Early season tournaments always seem to bring the same fire as March Madness. This year was no different. From Portland to Nassau, top-caliber teams tested themselves, trying to gauge where they are now, and what they have to improve over the next couple months. The two brackets of the PK80 saw the favorites win, but it wasn’t without drama, particularly on the Motion side. Chaos was the word of the day in the Bahamas, as two ranked teams played to see who would finish last. Meanwhile, other tournaments showed that teams expected to rebuild may be ready to compete a year early. Other teams saw their deficiencies revealed and exploited.
Undoubtedly, the horrid week of Arizona is worth a mention. Spoiler alert, you won’t find the Wildcats in our updated rankings. That’s what three consecutive losses, including two to unranked teams, will do to a school. They looked disorganized and disinterested at times. While it may be only November, that should be a strong warning bell to anyone who was set to ride Arizona all the way to March. While Coach Miller’s team may have dropped out of our polls, they weren’t the only ones. Let’s take a look at a vastly changed CPP Top 25:
- Duke (8-0, LW: 1) def. Furman, 92-63; def. Portland State, 99-81; def. Texas, 85-78; def. Florida 87-84. It wasn’t easy, but the Blue Devils battled their way to the PK80 Motion Bracket title. They received first place votes from all of our writers. With Marvin Bagley playing the way he is, that isn’t likely to change any time soon. This week, they play at Indiana in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and then host South Dakota.
- Kansas (5-0, LW: 3) def. Texas Southern, 114-71; def. Oakland, 102-59. The Jayhawks have had no trouble dispatching most opponents early in the season. Slavko Mykhailiuk is leading five players in double figure scoring, at 18.8 a game. They play Toledo on Tuesday and match up with Syracuse over the weekend in the HoopHall Miami Invitational.
- Villanova (6-0, LW: 6) def. Western Kentucky, 66-58; def. Tennessee, 85-76; def. Northern Iowa, 64-50. Villanova was the only thing that held true to form in a wild Battle 4 Atlantis. As a result, they’ve moved up in our poll this week. The Wildcats started slow against WKU and Tennessee, tournament MVP Jalen Brunson ensured the Wildcats walked out with wins. Big Five opponents Penn and St. Joe’s are next.
- Michigan State (5-1, LW: 5) def. DePaul, 73-51; def. Connecticut, 77-57; def. North Carolina, 63-45. Despite slow starts against DePaul and UConn, the Spartans rolled to comfortable wins. Then, they blew out the Tar Heels to clinch the PK80 Victory bracket. Cassius Winston had an incredible tournament while Miles Bridges is back in action. A massive game with Notre Dame will take place on Thursday. A conference game against Rutgers due to a scheduling quirk will be contested on Sunday.
- Notre Dame (6-0, LW: 15) def. Chaminade, 83-56; def. LSU, 92-53; def. Wichita State, 67-66. Hawaii was extra special for the casual dressing Coach Brey, as his team took the tournament title in thrilling fashion. As a result, they’ve jumped high up our poll. Maui MVP Matt Farrell is the heartbeat for Notre Dame. A major test, a road game against Michigan State, awaits. They also entertain St. Francis (NY) next Sunday.
- Wichita State (5-1, LW: 4) def. California, 92-82; def. Marquette, 80-66; lost to Notre Dame 66-67. Their trip to Maui was drama-filled, as a furious comeback against Cal and a tight loss to the Irish sandwiched a hard-fought win over Marquette. The Shockers will look to rebound Tuesday against Savannah State. A larger challenge, Baylor, will be faced over the weekend.
- Texas A&M (6-0, LW: 10) def. Oklahoma State, 72-55; def. Penn State, 98-87; def. Pepperdine, 81-65; def. USC, 75-59. A busy stretch for the Aggies culminated in a massive road win against USC. This followed a tournament title at the Legends Classic earlier in the week. With Robert Williams fully acclimated, this is a team firing on all cylinders.
- Cincinnati (6-0, LW: 7) def. Buffalo, 73-67; def. Richmond, 75-48; def. Wyoming, 78-53. It may have been a debacle of a tournament, but Cincy took care of business in the Cayman Islands, the only real challenge coming against Buffalo in the opening round. This week, they tune up with Alabama State before meeting rival Xavier on Saturday.
- Florida (5-1, LW: 9) def. Stanford, 108-87; def. Gonzaga, 111-105; lost to Duke, 84-87. Just a couple weeks into the season, Florida has already been involved in arguably the two best games of the year. Their win over Gonzaga was tremendous. Their loss to Duke, heartbreaking. The Gators will move forward with an off week, as their high-powered shooters get to rest.
- Miami (FL) (5-0, LW: 12) def. La Salle, 57-46; def. North Florida, 86-65. The Hurricanes continue to roll in the early season, though they did deal with some growing pains against La Salle. Their deep team will play in the ACC-Big Ten challenge against Minnesota in a major test. They host the HoopHall Miami Invitational and Princeton over the weekend.
- Kentucky (6-1, LW: 13) def. Troy, 70-62; def. IPFW, 86-67; def. UIC, 107-73. While they didn’t have a tournament, it was a busy week for Coach Calipari and his young Wildcats. They still aren’t as sharp as they should be, but they won all three games nonetheless. They play next on Saturday against Harvard.
