A Happy New Year to all of those in the college basketball universe! Here at College Pride Press, we value the holidays and the joys they bring. That’s why the poll is coming out today instead of yesterday. Regardless, it’s clear that conference play has already brought chaos to the NCAA. Four of our top ten teams from last week took a loss. This coming week promises to bring even more pandemonium to the basketball landscape. But before we get set for that, let’s see how our writers evaluated the top twenty-five teams in the country based on last week:
- Michigan State (14-1, LW: 1) def. Cleveland State, 111-61; def. Savannah State, 108-52. We might be looking at an extended run at the top for the Spartans. Granted they’ve been playing cupcakes recently, but four straight 100-point games is still impressive. On Thursday, they meet Maryland. A road trip to Ohio State comes on Sunday.
- Duke (13-1, LW: 3) def. Florida State, 100-93. In arguably the most exciting game of the weekend, Duke outlasted the Seminoles behind a mind-boggling 32 points and 21 rebounds from Marvin Bagley. Wendell Carter also added a double-double while Grayson Allen scored 22 points. Duke plays once this week, on the road against rival NC State.
- Villanova (13-1, LW: 2) def. DePaul, 103-85; lost to Butler, 93-101. It looks like Butler is Villanova’s kryptonite; this is the third time they’ve knocked off the Wildcats over the past two years. There were signs that it was possible; giving up 85 to DePaul certainly should not have inspired confidence in ‘Nova’s defense. They’ll look to regroup against Marquette at home.
- Oklahoma (11-1, LW: 11) def. TCU, 90-89. There’s a clear frontrunner for the Naismith Award. And it’s Steph Curry/Chris Paul clone Trae Young. He had 39 AND 14 in the road win over previously undefeated TCU. Don’t sleep on the rest of this team, either; Lon Kruger’s got a lot of great pieces surrounding his star. Oklahoma State and West Virginia are up next.
- Wichita State (11-2, LW: 7) def. Connecticut, 72-62. The first test of AAC play was passed with flying colors by the Shockers. UConn hung tough for most of the game, but timely shooting and a good defensive gameplan by Coach Marshall ensured Wichita State carried the day. Next up, Houston and South Florida. Both games are at home.
- Arizona State (12-1, LW: 4) lost to Arizona, 78-84. They were the last undefeated team standing. And then there were none. In a high-level west coast clash, the Sun Devils were unable to escape Tucson unblemished. Still, there’s no reason to think they’re going to fall off. They head to the Rockies to meet Utah and Colorado.
- West Virginia (13-1, LW: 8) def. Oklahoma State, 85-79. Nine of the ten teams in the Big 12 are top fifty teams. This is a loaded league. WVU passed a tough test by picking up their road win in Stillwater. This week, they host Oklahoma in a gigantic clash on Saturday. They also knocked off Kansas State last night in a game which doesn’t count towards this week’s ranking.
- Xavier (14-1, LW: 6) def. Marquette, 91-87; def. DePaul, 77-72. Two wins coming by a combined nine points means the Musketeers dropped a couple spots, especially when considering the impressive performances other teams put up. However, there’s little doubt that Xavier has the talent to win a lot of games this year. On the docket, Butler and Providence.
- Kansas (11-2, LW: 10) def. Texas, 92-86. The Jayhawks got a nice boost last week when Silvio De Sousa finally became eligible. Though he didn’t play against the Longhorns, the shorthanded Jayhawks grinded out the win behind Devonte’ Graham and Lagerald Vick. Their quest to win another Big 12 title continues with Texas Tech and TCU, a pair of ranked foes.
- TCU (12-1, LW: 9) lost to Oklahoma, 89-90. The undefeated start sadly ended for the Horned Frogs, though their performance did nothing to diminish their stature in the eyes of our voters. And it shouldn’t have. This is an experienced team with a top-level coach. Don’t be surprised to see them win both game this week, at Baylor and home to Kansas.
- Miami (FL) (12-1, LW: 12) def. Middle Tennessee, 84-81; def. Pittsburgh, 67-53. Christmas in Hawaii proved to be stressful for the ‘Canes. They needed a combined 41 points from Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown to survive. However, they then got ACC play started on the right foot. Georgia Tech is up next, then Florida State over the weekend.
- Purdue (13-2, LW: 14) def. Lipscomb, 98-66. The Boilermakers have been a tad under the radar recently. Put them back in your elite conversations now. They’re closer to Michigan State than the rest of the Big Ten at this point. They’ll likely show that this week with home games against Rutgers and Nebraska, a pair of very beatable teams.
