Every Monday throughout the College Basketball Season, I will be giving out my Top 25 teams in the country. These rankings will be based on not only wins and your team's current resume but also, how much trust and belief I have in them going forward, coaching, depth and more!
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Now to this week's rankings:
1. Duke (7-0)
We have seen the Blue Devils come prepared and ready to play in their two biggest games of the season so far against Kentucky and Duke. Freshman phenom Paolo Banchero is balling out and say what you want about Coach K but he will always have his team ready to play in a big game. Duke is the deserving No. 1 team in the country right now.
2. Gonzaga (6-1)
The Bulldogs did suffer a tough loss to Duke, however they did beat UCLA by 20 points earlier in the week and when you watch the Zags on the floor they don’t look like a team that lost three pros from a historically good squad last year. Andrew Nembahard is playing like the best point guard in the country and it felt clear we were watching the two best teams in the country in Vegas on Friday Night when Gonzaga and Duke squared off.
3. Baylor (7-0)
I have never seen a defending National Champion so underrated in the national picture like we have seen with this year's Bears. Scott Drew and company had no problems running through the Battle 4 Atlantis and are only getting better.
4. Purdue (6-0)
The balanced attack of the Boilers has been very fun to watch as they currently have 4 players averaging double digit points per game. Matt Painter’s team looks to be the clear best team in the B1G right now with Michigan and Illinois getting off to rather slow starts considering the expectations.
5. Kansas (4-1)
The loss that the Jayhawks suffered to Dayton will go down as one of the more surprising upsets we have seen all of season. Kansas followed the loss to Dayton by defeating Rick Pitino and Iona by 13. The key for the Jayhawks going forward will be can Bill Self turn Remy Martin into that winning player? He wasn’t one for Arizona State.
6. Kentucky (5-1)
This past week the Wildcats picked up blowout victories over Albany and North Florida. The number of pieces this Kentucky team has still makes me feel very optimistic about their future. Oscar Tshiebwe is averaging a whopping 15.8 rebounds per game, making him one of, if not the best, pure rebounders in the country. Combine that with freshman TyTy Washington scoring in double digits in every game since the opener against Duke and Kentucky will be in business.
7. UCLA (6-1)
Getting run out of the gym by Gonzaga wasn’t ideal but the Bruins still have their marquee victory over Villanova and a group that has recovered from many tough losses before. There are still plenty of people that think these Bruins are the same team that was an 11 seed and won a few games in lucky fashion but they’re certainly better than that and will be even better when Cody Riley returns to the lineup.
8. Villanova (3-2)
The Wildcats are going to really regret blowing two late second half leads to UCLA and Purdue, but in those losses, there have been some really good signs shown from their top six guys. The problem is that in order to win basketball games on a consistent basis you need depth and Villanova doesn’t have that. It has cost them those 2 games and considering how good the Big East is currently looking, more tough, close losses may be on the horizon.
9. Texas (4-1)
The Longhorns have been out of the news for the most part since their early loss to Gonzaga but we all knew what the deal was with these guys going into the season. As great of a coach as Chris Beard is, not even he can have a roster full of guys that have never played together all on the same page and knowing their roles from Day 1. I fully expect Texas to be one of the better teams in the sport by the time we get to March it is just going to take some time.
10. Arizona (5-0)
Arizona passed the eye test with flying colors last week when they blew out a very good Michigan team. Tommy Lloyd has taken advantage of some of the key pieces that Sean Miller left him in Tucson and it is refreshing to see a Wildcats team run such a fluid and crisp offense considering the amount of talent that they have. Ben Mathurin looks like a lottery pick and remember the name Kerr Kriisa. You will never want to play against him again after watching him.
11. Florida (5-0)
Mike White has done one of the better coaching jobs in all of College Basketball to start off this season as he finally has found himself a team that is willing to play defense on a night in, night out basis. Recruiting veterans like Myreon Jones, Brandon McKissic and Philandrous Flemming in the transfer portal over some of the 5-star prospects might have just been what White has been missing in Gainesville for the past few years. The Gators have already picked up victories over Florida State and Ohio State on Wednesday thanks to another transfer who is in his second year in the Florida Program Tyree Appleby buzzer beater.
12. Alabama (5-1)
Alabama prebounded from their first loss of the season on Thanksgiving Day to Iona, however I still buy Nate Oats the Tide as a real contender in the SEC going forward. Alabama responded to the loss by picking up back-to-back wins over Drake and a blowout win over Miami. Not many teams in college basketball have a trio of guards as good as Jayden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis. Plus, Darius Miles is only getting better and better in the frontcourt which is a great sign. Gonzaga awaits on Saturday.
