Well, so much for last week being slow. A multitude of ranked teams fell on Saturday, creating hysteria for our voters. It seems that after finals, some of our ranked teams came out flat. Several of these games ended in dramatic fashion, such as Indiana’s upset win over Notre Dame and Xavier’s dramatic heroics to overcome their opponent.
The most impressive performance in a week with fewer games was undoubtedly Oklahoma. The Sooners went into Wichita, Kansas (something the Jayhawks will never do!) and came out with a victory over the formerly number four Shockers. At this point, Trae Young has to be a strong candidate for national player of the year. Now, it’s time to reveal the newest edition of the College Pride Press Top 25:
- Villanova (11-0, LW: 1) def. Temple, 87-67. Villanova only played once this week, but they put in a clinical performance to top the Owls. Jalen Brunson led the way with a dominating game that included 31 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists. CPP’s number one team will play against Hofstra on Friday night before the Christmas break.
- Michigan State (10-1, LW: 2) def. Oakland, 86-73. Upset-minded Oakland gave the Spartans a good fight for thirty-five minutes, but the superior talent at Tom Izzo’s disposal allowed his team to pull away at the end. Back in action twice this week, Michigan State plays against Houston Baptist on Monday and Long Beach State on Thursday.
- Duke (11-1, LW: 5) Duke was off this entire past week to take finals. However, primarily due to Wichita State’s loss and a non-stellar performance from Miami, they have moved up to the number three spot. They’ve got one game this week before Christmas, and it should result in a win against Evansville.
- Arizona State (10-0, LW: 8) def. Vanderbilt, 76-64. And the Sun Devils march on. They started slow, but dominated the Commodores during the middle stretch of the game. Reserve Mickey Mitchell had a coming out with 8 points and 13 rebounds. Expect them to stay undefeated with games against Longwood and Pacific on the docket.
- Miami (FL) (9-0, LW: 3) def. George Washington, 59-50. Finals must have taken a toll on the Hurricanes, because they looked very flat down the stretch. Despite a 17-point lead at halftime, the ‘Canes only won by nine. Still, they are one of four undefeated teams left. They travel to paradise for a road game against Hawaii this weekend.
- Texas A&M (9-1, LW: 9) def. Savannah State, 113-66. A&M looked like a juggernaut against their hapless opponents. The Aggies put seven players in double figures and hit 16 three-pointers. They play twice this week against Northern Kentucky and Buffalo. Getting past those two would put the Aggies on a perfect path entering SEC play.
- Xavier (10-1, LW: 6) def. East Tennessee State, 68-66. That was almost a nightmare result for the Musketeers. Down double digits nearly the entire game, they stormed back to win thanks to Trevon Bluiett. He’s averaging 21.4 points a game. Next up is Marshall on Tuesday. They go to Northern Iowa for a game on Friday.
- Wichita State (8-2, LW: 4) lost to Oklahoma, 83-91. Shockers fans will note that the loss came in an arena other than their usual home. Any way you slice it, they were thoroughly outplayed by the Sooners in a “home” game. Wichita State has two games this week to prelude the Christmas break, against Arkansas State and Florida Gulf Coast.
- North Carolina (10-1, LW: 10) def. Tennessee, 78-73. In a slow-ish week, the Tar Heels picked up one of the best wins in the country. The Vols are very strong this year, and the environment was hostile. The Tar Heels’ trickiest game will be against Ohio State on Saturday. Before that, they host Wofford in what should be a cakewalk.
- Kentucky (9-1, LW: 12) def. Virginia Tech, 93-86. Despite being down at the half, Hamidou Diallo led the Wildcats over the Hokies in an awesome back-and-forth game. The only game for Coach Calipari’s young cats this week will be against UCLA on a neutral court. They should present a good challenge for Kentucky.
- TCU (10-0, LW: 16) Despite not playing, the Horned Frogs jumped five spots in the rankings due to some other teams dropping games. Their incredible season has not gone unnoticed, and they’re one of the last undefeated teams standing. They’ll look to finish out the non-conference schedule undefeated by hosting Texas Southern and William & Mary this week.
- Kansas (8-2, LW: 11) def. Nebraska, 73-72. The difficulties continue for KU, but this time, some heroics from Slavko Mykhailiuk ensured they wound up with a W. Their dearth of depth continues to be an issue. Hopefully, that can change in the second half of the season. They finish up the non-conference schedule with games against Omaha and Stanford.
- West Virginia (10-1, LW: 13) def. Wheeling Jesuit, 98-50. Division II Wheeling Jesuit didn’t pose any challenge to the Mountaineers. Coach Huggins was able to play his entire roster for extended minutes. Two more inferior opponents await West Virginia. They are Coppin State and Fordham, with the latter coming on Saturday.
