We have less than a week to go until March arrives and the inconsistency across the top of the sport will not cease. Ranked teams are losing on a nightly basis (we've had more days of unranked teams beating ranked teams this season than any other, according to ESPN Stats & Information) and this feels like the bumpiest run through February I can remember.
Which is why you're about to read through a set of rankings that are so very unlike any other you'll find out there. As you'll see below, I post a reminder each week of exactly I'm doing with the Hey Nineteen. But there's some major shake-up here. Virginia lost at BC, Tennessee and Iowa State have lost four of five, Baylor's dropped two straight, Xavier's lost three of four, Indiana's lost two of three, and even a school like Pitt, on the fringes of these rankings, took a tough loss against Virginia Tech in the past week.
I've made an executive decision to highlight the small schools who have been on a tear over the past month-plus. After all, these rankings are not bracket projections and they are not trying to tell you explicitly who the very best teams are in the sport. I'm giving you a hot list of who's trending. As you'll see below, there are some mid-majors playing more consistently than most power-conference programs. Let's give them some recognition. So, consider this a quick crash course in the Cinderella candidates that will become trendy talking points in a couple of weeks if they get their business done in the conference tournaments.
Most teams in this sport right now are struggling to build momentum going into the postseason. If you want the exceptions, take a look at this week's rankings.
Hey Nineteen Power Rankings
Reminder: My rankings are not solely about whom I think is "best." This is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most *interesting* teams, combining team quality with win quality but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks. All records shown are vs. D-I competition.
|Record: 26-2 | Last week: 1. You can take other teams over Houston as who you think are the best right now, and I think there's a case for a couple right now. But keep this in mind: The Cougars are the only team that ranks top-10 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency at KenPom.com. From an empirical data standpoint, Houston is the best team in the country. It's also won 16 of 17 since Dec. 10. |
|Record: 23-5 | Last week: 7. Kansas is the easy answer for the rise up to No. 2 this week. The Jayhawks' 14 Quad 1 wins are a record, and it's conceivable this team gets to 18 or more. What's outrageous about this whole thing: Bill Self lost approximately 70% of his production from last year's national championship team, and now has this group pacing to be a No. 1 overall seed in the toughest conference in the country. Not normal!|
|Record: 23-4 | Last week: 5. The Bruins have lost twice in three months: at Arizona, at USC. The team's final road games come this weekend against Utah and Colorado. Mick Cronin's defense continues to carve out its edge; the Bruins rank second in points per possession allowed in the sport. In a season where a lot of traditional powers have underperformed, UCLA has been one of the most reliable teams.|
|Record: 24-4 | Last week: 3. There's no getting around what Wednesday night was: An awkward victory against a bad team for the Crimson Tide. Brandon Miller's 41 points set a program record for the most as a freshman. That it came amid the backdrop of controversy only added to the surreal nature of Alabama needing overtime to escape against lowly South Carolina. Alabama hosts Arkansas on Saturday and Auburn on Wednesday after that. |
|Record: 22-6 | Last week: 8. Shaka Smart's team is all but assured to win its first league title in a decade and just its fifth in program history. The win at Creighton on Tuesday was the unofficial clincher. Do you want a reason to buy in come March? Check this graphic of the selection committee's top 16 seeds from last Saturday. Nobody is more determined to play the layup-or-3 offense than MU. |
|Record: 23-5 | Last week: 11. The Hurricanes are riding their longest winning streak in ACC play (seven games) since they won the ACC a decade ago. The power rankings clued you into Miami's legitimacy weeks and weeks ago, and now it seems most have caught up. In light of Virginia's bad loss at BC on Wednesday (the Wahoos have been so wobbly in the past two weeks, I kicked them out of the Nineteen), Miami is now the most practical pick to depend upon from the ACC next month.|
|Record: 24-4 | Last week 4. Reminder that Purdue did lose (at Maryland) since last week's update. Now, one of the best games of the weekend is going down in Mackey Arena when Indiana comes to town. The Hoosiers got their big dub in Bloomington against Purdue a couple weeks back. Now it's time for the Boilermakers to prove themselves. I'll take Zach Edey vs. Trayce Jackson-Davis as often as you can give it to me. One more time in March, please?|
