Gather 'round, boys and girls. It's Sunday, which means it's time to recap the week that was in college basketball by handing out our weekly report card. We'll be grading some of the best and worst team performances in the last seven days throughout the sport.
I'm an optimist at heart, so let's start with the good. Kentucky yo-yoed its way back fromto earn a rare "A+" from me this week, not only snapping its two-game skid but doing so with consecutive wins over Mississippi State and No. 10 Tennessee to revive its NCAA Tournament hopes. UK's resume is lacking, but the two wins on the week and the regular-season sweep over the Vols at least bolsters its bubble prospects. Maybe, just maybe, the tourney will feature the Big Blue Nation after all.
Speaking of blue bloods with blue color schemes, No. 5 Kansas also drew high marks from yours truly with one of seven "A" or better grades on the report card this week. KU handled business on the road against red-hot Oklahoma State early in the week before showing its grit Saturday by digging out of a 17-point deficit at home versus No. 9 Baylor to win by 16. The Jayhawks extended their win streak to four games and maintained co-leader status in the Big 12 race with Texas.
There was plenty of bad throughout the sport, too, so this week's grades reflect as much of that as it does the good. The bad was less prominent but no less noticeable with Clemson, North Carolina and Ohio State leading the way at the bottom of this week's grades for all the wrong reasons.
Let's dive into the report card for this week. As always, keep in mind the cycle runs Monday-Sunday.
College basketball grades: This week's report card
|Kentucky||A+||Kentucky moved up to No. 33 in the latest NET rankings after recording two Quad 1 wins this week, first on the road vs. Mississippi State then at home vs. Tennessee. Neither win was all that aesthetically pleasing, but for an on-the-bubble UK team, it'll take what it can get with Selection Sunday fast approaching.|
|Northwestern||A+||Home wins over Indiana and Iowa after taking down No. 1 Purdue a week ago locks up Northwestern as one of the rare A+ scorers. The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in college hoops the last few weeks and poised to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time ever in program history.|
|Marquette||A||You don't get extra credit points from me for beating Georgetown, even if it is on the road, but Marquette still scores an "A" here for its 69-68 home win over Xavier. The win kept the Golden Eagles atop the Big East standings and importantly fended off Xavier from taking its spot.|
|Kansas||A||Kansas digging its way into a 17-point deficit at home vs. Baylor may warrant some red flags, but finding a way to win -- and by 16 points -- is more impressive than its early-game slump. KU's climbed into a share of the Big 12 lead and is positioned to be a 1-seed.|
|Gonzaga||A||One month after losing at home to Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga destroyed the Lions by 43 in a 2-0 week that ended with a comfortable 97-88 win over Pepperdine. Zags are peaking at the right time and now own the No. 1 offense in college hoops.|
|Arizona||A||With UCLA riding a hot streak, Arizona stayed hot on the Bruins' heels in the Pac-12 with wins this week at home over Utah and Colorado by a combined 36 points.|
|UCLA||A||UCLA dominated Cal 78-43 over the weekend to move up to No. 3 in scoring margin among power-conference teams this season. It does not play down to the level of its competition as the Bruins have won 20 of their last 22.|
|Texas Tech||B+||You know that GIF of The Undertaker rising from a coffin ? That's basically what Texas Tech is doing in real life with respect to its tourney chances. It opened Big 12 play 1-10 but has now won three straight over K-State, Texas and West Virginia -- giving it three necessary Quad 1 wins and a chance to backdoor its way to the Big Dance.|
|Houston||B+||Houston was a double-digit favorite over SMU and shorthanded Memphis this week and won one by double digits and another by eight, so within that context it's hard to bump the Cougars to the "A" line. Their 25 wins, though, are tied for the second-most in college hoops, and appearing on the 1 line in the bracket preview show over the weekend suggests it has been good enough to potentially gun for the No. 1 overall seed this March.|
|Duke||B+||With Coach K returning to Cameron Indoor for the first time since his retirement, Duke nearly gave away a huge lead at home to an atrocious Notre Dame team. It salvaged its grade on the week, though, thanks to a 77-55 beatdown of Syracuse on the Orange's home floor.|
|Alabama||B-||Tennessee held Alabama's high-flying offense to a season-low 59 points in a loss Wednesday before Bama bounced back with a 108-59 win over Georgia on Saturday. No team is more dangerous than Alabama coming off a loss this season.|
|Creighton||C+||A win over Providence would have vaulted Creighton into "A" territory for the week, but it fell in 2OT to the Friars and sleep-walked a bit vs. St. John's before pulling away late.|
|Virginia||C+||This is the lowest grade I've given a team that went 2-0 in a week, but it feels warranted in this case. UVa is playing with fire of late with a three-point win over Louisville and a two-point win over Notre Dame coming this week after an OT win over Duke (in which it should have lost in regulation). This team is probably the best in the ACC, but this year, that's not saying too much.|
|Tennessee||C||What an erratic week for Tennessee. It topped projected No. 1 seed Alabama by nine in Knoxville then turned around and lost by 12 to a desperate Kentucky team that seems to have UT's number. I'd sell all my Tennessee stock if I had any left, but I shorted the Vols long ago (and you should, too)|
|Baylor||C||The win over West Virginia to start the week was nice, but Baylor gets a "C" for choking away a double-digit road lead vs. Kansas. It's one thing to fumble a 17-point lead, but quite another to turn a 13-point halftime lead into a 16-point loss.|
|Purdue||C-||Beating an Ohio State team that had lost 12 of its last 13 coming into Sunday isn't enough to salvage Purdue's grade this week after falling to Maryland on the road by 14 earlier in the week. Purdue's had struggles closing games of late, but the Buckeyes were at least a nice confidence-booster.|
|Clemson||D-||Not even a 40-point win to open the week can prevent Clemson from landing the third-worst grade of the week. Losing to 3-23 Louisville is the low point of the season for the Tigers. Yikes.|
|Ohio State||F||Ohio State's lost 13 of its last 14, and things took another bad turn this week with losses to Iowa and Purdue by 17 and 27 points, respectively. Picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten in the preseason, Ohio State's nearly locked up a bottom-two spot in the league.|
|North Carolina||F||The preseason No. 1 Tar Heels lost at home to Miami by eight then on the road to NC State by eight in a week in which it desperately needed to win to keep its tourney hopes afloat. UNC still has zero Quad 1 wins and looks, barring a surprise, like it will be the first preseason No. 1 team to miss the NCAA Tournament.|