We finally have a shakeup at the top of our rankings as the two remaining unbeatens in college hoops went down last week. Wisconsin ended Michigan’s 17-game winning streak to start the season with a courageous victory in Madison, while Duke pushed past point guard Tre Jones’s injury to defeat Virginia. But the Blue Devils’ slip-up against Syracuse last Monday opened the door for a new top dog in the weekly power rankings. A new shade of orange has done wonders for Rick Barnes, as Tennessee won its 12th straight on Saturday. Circle your calendar for Feb. 16 when the Volunteers head to Kentucky.
There will be no shortage of premier matchups this week. Maryland’s youngsters will earn a key test at Michigan State on Monday, while Kansas at Kentucky headlines the weekend slate.
Our latest 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:
Kentucky: Cruising past Georgia on Tuesday was a welcome sign, but the Wildcats’ road win over Auburn on Saturday is what stands out as one of the week’s best victories. Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson each poured in 20 points in Kentucky’s 82–80 win, leading the way for a 54% shooting performance from the field. The Wildcats’ offense is beginning to hit its stride as we approach February, improving over the year as most John Calipari squads do. Matchups against Mississippi State and Kansas are on the slate this week, quality tests for a roster that has yet to reach its potential. Rupp Arena will be rocking on Saturday night as Kentucky hosts the Jayhawks, providing an opportunity for the Wildcats’ best win of the year.
Marquette: Nobody will mistake Georgetown for the top of the Big East, but good on the Golden Eagles for winning without Markus Howard. Marquette defeated the Hoyas on Tuesday despite two shot attempts and zero points from Howard, who left the game in the first half with back tightness. Junior Sam Hauser stepped up in Howard’s absence, scoring 31 points including four threes in the road victory. A healthy Howard returned on Sunday. With Marquette legend Dwyane Wade in attendance at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Howard scored 24 points in a win over Providence.
Iowa State: The Cyclones rolled into Lubbock and defeated Texas Tech on Wednesday night, staking their claim as the premier challenger to Kansas’ reign in the Big 12. Transfer sensation Marial Shayok led the way with 20 points, outplaying Red Raiders star Jarrett Culver, who went 7-of-21 from the field. Shayok is the headliner, but the Cyclones have a reliable slate of offensive contributors, including a pair of impressive freshmen in Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton. Last year’s 13–18 effort was an aberration. Expect the Cyclones to return to form this season and finish in the top three of the Big 12.
Maryland: The Terps are on fire with seven consecutive wins, defeating Wisconsin in College Park last week before strolling into Columbus and handing Ohio State a 14-point loss. Maryland now sits second in the Big Ten and has established itself as the top team in the conference behind Michigan and Michigan State. The Terrapins’ kids are growing up fast—especially sophomore big Bruno Fernando—and it should lead to a better finish in the Big Ten than previously expected.
Gonzaga: Gonzaga tends to fade from the spotlight as conference play heats up, with the nation looking away from the West Coast Conference and toward high-profile battles in the major conferences. But don’t discount just how dominant the Bulldogs can be. They’ve outscored opponents by an average of 34.8 points since Dec. 18, winning nine in a row. Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall have returned to the lineup, adding additional scoring punch to an already-impressive unit. Expect Gonzaga to cruise through the rest of the regular season, perhaps sporting only two losses on its résumé at the start of the NCAA tournament.
Not Their Best Work
Three teams from last week's top 25 that had a bad or middling week:
Florida State: Cam Reddish’s buzzer beater defeated the Seminoles on Jan. 12, but Florida State still entered last week at 13–3, comfortably in the top 25. That’s not the case after this week. The Seminoles dropped back-to-back road contests against unranked teams, with a defeat at Pittsburgh on Monday followed by a loss to Boston College on Sunday. The Eagles pulled off the upset behind 37 points from junior Ky Bowman, marking Boston College’s first ACC win of the season. Florida State now enters the week one spot out of the conference cellar.