- Texas A&M (11-2, LW: 5) lost to Alabama, 57-79. There may not be a more improved conference than the SEC. A&M learned that firsthand, as they were trounced on the road by the Tide. Subsequently, the Aggies have dropped like a rock. They return to the friendly confines of College Station for their next slate of games against Florida and LSU.
- Arizona (11-3, LW: 18) def. Arizona State, 84-78. Whatever happened that week in the Bahamas, it seems to be clearly behind Arizona. Their stars, Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier, combined for 46 points in the rivalry win. They hit the road this week, flying to Colorado and Utah for Pac-12 games alongside travel partner Arizona State.
- Virginia (12-1, LW: 13) def. Boston College, 59-58. Virginia did not look overly convincing on their home court against perennial basement dwellers BC. However, a win is a win, and it’s clear Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy are one of the top sophomore pairings in the country. A tricky week is coming up, as the pair will lead UVA against Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
- Kentucky (11-2, LW: 16) def. Louisville, 90-61; def. Georgia, 66-61. Kentucky looked like world beaters against Louisville However, they then looked quite beatable against Georgia in Rupp Arena. Even this far into the season, it’s tough to get a good read on the Wildcats. They’re simply too young. LSU and Tennesee are next. Both games are on the road.
- North Carolina (12-2, LW: 15) def. Wake Forest, 73-69. It’s fair to worry that UNC could experience a championship hangover during the dregs of conference play. The Heels had to close on an 8-0 run to hold off the Demon Deacons. This week could tell us a lot about Coach Roy and his squad; they meet Florida State and Virginia, with both games on the road.
- Cincinnati (12-2, LW: 19) def. Memphis, 82-48. Since its inception, it’s hard to argue the American’s premiere team has not been Cincy. They got this season’s conference slate off to the right start with a blowout of the rebuilding Tigers. It gets tougher over the next stretch; they meet Temple on the road then play a talented SMU team.
- Texas Tech (12-1, LW: 20) def. Baylor, 77-53. The Red Raiders made a statement win in their Big 12 opener last week, demolishing a formerly-ranked Baylor team. Behind Keenan Evans, a deep team should challenge for the conference title all season. To get, there, everyone knows you have to go through Kansas. Tech will attempt to do just that this week.
- Seton Hall (13-2, LW: 17) def. Creighton, 90-84; def. St. John’s, 75-70. Somewhat like Xavier, the Pirates fell this week due to others and not because of poor play. Although, it’s clear the Big East will once again be a stellar league. Seton Hall plays only once this week, at Butler over the weekend.
- Gonzaga (12-3, LW: 24) def. Pacific, 81-48; def. Santa Clara, 101-52. The WCC as a whole is down a bit this year. Usually, there’s a little more to challenge the Zags than St. Mary’s and BYU. This year, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The deep Zags won’t be challenged against Pepperdine or Loyola Marymount this week, either.
- Notre Dame (11-3, LW: 21) def. Georgia Tech, 68-59. The Irish trailed at the half, at home, against a team that has lost to Grambling, Wofford, and Wright State. Behind Bonzie Colson, they then looked ridiculously good in the second half to post the win. There’s a home game with NC State to begin the week, then a hike to Syracuse for an old-Big East battle.
- Florida State (11-2, LW: NR) lost to Duke, 93-100. Despite a loss, the strong showing at Duke has put the Seminoles back in our rankings. They had a halftime lead and led intermittently during the second half, but couldn’t quite hit enough triples to pull out a win. A tough week awaits, as they match up with North Carolina and Miami.
- Tennessee (9-3, LW: NR) lost to Arkansas, 93-95. Due to the quirkiness in our voting, the Vols are back in the poll this week despite losing a tightly contested game in Fayetteville. Regardless, Tennessee has earned the benefit of the doubt due to their stellar non-conference record. A pair of tricky home games against Auburn and Kentucky are next on the docket.
- Clemson (12-1, LW: NR) def. NC State, 78-62. Our third new team this week is the only one making their first appearance in the CPP Rankings. Shout out to the Tigers for being shot out of a cannon to start the season! A loaded ACC means that every week will be difficult. This coming one is no exception, as the Tigers must travel to BC then host Louisville, who’s hungry.
Out from Last Week: (22) Baylor, (23) Louisville, (25) Creighton
Just Missed the Cut: Arkansas, SMU, Butler, Creighton, Houston
Road games are killers. This week, we’ve got a healthy number of ranked teams boarding a plane or a bus and heading to a hostile environment. Some will emerge victorious. Many will crack under the pressure. Whatever the case, you know those of us at College Pride Press will have all the best coverage! You won’t want to miss next week’s poll, either!