College basketball seemed a lot less volatile in the last week, leading to perhaps the least movement in SI's power rankings all season. Still, there was plenty to glean from the top 25's latest performances, especially as the season approaches February this weekend.
1. Baylor (18-1)
In a season that has tied a record for the most number of teams at AP No. 1, the Bears are doing everything they can to stick around a while. They made sure they weren't a one-hit wonder by winning a tricky game at Florida over the weekend, one in which Vegas had the Gators favored. Instead, Baylor led by as many as 19 behind its best offensive performance of 2020. Senior Devonte Bandoo is making a push as a valuable shooting spark off the bench, making 10 of his last 16 threes and averaging 12.3 points in his last four games.
2. Gonzaga (21-1)
The Zags rolled to another blowout win last week, so let's do something different: Did you know that the two most effective half-court offenses in the country reside in the WCC? Gonzaga's 1.03 points per possession checks in right behind rival Saint Mary's, and its nontransition effective field goal percentage of 57.2% (Hoop-Math) ranks third nationally. On top of that, 11.8% of all Zags half-court possessions this season have seen a player get fouled in the act of shooting, higher than any team but South Alabama (11.9%), per Synergy Sports. The Bulldogs are an offensive juggernaut because they can shoot the ball inside and out and get to the line when they need to (though they're not a strong team at the charity stripe, particularly when it comes to the big man duo of Filip Petrusev and Drew Timme).
3. Kansas (17-3)
Bill Self switched to a new starting lineup for Monday's game at Oklahoma State—Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun and Udoka Azubuike. It's no secret that the Jayhawks' best lineups go with one traditional big man (namely: Azubuike) vs. two, but the insertion of the emerging Braun as a starter prompted me to check Hoop Lens to see how those five have done while on the court together (let's call it 'Lineup X') this season as compared with other lineup combinations. The result is staggering:
|LINEUP X OFFENSE||OFFENSE OTHER LINEUPS||LINEUP X DEFENSE||DEFENSE OTHER LINEUPS|
Points Per Possession
Free Throw Rate
That's a combined difference of 0.36 PPP, which is massive. On the season, this lineup has been used less than 8% of the time on both offense and defense, but Self has begun to employ it regularly. In the last three games, it was used on 43% of offensive possessions and 41% of defensive ones, to strong results.
4. San Diego State (22-0)
After two more road wins, including a 28-point shellacking of a short-handed New Mexico team, the Aztecs stand just seven games away from a perfect regular season. Owning the No. 1 NET ranking, there's a real possibility of SDSU getting a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, though since the Aztecs don't have same level of résumé-building opportunities remaining as many of their power-conference peers, perfection and a Mountain West tournament title may be required to get on the top line.
5. Seton Hall (16-4)
The Pirates continue to pace the Big East after home wins over Providence and DePaul ran their win streak to 10. Amazingly, this team is just now getting Sandro Mamukelashvili back, who was Seton Hall's second-leading scorer when he broke his wrist in December. Working the 6'11" Mamukelashvili back into the mix will be an important adjustment for the Pirates, who are hoping the 41.7% he was shooting from three before his injury (after shooting just 30.1% last season) wasn't a fluke. Regardless, it's even more size for a team that already boasts two 7-footers on the interior.
6. Louisville (18-3)
Back-to-back games with at least 80 points have the Cardinals' offense ticking up. Louisville has shot at least 40% from three in seven of its last eight games, helping it sit at 10th nationally and first in ACC play. On the flip side, though, the Cards' 45.8% two-point shooting in conference play ranks 14th in the league, ahead of only Pitt.
7. Villanova (17-3)
Collin Gillespie's breakout junior season feels like an underrated storyline, and the point guard is drawing comparisons to former Villanova great Ryan Arcidiacono of late. Gillespie had a combined 35 points, 21 rebounds, 11 assists, five steals and just two turnovers in the Wildcats' back-to-back road wins over Providence and St. John's, and he boasts the Big East's best offensive rating in conference play. While his shooting numbers are largely steady from last season, he's more-than adapted to his larger role as the primary ball-handler, and it's making a difference for 'Nova.
