Through a week and a half of the college basketball season, no one has a more impressive résumé than Arizona. Well, it's not exactly a résumé considering the Wildcats have played just three games. It's basically just a sheet of paper with one bullet point in bold, ALL CAPS, using a 48-point font. And what it says, jumps off the page.
Arizona won on the road last week against a Duke team that ranks among the highest nationally in minutes continuity after going undefeated at home last season. When college basketball's regular season winds to a close in early March, on Friday may still stand as the best in the sport.
Duke bounced back with a neutral-site win over Michigan State in the Champions Classic, which helped validate the fact that the Blue Devils are indeed a good team. Last Friday, Arizona was simply better as the Wildcats looked thoroughly undaunted by the hostile atmosphere even as a couple of true freshmen played extended minutes off the bench in the first road action of their college careers.
Because of that win, Arizona debuts at No. 1 in this season's power rankings. Power rankings are not a prediction of what's to come, and they seek to minimize the influence of history. This is a snapshot ranking of where things stand right now -- in the moment -- based on what's been accomplished on the court in college basketball this season.
That's why Gonzaga, Kentucky, Texas, North Carolina and others you'll find in most college basketball rankings aren't here yet. It's why UConn, Alabama and Houston fans will be offended by the placement of their teams. As the data and results roll in, adjustments will be made accordingly each week.
For now, here's the first batch of college basketball power rankings for the 2023-24 season.
College basketball power rankings
|There is no more impressive victory in college basketball through a week and a half than the win Arizona earned at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke on Friday. The Wildcats handed Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer his first home loss and did so in impressively balanced fashion. All five starters reached double figures, and the Wildcats got 16 big points from a trio of bench options playing their first big-time game in Arizona uniforms. The Wildcats (3-0) may win the Pac-12 by multiple games in the final season before the league as we know it breaks apart.
|Kansas withstood a wild offensive barrage from Kentucky and outscored the Wildcats 48-36 in the second half for an 89-84 win in the Champions Classic on Tuesday. The 3-0 Jayhawks will need more from their bench and can't bank on getting 23 points from Dajuan Harris every night. But KU showed a lot of poise under pressure and validated the preseason hype by passing a significant early test.
|Marquette handled business in a hostile environment Tuesday, taking out Illinois 71-64 behind 39 points from the starting backcourt of Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones. The Golden Eagles (3-0) also obliterated Northern Illinois and Rider in their opening two games while picking up where they left off as Big East regular season and tournament champions.
|Tennessee waltzed into the Kohl Center on Friday and dropped 80 points on a Wisconsin team which didn't surrender 80 points in a single non-overtime game last season. Maybe the Badgers aren't very good — they lost at Providence on Tuesday — but the Volunteers (3-0) look much better offensively thanks to Northern Colorado transfer Dalton Knecht.
|It flew under the radar last Friday night but Texas A&M handled business with a 73-66 win at Ohio State despite making just 3-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc. The Aggies (3-0) turned the ball over just five times. When you win on the road in November against a Big Ten team while shooting so poorly from the outside, it's a great sign.
|Ja'Kobe Walter is the freshman you need to be watching this month. Baylor's 6-foot-5 guard began his career with 28 points in an 88-82 neutral-site win over a talented Auburn team and has reached double figures three times in the Bears' 4-0 start. Walter is one of three new starters in Baylor's backcourt, and the group is performing impressively well.
|Reminder: this isn't about what teams accomplished last season or a prediction of what's to come this season. It's a snapshot of what's been demonstrated on the 94 feet between the baselines in the wee stages of the 2023-24 season. For 3-0 BYU, that includes a 74-65 victory against a San Diego State team that brought several key players back from a Final Four run.
|Memphis trailed Missouri 29-15 in the first half in Friday's road game without suspended coach Penny Hardaway. It outscored Mizzou 55-26 from there for an early statement road win against a team that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. The 2-0 Tigers are big, old and apparently teeming with chemistry, despite ranking 332nd in minutes continuity at KenPom.com.
|Creighton (3-0) is up to its old tricks early, averaging over 90 points per game. The BlueJays outran Iowa 92-84 for a nice early win on Tuesday behind 23 points from Trey Alexander, who finished one assist shy of a triple-double. This program has turned into a machine under 14th-year coach Greg McDermott.
|Purdue beat Xavier 83-71 Monday while keeping the Musketeers at arm's length all game. Everyone knows about 7-4 star Zach Edey, but they don't know how to stop him. He finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks against Xavier to send the 3-0 Boilermakers into the Maui Invitational with a nice win under their belt.
|Duke lost at home to Arizona, but the Blue Devils followed up with a 74-65 win over Michigan State on a neutral court Tuesday in the Champions Classic. You can't knock Jon Scheyer's club too much for the aggressive early scheduling, and there are signs (see Caleb Foster's outside shooting) that suggest the 2-1 Blue Devils can build off last season's ACC Tournament title in Scheyer's second season on the bench.
|The extended injury-related absence of star center Tolu Smith will make sustaining the early momentum a challenge. But the 3-0 Bulldogs are red hot early after picking up one of opening week's better wins in a 71-56 drubbing of Arizona State. The Sun Devils were an NCAA Tournament team last season but shot just 32.1% against Mississippi State's stifling defense.
|Virginia had to sweat it out, but it earned its way into the power rankings with a 73-70 neutral-site win over Florida on Friday. The Cavaliers (3-0) have won their other two games against lesser foes by 30 and 29 points, respectively, and appear to have recovered just fine from the loss of their three leading scorers.
|With three-double digit victories, including an 89-73 win at St. John's, Michigan (3-0) is a pleasant early surprise. This team lost a pair of top-15 NBA Draft picks in Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin and saw three-time all-Big Ten center Hunter Dickinson transfer to Kansas. But the start suggests this team will nonetheless compete for an NCAA Tournament bid.
|To say UConn hasn't played anyone is putting it mildly. But the 3-0 Huskies have been authoritatively dominant against three overmatched foes. If the reigning national champions win the Empire Classic — beginning with a showdown against Indiana on Sunday — they'll make a huge jump next week.
|Houston (3-0) owns three blowout victories against cupcake opposition, and this week's Charleston Classic field isn't the toughest. You can't blame the Cougars for going a bit light on the nonconference slate during the transition from the AAC to the Big 12, but it may take a while for this group to truly validate its No. 6 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll.
|Alabama (3-0) surpassed 100 points in each of its first three games as the Crimson Tide torched Morehead State, Indiana State and South Alabama. Though the competition has been laughable, they earn a spot in the power rankings because of the impressive offensive displays.
|James Madison beat Michigan State on the road to begin the season and followed up with a road win over one of the MAC's top teams, Kent State. Few teams in college basketball have two more impressive victories than the 3-0 Dukes, who were picked to win the Sun Belt.
|Nevada's 3-0 start includes a road win over Washington. The Wolf Pack never trailed in that contest while asserting their will against a Pac-12 program. Coach Steve Alford's group also has double-digit wins against Sacramento State and Pacific on its resume.
|The Kim English era of Providence basketball is off to a strong beginning as the 3-0 Friars have notched three double-digit victories, including Tuesday's 72-59 win over Wisconsin. Providence shot a ridiculous 58.5% from the field in that game, so we'll see how sustainable the fast start is.