It was a packed Wednesday night. Ten of the 19 teams ranked below were in action, most of them opting to win, which didn't make things as easy as I thought it would.
But with the teams at the top continuing to win, most of them convincingly game after game, it did make me stop and realize that we've hit a stride here in college hoops that has the best teams looking like they can be great. And that's not been the narrative in college hoops for the past three months.
But perhaps it's time for a change. Maybe the pundits and commentators need to take stock of a Baylor team that hasn't lost since early November. Maybe the analysts in this sport need to recognize how great Gonzaga -- 21-1 Gonzaga -- is on offense, robustly No. 1 in the sport. Or that San Diego State isn't just undefeated, it's ripping the spine out of just about everyone it plays. You've got Dayton, which could have the most efficient offense inside the 3-point line in history.
Keep that in mind as you scroll through the latest power rankings. We do have teams establishing themselves as elite within the context of this season.
| 🔄 Previous: No. 1 | The Bears made mincemeat of Iowa State on the road Wednesday to get to 18-1. Five of Baylor's last seven wins have come on the road. One thing I've found a little interesting is Baylor's diminishing use of the 1-3-1 zone. "We will throw in zone at times but it's been very spotty," Bears coach Scott Drew told me. "It all starts with being on the ball. Davion Mitchell is a great on-ball defender. Mark Vital's one of the best in the league. Freddie Gillespie's grown so much." |
|🔄 Previous: No. 2 | It's not often Gonzaga (21-1) plays on CBS Sports Network, but thanks to a new TV deal with the WCC, you'll see the best offense in college basketball at 10:30 p.m. ET Thursday on CBSSN against Santa Clara. Gonzaga is 43-2 in it last 45 games vs. the Broncos. What's more, Gonzaga's needed to win 18 of its last 19 road games against Santa Clara just to get 22-23 all-time in road games vs. SCU. Bet ya didn't know that.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 3 | I published a piece on San Diego State recently New Mexico on Wednesday. SDSU fans should demand, not hope for, at least a No. 2 seed and at least a Sweet 16 showing. Anything short of that, plus 30 wins at this point, is a disappointment.in the NCAA Tournament. History is on the side of the 22-0 Aztecs, who won by 28 at shorthanded|
|🔄 Previous: No. 4 | This week's Court Report led with the Flyers, now 19-2 after Wednesday's win at Duquesne. Anything I would put in this space this week is already touched upon in my story, . |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 6 | For the 12th time in the past 14 seasons, Kansas (17-3) has won six of its first seven league games. The Jayhawks remain No. 1 in most metrics. Because of this, Kansas fans wish I'd put KU higher. I'm getting there, Jayhawk backers. Problem is, the teams ranked above Kansas here have longer winning streaks and haven't been sloppy on the way to compiling those streaks. KU welcomes in Texas Tech on Saturday; the Red Raiders have just six wins in their history against Kansas but are 2-2 in their last four games, including a win at the Phog in 2018. |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 7 | For all I've been howling in the past 48 hours about Dayton's national-title credentials, the same can and should be said about Seton Hall. The Hall's win streak has hit 10 games, its longest since 1992-93, and at 16-4 this squad's almost back to full strength. Sandro Mamukelashvili returned on Wednesday, his first game since early December (right wrist). |
| ⤴️ Previous: No. 8 | The ACC-leading Cardinals are 9-1 in the league and 18-3 riding a seven-game winning streak. On Wednesday, Jordan Nwora had one of the best games of his career, putting up 37 points (he hit seven 3-pointers) plus nine rebounds. Nwora's 37 is a season-high by any ACC player this season. Cards play at a desperate NC State team Saturday.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 5 | Not too far of a slip for FSU. I respect the Noles and this 17-3 team is 10-1 in its last 11 games, the most recent being a five-point loss at Virginia. Leonard Hamilton's team split the season series with the Hoos. FSU gets four of its next six at home, so I expect it to remain within the top 10 of the Hey Nineteen into mid-February.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 9 | I think most are sleeping on Collin Gillespie's value. He ranks No. 1 in the Big East in offensive rating (122.1), second in foul-shot percentage (88.6%), fourth in assist rate (28.4), sixth in 3-point percentage (40.6%) and has the fourth-lowest turnover rate, giving it up only once per every 10 possessions he factors into. Nova's 17-3 with its next two vs. Creighton and at Butler. |
