, vs. Buffalo

23. Nebraska (9–2)

Last Week (24): beat Oklahoma State
Up Next: vs. Cal State Fullerton

24. Houston (10–0)

Last Week (NR): beat LSU, beat St. Louis
Up Next: vs. Utah State, vs. Coppin State

25. Oklahoma (9–1)

Last Week (NR): beat USC
Up Next: vs. Creighton, at Northwestern

Dropped Out: Villanova, Syracuse

Next Man Up: Iowa, Maryland, St. John's

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