Indiana: It’s now four-straight losses for the Hoosiers, dropping them to 3–4 in the Big Ten. Indiana lost to Nebraska and Purdue this week and didn’t exactly look competitive in either matchup. The more disappointing effort came on Monday, a 66–51 loss to Nebraska at home in which the Hoosiers made just 19 field goals, including a 2–14 effort from beyond the arc. The road doesn’t get much smoother in the next two weeks as Indiana hosts Michigan on Jan. 25 and travels to Michigan State on Feb. 2. Easy nights in the Big Ten are few and far between.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders don’t have much to be ashamed of after a winless week in which they lost to a surging Iowa State squad on Wednesday, then dropped a road battle at Baylor on Saturday. The Big 12 is a tough conference for road opponents, and Chris Beard should still steady his team to a quality NCAA tournament seed. Yet the back-to-back conference losses put a severe dent in Texas Tech’s chances at a conference title, giving Kansas the upper hand once again. The Jayhawks are now back in control of their shot at a 15th-straight Big 12 championship.
Mid-Major Thumbs Up
A mid-major team outside the top 25 that nonetheless deserves praise for its week:
South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits suited up just once this week, defeating North Dakota 78–74, but that shouldn’t keep us from talking about Mike Daum, one of the most dominant offensive forces in college hoops. Daum decimated North Dakota with 37 points and 20 boards, notching his 12th double double of the season. The 6'9" senior has been named Summit League Player of the Year each of the past two seasons and led South Dakota State to the NCAA tournament in each of the last three seasons. The Jackrabbits are on track for another Summit title this season, likely to earn a fourth shot at notching a tournament win before Daum leaves Brookings.
Top 25 Power Rankings
Last Week (2): beat Arkansas, beat Alabama
Up Next: at Vanderbilt, vs. West Virginia
Last Week (1): lost to Syracuse, beat Virginia
Up Next: at Pittsburgh, vs. Georgia Tech
Last Week (4): beat Virginia Tech, lost to Duke
Up Next: vs. Wake Forest, at Notre Dame
Last Week (3): lost to Wisconsin
Up Next: vs. Minnesota, at Indiana
Last Week (5): beat Loyola Marymount, beat Portland
Up Next: at Santa Clara
Michigan State (16–2)
Last Week (6): beat Nebraska
Up Next: vs. Maryland, at Iowa
Last Week (10): beat Boise State, beat Air Force
Up Next: vs. Colorado State
Last Week (12): beat Georgia, beat Auburn
Up Next: vs. Mississippi State, vs. Kansas
Last Week (7): beat Texas, lost to West Virginia
Up Next: vs. Iowa State, at Kentucky
Virginia Tech (15–2)
Last Week (9): lost to Virginia, beat Wake Forest
Up Next: at North Carolina, vs. Syracuse
Last Week (13): beat Georgetown, beat Providence
Up Next: vs. DePaul, at Xavier
North Carolina (14–4)
Last Week (16): beat Notre Dame, beat Miami
Up Next: vs. Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech
Last Week (20): beat Wisconsin, beat Ohio State
Up Next: at Michigan State, vs. Illinois
Last Week (17): beat Western Michigan, beat Eastern Michigan
Up Next: at Northern Illinois, at Kent State
Texas Tech (15–3)
Last Week (8): lost to Iowa State, lost to Baylor
Up Next: at Kansas State, vs. Arkansas
Last Week (15): beat Texas A&M, lost to Kentucky
Up Next: at South Carolina, at Mississippi State
Mississippi State (14–3)
Last Week (19): beat Florida, beat Vanderbilt
Up Next: at Kentucky, vs. Auburn
Last Week (21): beat Xavier
Up Next: at Butler, vs. Seton Hall
Iowa State (14–4)
Last Week (NR): beat Texas Tech, beat Oklahoma State
Up Next: at Kansas, at Ole Miss
Last Week (22): beat SMU, beat South Florida
Up Next: vs. East Carolina, at Tulsa
Last Week (NR): beat Ole Miss, beat South Carolina
Up Next: vs. Georgia, at Missouri
NC State (15–3)
Last Week (18): lost to Wake Forest, beat Notre Dame
Up Next: at Louisville, vs. Clemson
Last Week (24): beat Boston College, beat Georgia Tech
Up Next: vs. NC State, vs. Pittsburgh
Last Week (NR): beat Rutgers, beat Indiana
Up Next: at Ohio State, vs. Michigan State
Last Week (23): beat Penn State, beat Illinois
Up Next: vs. Michigan State, at Minnesota
Dropped Out: Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida State.
Next Man Up: Ole Miss, Washington, Indiana.