College Basketball Power Rankings: Surging Baylor Takes Top Spot

As a college basketball season of twists and turns rolls on, where do things in our power rankings stand?
Publish date:

The 2019-20 college basketball season has taken more turns this week, with Duke, Kentucky and Auburn all losing as AP top-10 teams to unranked opponents and Big Ten arenas continuing to serve as a house of horrors to all conference foes who enter. After the latest results, we attempt to separate who stands where in this week's Top 25 power rankings:

1. Baylor (14-1)

In earning the program's first-ever road win at Kansas last Saturday, the Bears added a marquee piece to their résumé and got the push they needed to land No. 1 here. Baylor hasn't lost since Nov. 8 (to Washington) and could have been undefeated right now were it not for a late-game collapse in that one. In four conference games, Big 12 opponents have yet to score more than 55 points on the Bears.

2. Gonzaga (18-1)

After a shaky start to WCC play, the Zags looked better in two recent road wins, but the real test awaits on Saturday against BYU in Spokane. The Cougars, along with Saint Mary's, are the only real threats to Gonzaga in conference play. With BYU star Yoeli Childs likely sidelined this weekend, it's a game Mark Few's team can't afford to lose at home.

3. Kansas (13-3)

The Jayhawks lead the nation with seven Quadrant 1 wins, and have faced the country's toughest schedule according to KenPom. Despite the home loss to Baylor last weekend, Kansas was able to bounce back to beat Oklahoma in Norman by double digits despite not having star point guard Devon Dotson available.

4. San Diego State (18-0)

The Aztecs are the lone unbeaten team in the country remaining after Auburn suffered its first loss on Wednesday night. Few would have pegged SDSU to outlast everyone, but a rebooted roster marked by key transfers like Malachi Flynn is getting the job done for coach Brian Dutcher—and could make a real run at finishing the regular season unscathed.

5. Duke (15-2)

The Blue Devils suffered their first setback since Stephen F. Austin this week, falling to Clemson on the road sans Joey Baker and Wendell Moore. Short-handed Duke struggled to defend the Tigers' four-guard attack in the loss—which could provide a blueprint to future opponents—but did continue its hot three-point shooting of late.

6. West Virginia (14-2)

The resurgence of the Mountaineers probably isn't getting as much attention as it should. Bob Huggins's team is now up to No. 4 on KenPom and No. 8 on the NCAA NET rankings after a Tuesday night thrashing of TCU, and its tough, physical defense is a challenge for any opponent to crack. The emergence of freshman guard Miles McBride on offense is making a difference for an otherwise frontcourt-led group, as well. 

7. Butler (15-2)

The Bulldogs were dealt their second loss of the season on Wednesday night at home against Seton Hall, but remain major players in the Big East and on the national stage. Butler gave up more than 1.0 points per possession for only the second time this season in the loss to the Pirates and couldn't overcome a largely cold shooting night from the perimeter.

8. Oregon (14-3)

The Ducks went 2-0 at home against the Arizona schools before heading north for clashes with Wazzu and Washington. After shooting just 27.8% from three as a freshman, sophomore Will Richardson has made half (51.3%) of his 39 attempts this season, while becoming much improved at the free-throw line as well. While such a jump should always come with caution—especially in such a small sample size—his perimeter success has been a boon to a team that's seventh nationally overall from three (39.4%).

9. Florida State (15-2)

Leonard Hamilton's team was once again overlooked in the preseason and is once again shining behind an athletic, balanced roster built on defense. The Seminoles probably have more of a right than anyone to be upset about the ACC's opening-night conference games, as that narrow road loss to Pitt is one FSU would like to have another crack at. At 5-1, though, Florida State is still tied atop the ACC and will have every chance to prove it's the best of the league down the stretch.

10. Seton Hall (13-4)

As we wrote in this week's Stock Report, the Pirates have been soaring ever since their short-handed upset win over Maryland in December and are now 5-0 in Big East play after knocking off AP No. 5 Butler on the road on Wednesday night. You'd be hard-pressed to find many more teams in the country playing as well as Seton Hall right now, and Kevin Willard's team has all the makings of one that can go deep in March: experience, a strong defense and a bonafide offensive star in Myles Powell. Oh, and they've been doing it all without sharpshooter Sandro Mamukelashvili, who's been sidelined since early December with a broken wrist.

11. Auburn (15-1)

The Tigers finally dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten with a road loss to Alabama on Wednesday night, in only their second Quadrant 1 game all season. Auburn is now 1-1 in Quad 1 games, a reflection of that fact that despite its gaudy record, its résumé isn't as strong as many others' with similar ones. Still, the no-doubt talented Tigers will have more opportunities ahead to improve that, starting with a road tilt at Florida on Saturday.

12. Villanova (13-3)

The Wildcats survived an overtime battle with DePaul on Wednesday night to move to 4-1 in Big East play, and now get AAC foe UConn at home this weekend. In a win over Georgetown last season, Villanova showed its ability to get hot from deep, draining 15 of 29 three-point attempts to break out of a four-game slump from the perimeter.