8. Dayton (19-2)
Obi Toppin gets all the buzz for the Flyers, and with good reason as a National Player of the Year candidate, but don't overlook Jalen Crutcher. The junior is putting a heck of a season together in his own right and has been on fire of late. Look at this combined line from his last three games, two of which were on the road: an average of 21.7 points on 10-of-12 shooting from two and 13-of-22 shooting from three, plus 20 assists with only three turnovers.
9. Duke (17-3)
Vernon Carey played a season-high 35 minutes in the Blue Devils' win over Pitt, dropping 26 points with 13 rebounds, four assists and a block. The talented freshman big man draws more fouls per 40 minutes than all but three players nationally, but shoots only 59.4% at the charity stripe—a number that has gone down to 55.8% in ACC play.
10. Florida State (17-3)
The Seminoles' 10-game winning streak was snapped at Virginia on Tuesday, which was probably only a matter of time after multiple close calls. Florida State's 17-2 record before that loss was probably a bit inflated—the team is 18th in the NET, 19th on KenPom and 28th on T-Rank, but still controls its own destiny in the ACC. Saturday's trip to Virginia Tech will be an interesting bounce-back test, especially since the Hokies are in must-win mode.
11. Oregon (17-4)
Chris Duarte went on a personal tear against the Pac-12's Los Angeles-area schools last week, scoring 30 in an overtime win over USC before adding 24 against UCLA. Perhaps even more impressively, he totaled 14 steals in the two games and had just one turnover. Duarte, who now has 21 steals in his last four games, had just 14 total in the first 16 games of the season combined.
The Terps' road win over Indiana was a real roller coaster, with Maryland leading by as many as 14 points, then falling behind by as many as eight before rallying late for a one-point win. Jalen Smith is the story, as the big man posted back-to-back career high scoring outputs last week—first 25 vs. Northwestern, then 29 against the Hoosiers. In Big Ten play, he's leading the conference in three-point shooting (56.7%), offensive rating (131.0) and effective shooting percentage (68.3%), and has helped rescue a Maryland offense that has at times been lackluster. As players around him like Aaron Wiggins show signs of positive shooting regression, it's a reminder that the Terrapins could get a lot more dangerous.
13. Michigan State (16-5)
The Spartans played three times since our last power rankings, losing on the road at Indiana before cruising at Minnesota and vs. Northwestern. According to KenPom's rankings, Michigan State has played the easiest Big Ten schedule so far, and things are about to get tougher. The Spartans will catch a break at Wisconsin on Saturday, though, as second-leading scorer Kobe King just left the program and Brad Davison is suspended for the game.
14. Kentucky (16-4)
The Wildcats' seven-point halftime deficit at home Wednesday against a Vanderbilt team that has lost 25 straight SEC games eventually became a nine-point win, but it did once again raise questions around UK's consistency. This is a team that has had three "bad" losses: to Evansville, Utah and South Carolina, and its inability to blow teams out has seen Kentucky fall to No. 32 on KenPom. A win is a win, of course, but expect to see John Calipari's team respond better on the road at Auburn this weekend.
15. West Virginia (16-4)
For the second time in four games, the Mountaineers' vaunted defense got torched by an offense outside the KenPom top 70. On Wednesday night it was Texas Tech doing the honors, perhaps exorcising the bitterness of its previous overtime loss to Kentucky. WVU ranks fourth nationally in three-point defense, but the Red Raiders went 11 for 17 in their win. The impact a team has on opponents' three-point shooting is overrated, but it does raise an interesting question. On Dribble Handoff's Shot Quality measurement, the Mountaineers rank 38th in defensive shot quality, but first in defensive effective field goal percentage. This suggests they've been getting a bit of luck with opponents missing shots, and in Lubbock, the reverse happened.