- Oklahoma (8-1, LW: 20) def. Wichita State, 91-83. How good is Trae Young? He’s averaging 29 points and 9 assists on the year. He was again majestic in leading the Sooners to a great road win. They got a nice bump in our rankings. They have two more games before Christmas. Northwestern State should be an easy win. Northwestern will be more difficult.
- Virginia (9-1, LW: 18) def. Davidson, 80-60. With finals behind them, the Cavaliers turned in a good performance against Steph’s alma mater. Guard Nigel Johnson had 22 points off the bench. Moving forward shouldn’t be too hard for the Cavs, as they only have to worry about Savannah State and Hampton for the next slate of games.
- Seton Hall (9-2, LW: 7) def. Saint Peter’s, 84-61; lost to Rutgers, 65-71. Seton Hall suffered a definite setback against Rutgers. However, I think everyone can see that Steve Pikiell has the RAC jumping again, and Rutgers may claim more scalps this year. As for the Pirates, their last preps before Big East play will be Wagner and Manhattan.
- Purdue (11-2, LW: 22) def. Butler, 82-67. The Crossroads Classic proved to be a fruitful venture for the Boilermakers as they dismantled Butler. This team will go as far as the two Edwards’s can take them. They only have one game upcoming. It’s against Tennessee State on Thursday night.
- Gonzaga (9-2, LW: 19) def. North Dakota, 89-83. It may have taken overtime, but the Zags managed to hold on against North Dakota. Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell, Jr. led the way, combining for 39 points. With conference play approaching, the Zags only have two more chances to refind their form, and San Diego State this weekend will not be an easy win.
- Cincinnati (9-2, LW: 17) def. Mississippi State, 65-50; def. UCLA, 77-63. The Bearcats picked up a pair of sold wins over a previously-undefeated Mississippi State team and the middling Bruins. Their last two games before American Conference play will be against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Cleveland State.
- Arizona (8-3, LW: NR) def. New Mexico, 89-73. Back in the rankings are the Wildcats! With the amount of talent on the roster, it’s no surprise. Their games this week against North Dakota State and Connecticut will determine if they stay ranked, though no one would be surprised if the Wildcats already have one eye on the Pac-12 opener against Arizona State.
- Louisville (8-2, LW: 23) def. Bryant, 102-59; def. Memphis, 81-72. Louisville looked really good against an overwhelmed Bryant squad. Three players all scored 17 points to lead Louisville. Memphis may have kept the game tied at the half, but the superior Cardinals talent led them to victory. Albany and Grand Canyon are next on the docket.
- Notre Dame (8-3, LW: 14) lost to Indiana, 77-80. Banker’s Life Fieldhouse proved to be a hostile place for the Irish. They were toppled by the Hoosiers in overtime, though you can’t blame Bonzie Colson, who has 29 points and 11 rebounds. Their next opponents are Dartmouth and Southeastern Louisiana. Both games are at home.
- Texas Tech (9-1, LW: NR) def. Kennesaw State, 82-53; def. Rice, 73-53. After a one week absence, the Red Raiders are back in the poll. A pair of strong performances made this an easy call for our voters. Two games remain before the real test of Big 12 play begins. Those opponents will be Florida Atlantic and Abilene Christian.
- Florida (6-4, LW: 15) lost to Clemson, 69-71. The Gators sure have struggled since their double overtime win over Gonzaga. Counting the narrow defeat against Duke, Florida has lost four of their last five, including three at home. However, they’ve impressed our writers enough to stay ranked. Anything but dominating performances against James Madison and Incarnate Word could see the Gators drop all the way out.
- Baylor (9-2, LW: 24) def. Texas Southern, 99-68; def. Savannah State, 118-86. As promised, the Bears walloped both of their opponents last week. Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil saw the wars last year and will be ready for Big 12 play after the holidays. Prior to the festivities, they have a game with another SWAC foe. This time, it’s Southern.
Out from Last Week: (20) Florida State, (25) Tennessee
Just Missed the Cut: Florida State, USC, Tennessee, Nevada, Syracuse
This upcoming week just might be the most wonderful time of the year! Hanukkah is wrapping up. And Christmas cheer is in the air. For college basketball fans, there won’t be much under the tree or beside the Menorah. Just like with the past week, most teams want to avoid stressful matchups with the mini-break for the holidays so close. Saturday will have some solid matchups, but there probably won’t be a lot of movement in the poll next Monday. Then again, we said that last week. So anything is possible! Be sure to stay tuned in to College Pride Press as we get closer to conference play and the schedule heats up!