|🔄 Previous: No. 10 | The 17-4 Ducks staying static at No. 10 means six of the top 10 teams are in the same spot this week as they were a week ago -- that's double the previous high of this year's power rankings. Oregon needed double OT to win at home vs. USC, then had no problem with UCLA last Saturday. Payton Pritchard remains a top-five candidate for national player of the year at this point.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 11 | The 17-3 Blue Devils have won their past two games by a combined 42 points. Duke's offense ranks No. 5 in points per game (82.7) and in offensive efficiency (117.7). Vernon Carey Jr. was overshadowed once more, this time by Mike Krzyzewski scolding the Duke student section. But Carey had 26 points, 13 rebounds and four assists vs. Pitt. He's at once the obvious best freshman in America and also the most under-discussed great Duke freshman in eons.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 16 | This week's biggest jump is going to Will Wade's team, which is riding a nine-game winning streak and sits at 7-0 atop the SEC. The Bayou Bengals were 17-3 through 20 games last season and are just one game (16-4) off that pace this season, which is a surprise to almost everyone. A steady riser by the day in the NET, LSU's now got 10 Quad 1 and 2 victories and no bad losses.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 13 | The Spartans are tied in the loss column with Illinois (two apiece) in the Big Ten standings. Michigan State's swerve-filled road to 16-5 has been made possible by Xavier Tillman, who's turned himself into an NBA prospect and at this stage is playing like a top-20 player in the game. In fact, Tillman is the only player in college hoops averaging at least 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. His line through 20 games: 13.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.1 stuffs.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 18 | The 16-4 Terps move up a few spots thanks to Jalen Smith's increasingly undeniable dominance. The reigning Big Ten player of the week is coming off back-to-back games with career highs in points (25 against Northwestern, then 29 against Indiana). Both games were on the road. Both wins for Maryland. In his past four games, Smith is averaging 22.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and just 1.8 fouls in 36 minutes per. Dominant, reliable. I can't quit you, Maryland.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 15 | The Cougars broke into the Hey Nineteen last week and remain steady after going 2-0 in the previous seven days, the wins coming by 21 at home to South Florida and by 10 at East Carolina. Neither will get headlines, but this is a 17-4 team that is up to No. 23 in KenPom. It has one loss since Dec. 15.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 14 | This year's Auburn team is proof that winning streaks alone do not ensure your standing in these here power rankings (as it should be). The Tigers are still good, 18-2 and sitting third in the SEC (5-2, behind LSU and Kentucky). They've won three straight but did it the hard way. Bruce Pearl's team almost blew an 18-point lead before winning by four at home vs. Iowa State last Saturday. On Tuesday, it needed some help and double overtime to squeak out a one-point win at Ole Miss. And Bruce Pearl probably can't wear this suit again.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 17 | John Calipari's team is going to hold steady after winning in overtime at Texas Tech (this was a well-earned W) and then coming back from a double-digit home deficit against Vanderbilt (!) to win on Wednesday. The biggie comes Saturday, as 16-4 UK heads to play at Auburn. The Tigers get their first game against a ranked opponent this season, while Kentucky tries to improve to 4-1 on the road.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 12 | The Mountaineers (16-4) took a loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday falling behind in the first half and were always four to six paces behind for the remainder of the game. TTU was averaging 72.7 points heading into that game -- then it scored 89 on the third-ranked defense in college basketball. WVU allowed Davide Moretti to score a career-best 25, plus Jahmi'us Ramsey and Terrence Shannon combined for 44, and the trio made 10 of its 14 triples -- probably an aberrational game for WVU.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 19 | No way I'm dropping 15-5 Illinois after its only game since last week's power rankings published was a road win at slumping Michigan. Now, let's see how Illinois can handle playing with much more attention and a larger target on its proverbial back. Minnesota comes to town Thursday, then it's at Iowa on Sunday. Speaking of Iowa, the Hawkeyes for the second straight week just barely missed the cut here. All in all, I had 25 teams in the hopper under debate here. If anything, it looks like the top of the sport is getting more buff.|