16. Butler (17-4)
After gutting out an overtime win over Marquette to end a three-game losing skid last week, the Bulldogs beat Georgetown on the road on Sunday to stay in the mix in the Big East race, albeit three games behind Seton Hall. Butler's home game against Villanova on Wednesday is a big one, though first it welcomes Providence on Saturday. With four of their next five games at home, this is the time for the Bulldogs to make their move.
17. Illinois (15-5)
Could the Illini win the Big Ten? They're in great shape to make a run at the title—something they haven't earned since 2004-05—after starting conference play 7-2, with three of those wins coming on the road. According to KenPom rankings, Illinois has played the fourth-toughest league schedule so far, and it's set up well for its final 11 games. In games against the four teams closest to them in the standings, the Illini get Maryland and Michigan State at home, play Iowa both at home and on the road and travel to Rutgers.
18. Iowa (15-5)
The Hawkeyes have won five straight after storming back to beat Wisconsin on Monday and have two more tough games left (at Maryland, vs. Illinois) in a three-game week. Iowa has gotten some valuable contributions from a pair of freshman guards of late: Joe Toussaint and CJ Frederick, who can critically help take some of the offensive load off Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp.
19. Auburn (18-2)
The Tigers rallied back from 19 down to win on the road at Ole Miss on Tuesday night, an important victory for a team that needs to build its thin résumé, not actively harm it. A big opportunity will come to Auburn Arena on Saturday in the form of the Kentucky Wildcats, a chance for the Tigers to earn their first signature win of the season. Auburn could really benefit if it gets going from the perimeter; despite having the nation's 56th-best three-point rate, it's shooting just 31.4% from three, which ranks 264th.
20. Penn State (15-5)
The Nittany Lions got a big win for their NCAA tournament chances on Wednesday night, trouncing Indiana by 25 at home. Penn State's stingy defense made life hell for the Hoosiers offensively, recording a whopping 15 steals and holding IU to 0.70 PPP and 33.3% shooting from the floor.
21. Houston (17-4)
Another team that played three times in the last week, the Cougars picked up wins over UConn, South Florida and East Carolina, and have now held five straight opponents under 1.0 PPP. The Cougars' defensive improvements have been key given that their shooting has taken a dip both inside and out during AAC play, and a big road trip to Cincinnati awaits on Saturday.
22. LSU (16-4)
After an improbable run of narrow wins, the Tigers finally won comfortably against a tricky Alabama team on Wednesday night. It was a typical LSU offensive performance—a terrific effort inside the arc to make up for poor perimeter shooting, plus lots of offensive rebounds—but was also a decent defensive effort against a Tide team that had won four straight.
23. Wichita State (17-3)
The Shockers remain in the AAC race despite the fact they're shooting a brutal 39.9% on two-pointers in conference play, which ranks dead last. Wichita does, however, do a great job of getting to the free throw line, and attempted a whopping 42 (but only made 29) in Saturday's win over UCF. Given this team's struggles inside the arc, it needs to do better than its 69.1% team free throw shooting percentage, which ranks 221st nationally.
24. Rutgers (16-5)
Despite getting unexpectedly pushed by lowly Nebraska, the Scarlet Knights went 2-0 at home in the last week, including a win over Purdue. Rutgers will meet a Michigan team in desperate need of solid wins at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. It should be an excellent test for the Scarlet Knights, who aren't used to having a target on their back.
25. Texas Tech (13-7)
The Red Raiders shredded West Virginia's staunch defense to the tune of 89 points (1.19 per possession) on Wednesday night. They were buoyed by a scorching 11-for-17 mark from three and more than 20 points apiece by Jahmi'us Ramsey, Davide Moretti and Terrence Shannon. Shannon is someone who has shown flashes of star potential at times this season, and the freshman missed Tech's previous loss to WVU in Morgantown. The Red Raiders now have two top-10 NET and KenPom wins, over the Mountaineers and Louisville, which is important given that their current résumé lacks quality depth.
Dropped Out: Wisconsin