13. Dayton (15-2)

The Flyers turned on the jets in the second half of a win over VCU this week, getting 24 points from star Obi Toppin. Dayton continues to lead the country in effective field goal percentage and two-point percentage, and is staunch from three as well (37.3%), a big reason why its formidable offense so tough for opponents to stop.

14. Louisville (14-3)

The Cardinals were lucky to escape Pittsburgh with an overtime win, and now face a crucial road battle with Duke in Durham on Saturday. Louisville still needs more out of its point guard spot between Darius Perry and Lamarr Kimble, and someone to take pressure off star Jordan Nwora when he has an off night. With no return visit from Duke on the schedule, this is one of the Cardinals' only remaining shots at another signature win in the regular season.

15. Michigan State (13-4)

Purdue shattered the Spartans' eight-game win streak with a blowout last weekend, and Tom Izzo's team has had four long days to think about it before hosting Wisconsin on Friday night. While the wheels fell off in West Lafayette, things had been trending upward for Michigan State, with Cassius Winston looking like his old self offensively and Xavier Tillman being a force down low. 

16. Maryland (13-4)

The Terps squandered a golden opportunity to earn their first road win by blowing a late-game situation at Wisconsin on Tuesday, and are in big danger of losing a chance at a coveted top-three NCAA tournament seed if they don't start finding a way to win away from the Xfinity Center. If there's positive news of late, it's the strides shown by big man Jalen Smith, who may be developing into a legitimate perimeter threat.

17. Wichita State (15-2)

Like Butler, the Shockers dropped their second game of the season on Wednesday night; for Wichita State, it came on the road to Temple. The Shockers struggled with the Owls' physical defense, with two starters being held scoreless and the team shooting ice cold from three. After needing two overtimes to escape UConn on the road on Sunday, however, a midweek letdown is explainable.

18. Kentucky (12-4)

A record of 12-4 is perfectly fine at this juncture of the season, but when three of those losses are to sub-100 teams on KenPom (Evansville, Utah and, now, South Carolina, which knocked off the Wildcats on a buzzer beater on Wednesday), it's a little more concerning. Kentucky has one of the country's lowest three-point rates, but also only takes about a third of its shots at the rim, which ranks 248th nationally), despite having the 11th-best shooting percentage there, per Hoop-Math.

19. Wisconsin (11-6)

The Badgers have gone from very much looking like they would take a step back this season to getting hot, winning six of their last seven games. Yes, they have six losses to date, but only one has come since mid-December, with wins over Tennessee, Ohio State, Maryland and Penn State all coming after—and three of those were on the road. Big man transfer Micah Potter, who wasn't eligible until after the fall semester, looks like an extremely valuable piece for Greg Gard, with the ability to shoot the three, alter shots and rebound.

20. Colorado (13-3)

The Buffaloes' wins over Dayton and Oregon this season showed their preseason hype was for real, but their next challenge is to do it on the road. After opening up Pac-12 play with three home games (in which Colorado went 2-1), a pair of critical tests in the desert await now, with a trip to Arizona State on Thursday night before meeting a desperate Arizona team in Tuscon on Saturday. After notching just three road wins in conference play last year, it's an area that the Buffs must improve on.

21. Ohio State

The Buckeyes are hanging on solely for what they did in the season's first month and a half, before things went south. They snapped a four-game losing streak at home against Nebraska on Tuesday despite guards Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad being suspended for "a failure to meet program standards and expectations," and given the roller-coaster ride for Ohio State this season, that's a situation to watch.

22. Illinois (12-5)

The Big Ten is a jumbled mess of teams right now, which is reflected in the back end of these power rankings. Since losing at Michigan State, the Illini have won three straight, over Purdue, Wisconsin and Rutgers, providing a much-needed boost to their résumé and even returning to the AP poll for the first time since 2014. With a home game vs. Northwestern up next on Saturday, Illinois could be riding high heading into a critical stretch that includes three of four games on the road.

23. Michigan (11-5)

Juwan Howard's team has hit a bit of a rough patch, with a double-overtime win over Purdue being Michigan's only real victory of note since early December. The Wolverines are still adjusting to the loss of Isaiah Livers, who has missed four games with a groin injury, and have struggled defensively, with three straight opponents posting a 30-point scorer.

24. Iowa

The road loss to Nebraska last week still stings, but the Hawkeyes' 18-point home win over Maryland in a bounce-back effort brought them back some goodwill. And in more good news, banged-up Iowa got freshman sharpshooter CJ Fredrick back this week in a win over Northwestern.

25. Rutgers (13-4)

Are you ready to talk to your kids about Rutgers basketball? The Scarlet Knights have made the leap this year, with four top-40 KenPom wins already in their pocket, and are all the way up to No. 22 on the NET rankings. The RAC has become a serious home-court advantage, and behind a hard-nose defense, Rutgers has a realistic shot at getting to its first NCAA tournament since 1991—by far the longest current drought for any power conference team.