Oftentimes, the couple weeks following Thanksgiving can be a slow period in college basketball. The high competition of the early-season tournaments can have some teams looking for reprieve in smaller opponents. Finals are coming up, too, which means teams will usually go at least a week without contesting a game. After all, these dynamic players are still students! None of this seems to apply this year.
Three of our top twelve teams from a week ago fell in what was another chaotic stretch of games. The result is a poll that is much-changed from this time seven days ago. Michigan State flexed their muscle against Notre Dame. Both Xavier and Seton Hall knocked off two ranked teams. The USC Trojans continue to struggle as one of their best players sits with eligibility concerns. Without further ado, let’s see how this all affected our voters and take a look at the new CPP Top 25:
- Duke (10-0, LW: 1) def. Indiana, 91-81; def. South Dakota, 96-80. Duke is the first team to ten wins this season. They battled for much of the game against IU before pulling away with their superior talent. Marvin Bagley has lived up to the hype thus far. He will lead Duke against St. Francis (PA) and ACC foe Boston College this week.
- Michigan State (7-1, LW: 4) def. Notre Dame, 81-63; def. Nebraska, 86-57. Like a well-oiled machine, the Spartans’ combination of defensive tenacity and number of offensive weapons tore through two more opponents. Michigan State even picked up a couple first-place votes this week. Rutgers and Southern Utah are the next victims.
- Kansas (7-0, LW: 2) def. Toledo, 96-58; def. Syracuse, 76-60. So far, KU is the most consistent team in the nation. They’re winning games by an average of thirty-one points a game. Their only nail-biter was UK; Syracuse deserves props for even keeping the margin within twenty. Next up to challenge the Jayhawks are Pac-12 teams Washington and Arizona State.
- Villanova (8-0, LW: 3) def. Penn, 90-62; def. St. Joseph’s, 94-53. At this point, it’s clear Villanova has lapped their Big Five brethren. They hit nineteen triples against the Hawks to set a program record. The Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday will see them clash with Gonzaga. La Salle will be the next Big Five challenge in a Sunday game.
- Wichita State (6-1, LW: 6) def. Savannah State, 112-66; def. Baylor, 69-62. The Shockers rebounded nicely from their tough Maui loss. After demolishing the Tigers, Wichita State went to Waco and took care of Baylor behind Connor Frankamp and Shaq Morris. This week, they entertain South Dakota State before traveling to Stillwater for a battle with Oklahoma State.
- Miami (FL) (7-0, LW: 10) def. Minnesota, 86-81; def. Princeton, 80-52. A category five hurricane may be brewing in Coral Gables, but Floridians should be excited not scared. Instead of the vaunted backcourt, it was forward Dewan Huell that paced Miami in their ultra-impressive road win against Minnesota. Boston University will make the trip down the coast for a game on Tuesday.
- Texas A&M (7-0, LW: 7) def. UT-Rio Grande Valley, 78-60. The Aggies more or less went through the motions to pick up their win against UT-RGV. After coming out sluggish, they used a 16-0 run to take control, then coasted. A slow start like that could prove deleterious against their next opponent: the hungry Arizona Wildcats.
- Florida (5-1, LW: 9) The Gators took the full week off after their trip to Portland ended with that tough loss against Duke. Despite not playing, the chaos around them allowed UF to move up a slot on our rankings. They make up for the idleness by playing three times this week, against Florida State, Loyola (IL), and Cincy.
- Xavier (7-1, LW: 16) def. Baylor, 76-63; def. Cincinnati, 89-76. Those who thought Xavier might take a step back without Edmund Sumner have been proven dead wrong. Primarily, that’s because Trevon Bluiett is still in school. He’s averaging 20.8 points a game on 53 percent shooting. It’ll be Kent State and Colorado for the Musketeers this week.
- Notre Dame (7-1, LW: 5) lost to Michigan State, 63-81; def. St. Francis (NY), 71-53. Ouch. The Irish got a tough taste of reality in East Lansing. They were able to rebound with a win, but it came at the expense of ejections to Bonzie Colson and Coach Mike Brey. He and his unit will look to regroup against Ball State and Delaware, which will be a rare road game.
- Kentucky (7-1, LW: 11) def. Harvard, 79-70. After a tight first half, UK opened up a twenty-point lead against the Crimson during the final frame. However, again, they lost focus, and couldn’t complete a blowout. There’s no denying the talent on this team, or the expertise of their coach. But this could prove fatal against quality teams. They play Monmouth next.
- North Carolina (8-1, LW: 14) def. Michigan, 86-71; def. Davidson, 85-75; def. Tulane, 97-73. The Dean Dome sure was rocking against Michigan, and the players fed off the energy. Joel Berry and Luke Maye then combined for 51 against a pesky Davidson team. Tulane was no competition for the Tar Heels, who have Western Carolina next on the docket.
