- There were plenty of changes in our top 25 ahead of the final week of college basketball's regular season, but No. 1 remained the same.
The end of the regular season is nearly here—and for some teams, it already is. As the first wave of conference tournaments get underway for the mid-major leagues, the rest of the nation has one more week of games to settle conference races and tourney seeding. If the last seven days of college hoops are any indication, we should be in for a thrilling final week, one that starts with Gonzaga on top as it looks to sweep the WCC regular season and tournament titles.
The rest of our latest 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:
Tennessee: The Vols sorely needed the kind of signature win they earned against Kentucky on Saturday—not because they didn't have any on the season, but because it'd been so long since their last one. And yes, Reid Travis missed this one after playing a pivotal role in the first meeting, but Tennessee flipping the script on Kentucky and holding the 'Cats to just 52 points, 0.79 per possession and a 36% mark on two-pointers is quite impressive.
Kansas: With their backs (and their 14-year Big 12 regular season title streak) against the wall last week, the Jayhawks responded by first defending their homecourt against rival Kansas State and then surviving a trip to Stillwater with a win over Oklahoma State that keeps them in the conference race. The odds of extending the streak still aren't great for Kansas, which can't control its own destiny, but it appears poised to at the very least go down swinging.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies really needed a marquee win on their résumé to validate their strong computer and poll rankings all season, and they got it in a home win over Duke. Zion Williamson may not have been playing, but neither was Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech's star guard who has been sidelined since the start of February. In his absence, junior center Kerry Blackshear has come up huge for the Hokies. He had 23 points and 10 rebounds against the Blue Devils.
Villanova: The Wildcats got back in the power rankings after they stopped the bleeding by knocking off Marquette, then avoided a letdown against Butler on Saturday. The pair of victories were much-needed for a 'Nova team that was starting to get off track right before the postseason, and, encouragingly, they found a way to beat the Golden Eagles despite yet again struggling from three. The Big East title is very much in play now, too, with the Wildcats protecting a half-game lead ahead of a season-ending trip to Seton Hall.
Michigan: Despite losing the services of Charles Matthews for both of its games this week (and an uncertain amount of time in the future), the Wolverines cruised past Nebraska at home before earning a gritty road win at Maryland thanks to the play of Iggy Brazdeikis and Zavier Simpson. Simpson was a perfect 6 for 6 inside the arc in College Park and showed off his skyhook on multiple occassions, and the fact that Michigan scored 1.19 PPP on a good defense without Matthews bodes well going forward.
Not Their Best Work
Four teams from last week's top 25 that had a bad or middling week:
Iowa State: The Cyclones are one of the nation's most perpexing teams, but they are clearly moving in the wrong direction right now. They've lost four of six, including a 17-point road defeat to a Texas team missing leading scorer Kerwin Roach on Saturday, and have fallen all the way to fifth in the Big 12. This team can live and die by the three sometimes and isn't getting enough consistent offensive help alongside Marial Shayok. Defensive concerns are also mounting after the Longhorns lit them up for 1.41 PPP, shooting 60% from three along the way.
Maryland: Slow starts are a recurring theme for the Terps this season, and it burned them badly in a blowout road loss to Penn State last week, where they gave up 78 points in their worst defensive performance in almost a month. Maryland then fell short at home against Michigan on Sunday after Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando combined to shoot 9 for 28 for the floor, which isn't going to cut it if this team hopes to make noise in the postseason.
Marquette: Another team that went 0–2 in the last week, the Golden Eagles blew their Big East lead on Villanova by first losing to the Wildcats at home and then coming up short on the road at Creighton. Marquette's offense was held below 1.0 PPP in both games, snapping a 10-game streak of it scoring 1.0 PPP or more that dated back to mid-January. Markus Howard had 33 points against the Bluejays; the rest of the Golden Eagles combined had only 27.
Kentucky: The Wildcats came down to Earth a bit by being humbled in Knoxville after barely escaping with a home win over Arkansas earlier in the week, and while not having Reid Travis is no doubt a difference-maker, it doesn't excuse the offensive performance Kentucky put on against the Vols. PJ Washington was the lone Wildcat to finish in double figures, and even he only had 13 points and attempted just four shots inside the arc. Tyler Herro had nearly as many turnovers (five) as points (six), and the Wildcats’ starters (Washington, Herro, Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson and Nick Richards) combined for nine made shots. That's just not going to cut it.
