Hopefully the holiday season has brought you as much excitement as it brought for college basketball fans! Here at College Pride Press, we’re firm believers in having a good time and being with family. It’s why we’ve waited until today for the release of our poll.
This past week usually is a slow period in the season. Instead, we got three top ten upsets! UCLA got the better of Kentucky. Wofford, of the Big South, went into Chapel Hill and knocked off the Tar Heels! The result? More madness as we get set to begin conference season.
As Drake would say, however, we are about to go 0 to a hundred real quick. That’s because conference play begins this week. With that comes all the uncertainty of tricky road games and ranked clashes. Let’s see what the new CPP Top 25 looks like as we enter this crucial period of the season:
- Michigan State (12-1, LW: 2) def. Houston Baptist, 107-62; def. Long Beach State, 102-60. By the slimmest of margins, the rolling Spartans are our new number one team. Because of the quirky Big Ten schedule, they’ll actually finish their non-conference slate this week with Cleveland State and Savannah State. Big Ten opponents will be waiting after that, though!
- Villanova (12-0, LW: 1) def. Hofstra, 95-71. A slight dip sees the Wildcats check in as number two this week. Still, a cakewalk against the Pride means they move towards Big East play with an undefeated record. Coach Jay Wright will take his team on the road for both contests. The opponents are DePaul and Butler.
- Duke (12-1, LW: 3) def. Evansville, 104-40. Poor Evansville! They were 10-2 coming into their trip to Cameron Indoor. Instead of being competitive, they were blasted, entering halftime with a forty-point deficit. For Duke, it was a punctual end to the non-conference season. A tricky game with Florida State begins the conference schedule.
- Arizona State (12-0, LW: 4) def. Longwood, 95-61; def. Pacific, 104-65. Look at those Sun Devils go! Undefeated and ranked as the fourth best team in the nation, Bobby Hurley has to be a frontrunner for national coach of the year. A major test awaits in their next game: Pac-12 play opens up with a road trip to Arizona, deep in the desert.
- Texas A&M (11-1, LW: 6) def. Northern Kentucky, 64-58; def. Buffalo, 89-73. Who’s the SEC favorite entering conference play? Not UK. Not the Gators. It’s got to be the Aggies, who are running on all cylinders. Saturday begins the SEC season, and we’ll see if A&M can stay hot. Alabama will be a good test.
- Xavier (12-1, LW: 7) def. Marshall, 81-77; def. Northern Iowa, 77-67. The ride has not been entirely smooth for the Musketeers. Both of their previous opponents gave them solid games. Even still, Xavier has a gaudy record entering Big East play. There are two games on the docket, a road one against Marquette, and a home contest with DePaul.
- Wichita State (10-2, LW: 8) def. Arkansas State, 89-80; def. Florida Gulf Coast, 75-65. Following the setback against Oklahoma, the Shockers didn’t demonstrate a lot of confidence in either of their wins. FGCU even had the game tied at the under-four media timeout of the second half. A road trip to UConn opens up their inaugural American Conference slate.
- West Virginia (11-1, LW: 13) def. Coppin State, 77-38; def. Fordham, 86-69. There was some vintage WVU this week, particularly when you notice the 28 turnovers forced against hapless Coppin State. The vaunted Mountaineer backcourt now enters a loaded Big 12 schedule, beginning with a weekend trip to Stillwater and Oklahoma State.
- TCU (12-0, LW: 11) def. Texas Southern, 91-72; def. William & Mary, 86-75. 1998. That was the last time TCU made the tournament. Marvin Bagley and Trae Young weren’t born. UConn had not yet won a single national title. The Horned Frogs’ coach was Billy Tubbs. This is all relevant because TCU is entering Big 12 play as an undefeated top ten team under Jamie Dixon. A huge battle with Oklahoma serves as the opener.
- Kansas (10-2, LW: 12) def. Omaha, 109-64; def. Stanford, 75-54. There were no challenges this week for the Jayhawks. As they get set to being conference play, big man Silvio De Sousa will join the roster. He’s a welcome sight for a roster that was struggling mightily with depth. A road game with Texas is their only upcoming contest.
- Oklahoma (10-1, LW: 14) def. Northwestern State, 105-68; def. Northwestern, 104-78. That’s four consecutive Big 12 teams. In case you needed another reminder that Trae Young is good, he dished 22 assists against Northwestern State, then netted 31 points in the following game. The real tests begin now, as the Sooners travel to undefeated TCU for their next contest.
- Miami (FL) (10-1, LW: 5) def. Hawaii, 75-57; lost to New Mexico State, 54-63. Hawaii proved to be an island of horror for the ‘Canes, as they suffered a shocking loss. As a result, they’ve plummeted down our rankings. They met Middle Tennessee last night in Hawaii to begin the week. Conference play gets started with Pittsburgh over the weekend.
