Grading teams this season has, for the most part, followed a formula. I've leaned on tougher grades overall and been more judicious with "As," requiring only truly special weeks from teams to earn that distinction. This week, however, I went full Oprah with the "As." We're almost to February. Conference races are fully in form, and a big nonconference weekend served as a perfect late-season test before tournament time.
With heightened stakes come heightened credit. Tennessee, Purdue, Baylor and two others got the rare A+ treatment, and nine total teams earned As on the week.
For all the chaos this weekend -- seven ranked teams fell to unranked teams in a wild shakeup Saturday -- I felt it necessary to reward those who avoided disaster. Of course, that means those who were not so fortunate must pay the price with some ugly grades.
So let's dive into the report card for this week. Keep in mind the cycle runs Monday-Sunday.
College basketball grades: This week's report card
|Tennessee||A+||Tennessee flexed its muscles in a big way this week with a 29-point win over Georgia followed by an 11-point win Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge over Texas. The Vols have been carried by their defense, but the offense seems to be catching up as the season rolls along.|
|Purdue||A+||The top of Monday's AP Top 25 is likely to once again be occupied by Purdue. Following a huge road win over Michigan, the Boilermakers executed a convincing, complete home coronation over Michigan State.|
|Baylor||A+||Led by the No. 2 offense in college basketball, Baylor's win streak moved to six with wins over Kansas and Arkansas in Waco. The Bears had a bumpy few weeks to start the year but are hitting their stride as March approaches.|
|Florida Atlantic||A+||FAU improved to 21-1 with its win over Western Kentucky on Saturday. With Charleston falling over the weekend to Hofstra, the Owls claim the longest active winning streak in the sport at 20 games.|
|Creighton||A+||A surprising six-game losing streak early in the season made preseason top-10 Creighton look like mere mortals, but the Bluejays have been a different team lately. They moved to within 1.5 games of first place in the Big East after beating St. John's then Xavier on Saturday.|
|Arizona||A||A two-game road trip to the state of Washington netted Arizona two more wins as it stayed hot on UCLA's trail in the Pac-12 race. The Wildcats led wire-to-wire vs. Washington State then outscored the Washington by 21 in the second half to show its mettle.|
|Indiana||A||Don't look now, but Indiana's won five-straight and just smashed a talented Ohio State team by 16 points. The emergence of true freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino next to Trayce Jackson-Davis makes this the best hyphenated-name tandem in all of college basketball.|
|Saint Mary's||A||Saint Mary's retained its standing as the top dog in the WCC this week after toppling BYU on the road behind Aidan Mahaney's go-ahead jumper in the final seconds. The Gaels are 19-4 overall and a perfect 8-0 in WCC play -- their best start to conference action since 2017-18.|
|Marquette||A||Creighton's win over Xavier and Marquette's road blowout win over DePaul put the Golden Eagles into a tie for first place in the Big East. After being picked ninth in the league, Shaka Smart radically turned the program around in short order behind the No. 1-ranked offense in college hoops.|
|Virginia||B+||Clemson remains the ACC leader but Virginia is keeping things tight after blowing out Boston College at home this week to extend its winning streak in league play to six games.|
|Clemson||B+||In a trap-game on the road at Tallahassee, Clemson escaped with an 82-81 win over Florida State. Thanks to a home win over Georgia Tech four days earlier, the Tigers remain atop the ACC.|
|Gonzaga||B+||You don't quite get an A for handling business against Portland and Pacific, but I'm willing to give props to the Zags for responding to their first home loss since 2018 with big road wins over conference foes.|
|Houston||B+||Despite sluggish starts out of the gate this week against both UCF and Cincinnati, Houston won both games by double figures to remain a half-game up on Temple in the AAC.|
|Kansas||B-||Winning on the road inside Rupp Arena over Kentucky in most seasons would be enough to warrant an A, regardless of the rest of the week. But with Kentucky still finding itself, it wasn't enough to get KU to an A after the Jayhawks fell on the road earlier in the week to Baylor.|
|Duke||C+||Duke has alternated losses and wins over the last two weeks, but an 86-43 win at Georgia Tech marked the second-largest margin of victory for Duke against an ACC foe in the last decade. It was the largest margin since the Blue Devils defeated -- who else -- Georgia Tech by 53 in 2017.|
|Kentucky||C||There are no moral victories at Kentucky, but putting up a good fight at home to a Kansas team that looks like a No. 1 seed is encouraging. The Wildcats struggled mightily from 3-point range and have some kinks to work out defensively, but they're steadily improving.|
|Iowa State||C-||Hot-and-cold Iowa State kept its streaky streak rolling with a massive win at home over Kansas State followed by a complete dud at Missouri in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.|
|Alabama||D||Alabama has been the bully of the SEC for the last few weeks, but it was the one getting bullied by Oklahoma in a 93-69 blowout on Saturday. It was the largest margin of defeat for a top-two team against an unranked opponent.|
|Auburn||D-||Auburn lost at home by 16 points to Texas A&M to kick off the week, and continued its disappointment with a close-shave loss at West Virginia . The Tigers kept things close in Morgantown but never led and could not get over the hump.|
|Louisville||F||I feel bad for Louisville, which fell to 2-19 on the season and 0-10 in ACC play with blowout losses to Boston College and Notre Dame. The woes have made for tremendous content, however. It's hard to consistently find a team worthy of an F each week, but you've done it again, Cards.|
|LSU||F||LSU's losing streak extended to eight games this week against Arkansas and Texas Tech. The Tigers were at least competitive vs. the Red Raiders, but it's hardly a consolation against a team that has yet to win a Big 12 game.|