Mid-Major Thumbs Up
A mid-major team outside the top 25 that nonetheless deserves praise for its week:
Utah State: The Aggies gave their chances of getting an at-large NCAA tournament bid (should they not win the Mountain West tournament) a huge boost by knocking off Nevada at home on Saturday night. Junior Sam Merrill had 29 points and took a pivotal charge call late to seal the win, and Utah State's defense held Wolf Pack senior Jordan Caroline to just seven points on 3-for-15 shooting from the floor. The Aggies, who have won 13 of 14 as they continue to overachieve in Craig Smith's first season at the helm, are looking like they may be on a collision course for a rubber match with Nevada in the conference tournament final.
Top 25 Power Rankings
1. Gonzaga (29–2)
Last Week (1): beat Pacific, beat Saint Mary's
Up Next: WCC Tournament
2. Virginia (26–2)
Last Week (4): beat Georgia Tech, beat Pittsburgh
Up Next: at Syracuse, vs. Louisville
3. North Carolina (24–5)
Last Week (5): beat Syracuse, beat Clemson
Up Next: at Boston College, vs. Duke
4. Duke (25–4)
Last Week (2): lost to Virginia Tech, beat Miami
Up Next: vs. Wake Forest, at North Carolina
5. Tennessee (26–3)
Last Week (7): beat Ole Miss, beat Kentucky
Up Next: vs. Mississippi State, at Auburn
6. Kentucky (24–5)
Last Week (3): beat Arkansas, lost to Tennessee
Up Next: at Ole Miss, vs. Florida
7. Michigan (26–4)
Last Week (10): beat Nebraska, beat Maryland
Up Next: at Michigan State
8. Michigan State (23–6)
Last Week (6): lost to Indiana
Up Next: vs. Nebraska, vs. Michigan
9. LSU (24–5)
Last Week (11): beat Texas A&M, beat Alabama
Up Next: at Florida, vs. Vanderbilt
10. Purdue (22–7)
Last Week (12): beat Illinois, beat Ohio State
Up Next: at Minnesota, at Northwestern
11. Houston (27–2)
Last Week (8): beat East Carolina, lost to UCF
Up Next: vs. SMU, at Cincinnati
12. Texas Tech (24–5)
Last Week (15): beat Oklahoma State, beat TCU
Up Next: vs. Texas, at Iowa State
13. Kansas (22–7)
Last Week (17): beat Kansas State, beat Oklahoma State
Up Next: at Oklahoma, vs. Baylor
14. Marquette (23–6)
Last Week (9): lost to Villanova, lost to Creighton
Up Next: at Seton Hall, vs. Georgetown
15. Virginia Tech (22–6)
Last Week (19): beat Duke
Up Next: at Florida State, vs. Miami
16. Kansas State (23–6)
Last Week (14): lost to Kansas, beat Baylor
Up Next: at TCU, vs. Oklahoma
17. Nevada (26–3)
Last Week (13): beat UNLV, lost to Utah State
Up Next: at Air Force, vs. San Diego State
18. Cincinnati (25–4)
Last Week (20): beat SMU, beat Memphis
Up Next: at UCF, vs. Houston
19. Wisconsin (20–9)
Last Week (16): lost to Indiana, beat Penn State
Up Next: vs. Iowa, at Ohio State
20. Florida State (22–5)
Last Week (22): beat Notre Dame, beat NC State
Up Next: vs. Virginia Tech, at Wake Forest
21. Buffalo (26–3)
Last Week (23): beat Akron, beat Miami-Ohio
Up Next: at Ohio, vs. Bowling Green
22. Wofford (26–4)
Last Week (25): beat Chattanooga, beat Samford
Up Next: SoCon Tournament
23. Villanova (22–8)
Last Week (NR): beat Marquette, beat Butler
Up Next: at Seton Hall
24. Auburn (20–9)
Last Week (NR): beat Georgia, beat Mississippi State
Up Next: at Alabama, vs. Tennessee
25. Maryland (21–9)
Last Week (18): lost to Penn State, lost to Michigan
Up Next: vs. Minnesota
Dropped Out: Iowa, Iowa State.
Next Man Up: Louisville, Mississippi State, UCF.