- Virginia (11-1, LW: 15) def. Savannah State, 78-47; def. Hampton, 82-48. There are few teams in the nation that have surprised as much as the Cavaliers. This was supposed to be a season of rebuilding; instead, they’ve glided towards the top ten. Conference play marks the next chapter. Boston College comes to Charlottesville on Saturday.
- Purdue (12-2, LW: 18) def. Tennessee State, 97-48. The Boilermakers blitzed the Tigers thanks to 26 points from Carsen Edwards. Purdue, like Michigan State, still has to wait another week before beginning conference play. Instead, their only game this week will be with Lipscomb on Saturday night.
- North Carolina (11-2, LW: 9) lost to Wofford, 75-79; def. Ohio State, 86-72. Also falling like a rock was the Tar Heels. There’s really no explaining the loss to Wofford; the Terriers came in and coasted with a strong second half. Luckily, Roy Williams had his team ready to rebound against the Buckeyes. ACC play begins with instate rival Wake Forest.
- Kentucky (9-2, LW: 10) lost to UCLA, 75-83. The young cats couldn’t quite hang with a hungry UCLA squad. As a result, Kentucky has taken a big hit to its ranking. One last non-conference game will prelude the beginning of conference play against Georgia on Sunday. That’s game will be the classic battle with Louisville, this year in Rupp Arena.
- Seton Hall (11-2, LW: 16) def. Wagner, 89-68; def. Manhattan, 74-62. Neither of the New York teams were able to come across the Hudson River and pull an upset. It means the Pirates will host Creighton in their Big East opener coming off a pair of wins. St. John’s is also scheduled for the weekend.
- Arizona (10-3, LW: 20) def. North Dakota State, 83-53; def. Connecticut, 73-58. After blowing past ND State, the Wildcats got a strong test from the Huskies, before their superior talent and three-point shooting acumen carried the day. Conference play for the Wildcats begins at home with the rival Sun Devils coming to the McKale Center.
- Cincinnati (11-2, LW: 19) def. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 77-49; def. Cleveland State, 81-62. It was an easy week for the Bearcats as they wrapped up their non-conference schedule with a pair of victories. They held Arkansas-Pine Bluff to sixteen first half points. Conference play begins on Sunday for Cincy with a home game against Memphis.
- Texas Tech (11-1, LW: 23) def. Florida Atlantic, 90-54; def. Abilene Christian, 74-47. It’s a Red Rising (GREAT book series) for the Red Raiders. Tech breezed through their last preps for Big 12 play, hitting 14 triples against FAU. The Big 12 gauntlet presents a tough opening game with Baylor on Friday night. Fortunately, it’s in Lubbock.
- Notre Dame (10-3, LW: 22) def. Dartmouth, 97-87; def. SE Louisiana, 86-50. The Irish got a big game from Bonzie Colson against Dartmouth, netting 37 points. Then, he went down with a bloody nose against SE Louisiana! With their star big man down, the guards stepped up to lead the rout. On the docket is struggling Georgia Tech.
- Baylor (10-2, LW: 25) def. Southern, 80-60. The Bears are finally done with the “SWAC” portion of their schedule. The intended result was met as they racked up some wins. Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. enters conference play pacing the Bears by averaging a double-double. He’s one of five Bears averaging double figures. Tricky road opponent Texas Tech will be a good test.
- Louisville (10-2, LW: 21) def. Albany, 70-68; def. Grand Canyon, 74-56. Louisville has been one of the tougher teams in the country to read. They looked strong against Grand Canyon, but only after nearly falling against minnows Albany. The Cards bring a six-game winning streak into their rivalry bout with Kentucky on Friday.
- Gonzaga (10-3, LW: 17) def. IUPUI, 101-71; lost to San Diego State, 72-70. Another team which unexpectedly lost was the Bulldogs. In retrospect, the Aztecs are often ultra-difficult to beat at home. The Zags will come back to Spokane for two home games at the beginning of WCC play. Those opponents will be Pacific and Santa Clara.
- Creighton (10-2, LW: NR) def. UT-Arlington, 90-81; def. SC Upstate, 116-62. We’ve got a new team in the poll this week! The Jays finished up their non-conference schedule with a thunderous victory. Big East play is always tricky, however. A road game against Seton Hall begins the schedule. That’ll be followed by Providence, back in Omaha.
Out from Last Week: (24) Florida
Just Missed the Cut: Florida, Florida State, SMU, UCLA, Arkansas
By this time next week, every conference will have begun league play. There’s no more hiding behind weak schedules or relying on a constant stream of home games. We can finally see who is a real threat for March, and whose record is a little inflated by a soft set of opponents. Be sure to check back with College Pride Press every day from now to the end of the season for exclusive content!