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  • There were plenty of losses to go around in college basketball in the past week, but none in the top 10, which is starting to really assert itself as a cut above the rest.
By Molly Geary
January 14, 2019

There may not be a better illustration of the top tier in college basketball this year than the fact that not a single team from the top 10 of our last Power Rankings lost in the past week, while all but three teams (Kentucky, Marquette and Buffalo) from Nos. 11 to 25 dropped at least one game. The result was utter chaos in trying to sort out the back half of the new rankings. Our top four—Duke, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia—could practically be considered interchangable, and 15–0 UVA hasn't even moved at all in 2019 because the teams above the Cavaliers haven't done anything to deserve getting bumped. 

It all sets the stage for Saturday's tantalizing clash between Duke and Virginia in Durham—though first, the Hoos will need to get past top-10 Virginia Tech at home. In the meantime, most of the country's top teams will just be looking to find some consistency from one week to the next, as leagues like the Big Ten, Big East and SEC beat up on each other nightly.

Which Conference Is the Deepest in 2018–19?

Our Week 10 Power Rankings are below, but first, some notable performances—for better or for worse—from last edition's top 25...

Five on the Rise

The five most impressive team performances of the last week:

Ole Miss: How about those Rebels? Expectations were extraordinarily low for Ole Miss in year one under Kermit Davis—it was picked to finish dead last in the SEC—yet the former Middle Tennessee coach has his team off to a 3–0 start in the SEC and contending for an NCAA tournament bid. After going 10–2 across a soft non-conference schedule, Ole Miss finally earned a pair of marquee wins last week, beating Auburn by 15 at home and then edging in-state rival Mississippi State on the road in a contest that had the feeling of a March clash. Truthfully, the Rebels' jump all the way to No. 14 below is probably too high, but that's what can happen when a team earns two ranked wins and so many others lose.

Marquette: While most of their Power Rankings peers from last week were losing in one form or another, the Golden Eagles were having a 2–0 week that included an improbable overtime win at Creighton—which saw Markus Howard pour in a Big East record 53 points—and a home win over Seton Hall. Howard's ability to get red-hot at any given moment (he had 14 points in overtime alone against the Bluejays) makes Marquette a dangerous team to any opponent, but it's the Golden Eagles' improvements on the defensive end that have made the difference this year, as they have gone from being ranked 182nd in kenpom.com adjusted efficiency on that end of the floor to 40th. 

Duke: The Blue Devils survived their first two road games of the season, pulling away in a big second half at Wake Forest before escaping Tallahassee on Saturday after a last-second, game-winning three by Cam Reddish. With Zion Williamson sitting out the second half after an eye poke, Reddish had a breakout game against the Seminoles, scoring more than 10 points for the first time since a Dec. 1 win over Stetson. He finished with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and had his best game from three in two months, hitting 5 of 8. If Reddish can carry his performance over to Duke's upcoming games—especially with Virginia looming on Saturday—it will make this team even scarier.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are the only team unscathed in Big 12 play so far, sitting atop the conference at 4–0 after wins over Oklahoma and Texas this week. While offensive concerns continue to persist and threaten Texas Tech's potential ceiling, what it's doing defensively so far this season is ridiculous. Per kenpom.com, the Raiders are giving up an adjusted 82.8 points per 100 possessions through 16 games. Last year, Virginia's No. 1 defense gave up 85.6, and no team in the kenpom era (that is, since 2002) has ever given up fewer than 84 over the course of a full season. We'll see if Tech can keep up its incredible pace.

Maryland: Winners of five straight, the Terps are the only non-Michigan school that hasn't yet lost two or more games in the loaded Big Ten, and they are coming off a week that featured a double-digit road win at Minnesota and a home win over Indiana. While Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando will deservedly get the spotlight for their recent strong play, the biggest thing that's helped Maryland take a step forward in 2019 has been the growth of its five freshmen, including role players Serrel Smith and Ricky Lindo.

Not Their Best Work

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

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs' bid as a dark horse candidate in the SEC got off to a rough start, with losses to South Carolina and upstart Ole Miss. Mississippi State turned it over a total of 31 times in those two games, including 10 by Quinndary Weatherspoon alone and eight by Lamar Peters. Fifteen combined missed free throws also loomed large, but they are probably less of a concern moving forward considering the Bulldogs are shooting 73.8% from the line as a team this season.

