College basketball is back! It is never too early to catch up on the rankings and where the field would fall if the bracket was unveiled today.
1. Baylor (9-0)
This year, the number one ranking in the AP Top 25 has been a death curse. Baylor hopes to buck the trend and remain on top for more than one week. While they are an easy choice for the number one ranking, it was much closer in my power rankings. While Gonzaga has a couple of losses, they are still right there with Baylor for the top spot.
The Bears’ ability to maintain their level of play after losing their top three players is remarkable. It is no longer a question for me; Scott Drew is the best coach in college basketball. Baylor’s game at Iowa State on New Year’s Day should be the next real test for the Bears.
2. Gonzaga (8-2)
While the Bulldogs have already lost twice, it was against two teams that should be top four seeds come tournament time. This team is taking a little while to gel, but the talent is undeniable. The duo of Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme will give opposing coaches headaches.
Don’t be surprised if Gonzaga is on top of the power rankings sooner rather than later.
3. Houston (9-2)
The Cougars played in the game of the year so far, in my opinion, when they traveled to Alabama. Houston lost the contest 83-82, but it was an exciting 40 minutes of basketball.
Currently, the Cougars are ranked in the top ten in efficiency on both offense and defense. They are the only team besides Baylor that is top ten in both. Kelvin’s Sampson team defends and rebounds with tenacity, making them a tough team to beat night in and night out.
4. Kansas (8-1)
It is tough to get a read on this Jayhawks team as they have played a relatively easy schedule after their opening night win against Michigan State. Kansas needs to improve on the defensive end if they want to have a chance at winning it all.
The Jayhawks are ranked third in offensive efficiency, but 29th on defense. Ochai Agbaji is making a run for National Player of the Year and is currently shooting 49.1% behind the arc.
5. Arizona (9-0)
Tommy Lloyd is showing he was ready to step out of Mark Few’s shadow and run his own program. The Wildcats are playing well on both ends of the floor and are currently third in the nation in tempo.
The road win at Illinois proved that this Arizona team is for real. If it weren’t for Chet Holmgren, Azuolas Tubelis would be getting more hype as the best freshman in the nation. This Wildcats team could be good for a while as they are one of the youngest teams in the country.
6. Purdue (9-1)
The Boilermakers dropped in the rankings after a bad loss at Rutgers. In Purdue’s defense, the ARC is a tough place to play and Rutgers, although not as good as last year, still has quality players.
It should be an easy few games before the Boilermakers get back into Big Ten play with a home contest against Wisconsin. Trevion Williams has made himself into one of the best rebounders in college basketball.
7. Villanova (7-3)
This pick will create some controversy as the Wildcats have already lost three games and looked bad against Baylor. The Bears defense will do that to a lot of teams, and Villanova had a tough night. All three losses were against top ten Kenpom teams (UCLA, Purdue, and Baylor).
The Wildcats experienced backcourt takes excellent care of the basketball, and their overall height helps offset having a standout big man. Look for Villanova to continue to get better as the season goes.
8. LSU (10-0)
I keep hesitating to move the Tigers up the rankings but see no choice at this point. While they don’t have a huge win on the resume, they have quality victories over Belmont, Wake Forest, and Penn State.
Will Wade has LSU playing tremendous defense. They are currently ranked third in defensive efficiency. We will learn how good LSU is when they take on the next team in the rankings on Wednesday, December 29th.
9. Auburn (9-1)
The only blemish for the Tigers is a neutral court loss to Connecticut. They bounced back to beat an outstanding Loyola Chicago team the very next day. Bruce Pearl has Auburn playing well on both ends, ranking 14th on defense and 17th on offense.
The Tigers should be on upset alert in their next two games as they take on quality mid-majors in St. Louis and Murray State. Freshman Jabari Smith is worth watching over the holidays if you get a chance.
10. Duke (8-1)
Another one of the impressive class of freshmen is Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero. Banchero might end up being the best NBA player of the bunch. Duke has one of the best wins of the season against Gonzaga.
Their only loss is against a very good Ohio State team. This Duke team has the players to make a magical run in Coach K’s last season.
NCAA Men’s Basketball Power Rankings #11-25
- Loyola Chicago
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
- Colorado State
- Texas Tech
- Iowa State
- Seton Hall
NCAA Men’s Basketball Bracketology
Keep in mind where the power rankings are more about how good I think teams are; bracketology is putting them where I think the committee would have them if the season ended today.
- 1 Seeds
Baylor, Arizona, Purdue, Gonzaga
- 2 Seeds
Alabama, Kansas, Houston, LSU
- 3 Seeds
Villanova, Auburn, Duke, Iowa State
- 4 Seeds
Michigan State, UCLA, Ohio State, USC
- 5 Seeds
Xavier, Seton Hall, Wisconsin, Colorado State
- 6 Seeds
Loyola Chicago, San Francisco, UConn, Texas Tech
- 7 Seeds
Providence, Texas, Michigan, Colorado State
- 8 Seeds
Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, DePaul
- 9 Seeds
BYU, St. Mary’s, Wake Forest, Illinois
- 10 Seeds
BYU, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa
- 11 Seeds
West Virginia, Belmont, Arkansas, Louisville
- 12 Seeds
Utah State/Wyoming, Florida/Northwestern, Buffalo, UAB
- 13 Seeds
New Mexico State, Iona, Chattanooga, South Dakota State
- 14 Seeds
Towson, Weber State, Georgia State, UC Irvine
- 15 Seeds
Princeton, Navy, Vermont, Oakland
- 16 Seeds
Howard, Nicholls State, Texas Southern, Wagner, Campbell, Liberty
- First Four Out: Memphis, Murray State, Virginia Tech, St. Bonaventure
- Next Four Out: Mississippi State, TCU, St. John’s, UCF