- Gonzaga (7-1, LW: 19) def. Incarnate Word, 103-68; def. Creighton, 91-74. The Zags used an impressive showing against Creighton to vault up the rankings. They’ve still got seven guys averaging at least 9.8 points a game. This depth will be put to the test in a game against Villanova on Tuesday. They also travel to Washington on Sunday.
- Virginia (8-0, LW: 18) def. Wisconsin, 49-37; def. Lehigh, 75-54. That game against the Badgers set basketball back about five decades, though the Hoos will gladly take the W. Tuesday night, they travel to border rival West Virginia in their first major test. Davidson will come to Charlottesville over the weekend.
- Seton Hall (7-1, LW: 22) def. Texas Tech, 89-79; def. Louisville, 79-77. An awesome week has the Pirates jumping way up the rankings. Overall, the Big East has flexed some muscle. Desi Rodriguez hit an incredible shot to stun Louisville in their own building. Seton Hall will look to build on the great wins with a weekend game against Virginia Commonwealth.
- Minnesota (8-1, LW: 12) lost to Miami, 81-86; def. Rutgers, 89-67. Home losses always hurt, but something makes us think that particular defeat isn’t going to hurt Minnesota’s résumé (hint: Miami’s GOOD). Nate Mason then led his teammates in taking out some aggression on Rutgers. Up next, road games! First is conference foe Nebraska, then Arkansas.
- Cincinnati (7-1, LW: 8) def. Alabama State, 83-51; lost to Xavier, 76-89. Rivalry games are a different breed. Cincy found that out the tough way, as they got thoroughly outplayed against Xavier. The schedule stays difficult for Mick Cronin this week. The Bearcats only play one game, but it’s against Florida.
- TCU (8-0, LW: 21) def. Belmont, 87-76; def. Yale, 92-66. Jamie Dixon certainly has the Horned Frogs exceeding expectations. It helps to have the depth he does, led by floor general Jaylen Fisher. The road gets considerably tougher this week. At this time in seven days, we’ll know if TCU can walk the walk. Their next opponents are SMU and Nevada.
- Arizona State (7-0, LW: 24) def. San Francisco, 75-57. The Sun Devils rolled against the Dons, led by Romello White and Tra Holder. Is their high-powered offense indicative of a contender? This week will tell the country a lot. They’ve got Big East program St. John’s on a neutral court, then travel to Allen Fieldhouse to test themselves against the best.
- West Virginia (7-1, LW: 23) def. NJIT, 102-69. It’s rivalry week for the Mountaineers! Hopefully, they enjoyed their warmup with NJIT. First is Virginia, whom they host on Tuesday. Over the weekend it’s the Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh. With how well Jevon Carter’s playing, they just might win both.
- USC (4-2, LW: 13) lost to SMU, 55-72. Moody Magic claimed another victim, as the Trojans were thoroughly outplayed in a road loss. They’re still without De’Anthony Melton due to concerns over eligibility, too. USC will have to fight through the tumult to beat a surging Oklahoma team in their lone game this week.
- Baylor (5-2, LW: 17) lost to Xavier, 63-76; lost to Wichita State, 62-69. Baylor fell back to earth after their strong start, losing both of their games against ranked opponents. Manu Lecomte has to be more assertive in big games. They should get back to winning this week with a pair of easy opponents, including non-NCAA foe Randall University.
- Nevada (8-0, LW: UR) def. Illinois State, 98-68; def. UC-Irvine, 76-65. Under the radar no longer, the Wolfpack are the fifth-best team in the country according to the flawed metric of RPI. Still, they’ve earned the right to crack our poll. This week will determine if they plan on being a mainstay, as Texas Tech and TCU are both high-quality opponents.
- Oklahoma (5-1, LW: 25) def. North Texas, 82-72. Trae Young continues to assert himself as the best freshman guard in the country. He’s got his hometown Sooners humming, even when they allowed UNT to hang around a little longer than they should’ve. Up next, UT-San Antonio. Then, the big one: USC over the weekend.
- Louisville (4-2, LW: 15) lost to Purdue, 57-66; lost to Seton Hall, 77-79. David Padgett is learning on the job, but that was a tough week. Louisville played well enough to win both games, but fell short. The home loss to the Pirates was particularly heartbreaking. A midweek game with Siena preludes a clash with Indiana on Saturday.
Dropped Out: Texas Tech (20)
Just Missed the Cut: Texas Tech, Purdue, Creighton, Arizona, UCLA
This coming week will be very important for the teams towards the bottom of the poll. Everyone wants to move up and see a smaller number next to their name. Doing that requires winning. We’ll see whether teams like Arizona State, TCU, and Nevada have what it takes to climb the rungs of the rankings ladder. As we inch closer to the holidays, it seems that the schedules will continue to heat up. We here at College Pride Press will have wall-to-wall coverage of it all!