|Record: 23-5 | Last week: 9. I caught up with Gonzaga coach Mark Few this week, and as we got to talking about the Zags' season, he offered up how brutally tough Saint Mary's is. I'm paraphrasing Few here, but in essence he said that Randy Bennett's team is "committed to the cause" of bruising you on defense, wearing you down in the paint and squeezing you with their style. We'll see if the Gaels can sweep the Zags. They face-off Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. |
|Record: 22-5 | Last week: 13. Speaking of the Bulldogs, Gonzaga has a game against San Diego on Thursday night to deal with before it moves on to Saint Mary's. GU has won 15 straight vs. the Toreros, coached by Steve Lavin. Gonzaga needs to win its final two WCC games to finish league play with two or fewer losses for the seventh straight season.|
|Record: 22-6 | Last week: 12. The Longhorns now claim 10 Quad 1 victories, second only to Kansas. The 10th came this week at home vs. Iowa State, a win in which UT held ISU to a season-low 54 points in Big 12 competition. The Cyclones also couldn't prevent two separate runs (16-0 and 11-0) by Texas, which I took as the latest sign of this team being good enough to win four, five even six games in the NCAA Tournament. UT shot 55% against one of the toughest defense in the nation.|
|Record: 21-5 | Last week: 14. The Aztecs are 9-1 in their past 10 games and hold a one-game lead in the Mountain West on Boise State, thanks to Boise beating New Mexico on Wednesday night. Those two schools will square off Tuesday, but before that: SDSU can cripple New Mexico's at-large hopes Saturday if it can go down to Albuquerque and avenge its Jan. 14 home loss to the Lobos.|
|Record: 24-4 | Last week: 16. Only one game this week for the Wildcats. Rival Arizona State comes to Tucson on Saturday. Will Courtney Ramey light it up from 3-point range again? He's made 23 triples in his past seven games, and only had six turnovers in that stretch. The Wildcats are in good position to get a No. 1 seed if they can win out. The committee put them sixth overall in last Saturday's bracket reveal.|
|Record: 21-7 | Last week: NR. As you're going to see the further you scroll, we have more turnover this week with new teams than at any other point this season in the Hey Nineteen. Buzz Williams' squad beat Tennessee, giving them their 15th win in 17 games. The Aggies are now well on their way to making just their third NCAA Tournament in the past 12 seasons. A&M needs a win over one of the Mississippi schools in the next week to tie the program record for most conference wins in a season (14).|
|Record: 20-7 | Last week: NR. The Eagles were my first cut a week ago, and now they're swooping with a force. At 17 straight victories, David Riley's Eagles own the longest winning streak in men's college hoops. Riley is only 34 years old and in his second season. He took over after Shantay Legans brought EWU to the NCAAs in 2021, then left for Portland. Eastern Washington looks to go 16-0 in the Big Sky with a win at Weber State on Thursday.|
|Record: 20-7 | Last week: NR. The Wildcats are riding a five-game winning streak heading into their challenging test Thursday night at Illinois. It's NU's longest winning streak in the Big Ten since 2017 — the last and only other time the Wildcats made the NCAAs. That team set a program record for wins (24), a record I think this team will match by the time it exits the NCAA Tournament. Wildcats going for the über-rare sweep of both Indiana and Illinois. Strange times!|
|Record: 21-4 | Last week: NR. We've got a couple of Golden Eagles in the rankings this week, and given the Hey Nineteen credo of rewarding the hottest teams, there is no denying ORU any further. Paul Mills' team has one loss since Nov. 20. One! And it was by seven at New Mexico, which is a fringe NCAA Tournament team. Oral Roberts seeks to make program history this weekend; its final two league games await, both on the road. It would be the first time the school has gone undefeated in conference play.|
|Record: 18-10 | Last week: 17. I kept Creighton, which barely lost at home to a Marquette team that's going to win the Big East, probably, by multiple games. The Bluejays are 9-2 since Jan. 11 and will have their mettle tested this weekend at Villanova, which is coming off an upset at ranked Xavier. |
|Record: 21-6 | Last week: NR. Might have been my toughest decision this season for the 19 spot. A lot of teams to consider, but I'll go with a MAC team that's won 12 in a row, tied with Oral Roberts for second-longest active streak. The Rockets are 13-2 in the MAC and won 26 games last season. Their 39% 3-point accuracy is eighth-best in college basketball.|
|Record: 23-6 | Last week: NR. Darian DeVries' team is 13-1 in its past 14, the lone loss coming on the road by three points in overtime. Drake has won 10 straight and is tied at 15-4 with Bradley atop the Missouri Valley. So, this is perfect: The two schools face off on Sunday in Peoria, Illinois. DeVries is going for his 120th win in five years. He's earned a shot at a bigger job. |