- Minnesota (7-0, LW: 14) def. Alabama A&M, 100-57; def. Massachusetts, 69-51; def. Alabama, 89-84. The Golden Gophers went 3-0 on the week and are looking good just in time for their critical game in the ACC-Big Ten challenge against Miami. They also play Rutgers in an early conference game on Sunday, a scheduling quirk of the Big Ten this season.
- USC (4-1, LW: 8) def. Lehigh, 88-63; lost to Texas A&M, 59-75. Losing in your own gym is never good. Losing by double digits at home is terrible. However, it’s only November, and there’s enough talent for the Trojans that they can move past their defeat at the hands of the Aggies. A dangerous road game against SMU awaits on Saturday.
- North Carolina (5-1, LW: 11) def. Stanford, 96-72; def. Portland, 102-78; def. Arkansas, 87-68; lost to Michigan State, 45-63. A promising week ended with a sour note as Luke Maye and company were thrashed by the Spartans after impressing against Stanford and in the PK80 Victory Bracket. They’ve got three games scheduled for the upcoming week: Michigan, Davidson, and Tulane.
- Louisville (4-0, LW: 19) def. Southern Illinois, 84-42; def. St. Francis (PA), 84-72. Finally, the Cards turned in a dominant performance against SIU. A strong second half led by freshman Jordan Nwora cued the blowout. This week, they will be majorly tested. They play at Purdue in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, then host a talented Seton Hall squad on Saturday.
- Xavier (5-1, LW: 16) def. Hampton, 96-60; def. George Washington, 83-64; lost to Arizona State, 86-102. Las Vegas turned out to be not so lucky for Xavier, as hot-shooting Arizona State defeated them in the Las Vegas Invitational. For that, they tumbled a few spots. This will be a very telling week for the Musketeers as they play Baylor and crosstown rival Cincy.
- Baylor (5-0, LW: UR) def. Wisconsin, 70-65; def. Creighton, 65-59. Finally, the Bears have cracked the CPP rankings. They beat a pair of quality opponents on their way to lifting the Hall of Fame Classic trophy. This week, the challenges are even steeper. They play a pair of ranked teams; Xavier on the road, and Wichita State at home.
- Virginia (6-0, LW: UR) def. Vanderbilt, 68-42; def. Rhode Island, 70-55. The Cavaliers have not missed a beat in what was supposed to be a reloading season. Their dominant performances in New York showed the country they should still be reckoned. Games against Wisconsin and Lehigh will be their next challenges.
- Gonzaga (5-1, LW: 21) def. Ohio State, 86-59; lost to Florida, 105-111; def. Texas, 76-71. Gonzaga overall had a successful tournament in Portland, but will lament their double-overtime loss against Florida in a game they led most of the way. They blew a big lead against Texas, but held on for a win in another overtime game. On the docket, Incarnate Word and Creighton.
- Texas Tech (6-0, LW: 24) def. Wofford, 79-56; def. Savannah State, 103-69. The Red Raiders continue to impress. They go ten deep and shoot over 50 percent. Freshman Jarrett Culver led the way against Savannah State. They’ve got only one game this week, but it’s an important one: in New York against Seton Hall.
- TCU (6-0, LW: 23) def. Omaha, 99-66; def. New Mexico, 69-67; def. St. Bonaventure, 89-79. Don’t look now, but the Horned Frogs are Emerald Coast Classic champions. They’ve got an extremely deep team with a lot of weapons. If you’re looking for a Big 12 dark horse, you may not have to look much further. On the docket next are dangerous Belmont and Yale.
- Seton Hall (5-1, LW: 17) lost to Rhode Island, 74-75; def. Vanderbilt, 72-59. Kevin Willard’s side came up short against URI, but beat Vandy to clinch third place at the Preseason NIT. A major week could buoy a nice move up the rankings, or knock them out entirely. They meet Texas Tech on a neutral court and then travel to Louisville.
- West Virginia (6-1, LW: 20) def. Long Beach State, 91-62; def. Marist, 84-78; def. UCF, 83-45; def. Missouri, 83-79. Orlando was magical for the Mountaineers as they won the Advocare Invitational at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. They struggled for extended periods, particularly against Mizzou. Carter and Miles, Jr. combined for 55 against the Tigers. After the busy week, their only game this week is against NJIT.
- Arizona State (6-0, LW: UR) def. Kansas State, 92-90; def. Xavier, 102-86. Welcome to the rankings, Sun Devils! A tournament title in the Las Vegas Invitational behind Tra Holder and a filthy offense has Coach Hurley flying high. They won’t play until Saturday, when they match up with San Francisco.
- Oklahoma (4-1, LW: UR) lost to Arkansas, 83-92; def. Portland, 93-71; def. Oregon, 90-80. Trae Young netted 43 against Oregon, the highest total of any Sooner since Buddy Hield. Getting ranked is good recognition for a team expected to challenge in the Big 12. They play just once this week, against North Texas.
Dropped Out: (2) Arizona, (18) Purdue, (22) St. Mary’s, (25) Virginia Tech
Just Missed the Cut: Creighton, Alabama, UCLA, Arkansas, Virginia Tech
There’s no lull as we enter the new week. Headlined by the ACC-Big Ten challenge, more fireworks will be displayed. There are also a handful of juicy non-conference matchups, particularly over the weekend. For those of you panicking, it’s important to note that wins in November don’t count the same as wins in March and April. Going 25-0 doesn’t mean a thing if the season still ends with a loss. It’s early. There’s still time for struggling teams to get their act together before it’s too late. Be sure to check back with College Pride Press for coverage on the ACC-Big Ten challenge and much more!