Iowa State: The Cyclones went from beating Kansas and looking like a serious Big 12 contender last weekend to losing back-to-back games at Baylor and at home against Kansas State by a total of four points. It's a reminder of both the gauntlet of the Big 12 and the fact that Iowa State is still integrating pieces that are still knocking off rust, like Lindell Wigginton, who missed 10 games of non-conference play with a foot strain. In addition to losing to the Wildcats Saturday, the Cyclones found out that Solomon Young, a starter last season, will miss the rest of the year after playing just 27 minutes.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes fell to both Rutgers and Iowa on the road and have now lost three straight—with a daunting four-game stretch up next against Maryland, Purdue, Nebraska and Michigan. Ohio State built a strong early résumé during non-conference play but needs to start picking up some notable wins in 2019.

Mid-Major Thumbs Up

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

Marshall: Thought to be an ideal March Cinderella candidate back in the preseason, the Thundering Herd didn't look the part at all during non-conference play, getting blown out by Virginia, Maryland and Texas A&M while also dropping games to Ohio, Duquesne and Toledo. Their disappointing performance also dropped them in the perceived pecking order of the C-USA race, with Old Dominion, North Texas and Louisiana Tech all emerging as contenders alongside preseason favorite Western Kentucky. But Marshall has since opened conference play with wins over the Monarchs, Hilltoppers and Charlotte, once again looking like a player for the regular-season crown. From where we sit, a team with the talented senior duo Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks should never be counted out.

Top 25 Power Rankings

1. Duke (14–1)

Last Week (1): beat Wake Forest, beat Florida State
Up Next: vs. Syracuse, vs. Virginia

2. Tennessee (14–1)

Last Week (2): beat Missouri, beat Florida
Up Next: vs. Arkansas, vs. Alabama

3. Michigan (17–0)

Last Week (3): beat Illinois, beat Northwestern
Up Next: at Wisconsin

4. Virginia (15–0)

Last Week (4): beat Boston College, beat Clemson
Up Next: vs. Virginia Tech, at Duke

5. Gonzaga (16–2)

Last Week (5): beat Pacific, beat San Francisco
Up Next: vs. Loyola Marymount, at Portland

6. Michigan State (15–2)

Last Week (6): beat Purdue, beat Penn State
Up Next: at Nebraska

7. Kansas (14–2)

Last Week (7): beat TCU, beat Baylor
Up Next: vs. Texas, at West Virginia

8. Texas Tech (15–1)

Last Week (9): beat Oklahoma, beat Texas
Up Next: vs. Iowa State, at Baylor

9. Virginia Tech (14–1)

Last Week (8): beat Georgia Tech
Up Next: at Virginia, vs. Wake Forest

10. Nevada (16–1)

Last Week (10): beat San Jose State, beat Fresno State
Up Next: at Boise State, vs. Air Force

11. Florida State (13–3)

Last Week (13): beat Miami, lost to Duke
Up Next: at Pittsburgh, at Boston College

12. Kentucky (12–3)

Last Week (14): beat Texas A&M, beat Vanderbilt
Up Next: at Georgia, at Auburn

13. Marquette (14–3)

Last Week (19): beat Creighton, beat Seton Hall
Up Next: at Georgetown, vs. Providence

14. Ole Miss (13–2)

Last Week (NR): beat Auburn, beat Mississippi State
Up Next: vs. LSU, vs. Arkansas

15. Auburn (12–3)

Last Week (11): lost to Ole Miss, beat Georgia
Up Next: at Texas A&M, vs. Kentucky

16. North Carolina (12–4)

Last Week (15): beat NC State, lost to Louisville
Up Next: vs. Notre Dame, at Miami

17. Buffalo (15–1)

Last Week (20): beat Toledo, beat Miami (OH)
Up Next: at Western Michigan, vs. Eastern Michigan

18. NC State (14–2)

Last Week (16): lost to North Carolina, beat Pittsburgh
Up Next: at Wake Forest, at Notre Dame

19. Mississippi State (12–3)

Last Week (12): lost to South Carolina, lost to Ole Miss
Up Next: vs. Florida, at Vanderbilt

20. Maryland (14–3)

Last Week (NR): beat Minnesota, beat Indiana
Up Next: vs. Wisconsin, at Ohio State

21. Villanova (13–4)

Last Week (NR): beat St. John's, beat Creighton
Up Next: vs. Xavier, at Butler

22. Houston (16–1)

Last Week (17): lost to Temple, beat Wichita State
Up Next: at SMU, at South Florida

23. Indiana (12–4)

Last Week (18): lost to Maryland
Up Next: vs. Nebraska, at Purdue

24. Louisville (11–5)

Last Week (NR): lost to Pittsburgh, beat North Carolina
Up Next: vs. Boston College, at Georgia Tech

25. Oklahoma (13–3)

Last Week (23): lost to Texas Tech, beat TCU
Up Next: vs. Kansas State, at Texas

Dropped Out: Iowa State, St. John's, Ohio State, TCU.

Next Man Up: Purdue, Iowa, TCU.

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