13. UConn (6-1)
I was so impressed with the Huskies week in Atlantis even in their loss to Michigan State considering the circumstances. UConn had just beaten a really good Auburn team in double overtime and less than 24 hours later he was a bad foul call away from beating Michigan State when the Huskies were clearly gassed. Danny Hurley has his deepest and most talented roster as a head coach and he has always been a guy who has been able to take advantage of that good talent. Remember the name Jordan Hawkins…. He is a pro.
14. Houston (5-1)
The Cougars did pick up their first loss of the season while in Vegas for the Maui Invitational against Wisconsin. However, after trailing 13-0 to start the game, really getting outplayed by Wisconsin for the majority of the game, and despite Badgers star sophomore Johnny Davis dropping 30 points, the Cougs still had the ball down two with 10 seconds left. They failed to connect on the final possession which gave the Badgers the victory. While factoring this team's track record and ability to show toughness on a consistent basis, Houston is one of the best 15 teams in College Basketball.
15. BYU (6-0)
There is something I love about veteran teams that just show up to the arena each and every night expecting to beat their opponent and do it with such ease. That is exactly what this BYU team has been doing to start the season as they have already picked up two Pac 12 wins over Oregon and Utah neither of which came at home. Mark Pope is one of the most underrated coaches in the sport, while Alex Barcello is one of the most underrated players in the sport. Two studs.
16. Arkansas (6-0)
The Hogs have won every game they have played so far which is a great start to their season, however their best win is over a Cincinnati team that just lost to Monmouth. I fully expect any team that is coached by Eric Mussleman to look good and all be on the same page when we get to March, however right now there are some issues Arkansas needs to address. The loss of Jalen Tate as this team's pass first guard that would set others up for good shots is hurting right now as Chris Lykes and JD Notae are more scoring guards then point guards. Arkansas has the talent and coaching to be one of the better SEC teams as the season goes on and have done a nice job taking care of business so far against a less than ideal schedule.
17. Auburn (5-1)
The SEC has seven teams ranked in my Top 25 more than any other conference in college basketball and Auburn has a lot to with it. These Tigers had a tough loss against a good UConn team in their first game of The Battle 4 Atlantis, however we know Auburn is missing starting Point Guard Allen Flannigan and in this game they simply refused to go away but just ran out of gas in Double Overtime. Georgia transfer KD Johnson showed he could be a go to scoring guard on a good team and Jabari Smith is looking like a lock top 3 pick.
18. Indiana (6-0)
While most of the country was watching college football on Saturday Indiana Forward Trayce Jackson- Davis dropped 43 points in Indiana’s win over Marshall. Jackson-Davis is the best player in the Big Ten right now and Indiana’s offense has looked great so far this season running through him. First year Head Coach Mike Woodson has done such a good job having these Hoosiers ready to play and defending hard every time they take the floor and they have already won a handful of games this year that they simply have not been winning for the past handful of years.
19. Seton Hall (5-1)
Even in a tough loss to Ohio State this week I was really impressed with the Pirates depth and ability to respond to adversity. About midway through the first half against the Buckeyes, senior guard Myles Cale left with an injury and at the time Seton Hall had a five-point lead. For most of the game the Pirates we’re trailing but so many guys including Jahmir Harris, Bryce Aiken, Jared Rhoden and others made key contributions on both sides of the ball to almost steal a win for the Pirates They ended up losing on a clutch three point shot by Ohio State’s Meechie Johnson but we also saw what this team looks like on the road against Michigan at full-strength. This is a tough, deep, well coached team that you can never count out.
20. LSU (7-0)
LSU has been one of the more underrated programs in college basketball over the past 3-4 years, but all Will Wade does is win games. The Tigers looked impressive this past weekend while taking home the Emerald Coast Classic Trophy with victories over Penn State and Wake Forest in the championship game. Four different players had double digits for the Tigers in the Championship game victory including 5-star Freshman Efton Reid, Darius Days, Eric Gaines and Alex Fudge.
21. Michigan (4-2)
I still respect Juwuan Howard and the talent of this team enough to rank them despite the tough start to the season. While watching Michigan right now you can tell the lack of a true Point Guard is really hurting as Coastal Carolina transfer Devante Jones has looked overwhelmed at times with his decision making. Even with Hunter Dickinson back the Wolverines did lose a lot from last year's Elite Eight and need to find a way to replace that production.
22. Tennessee (4-1)
The Vols did look good in their win over North Carolina last week but looked very bad in their loss against Villanova last week. Going forward, playing some of the younger guys like Brandon Huntley- Hatfield and Zachai Ziegler over some more experienced players might be the move for Rick Barnes because they were both key factors in the Vols win over UNC and provided much needed play which just was not there against Villanova. With a point guard like Kennedy Chandler, you need as much spacing and shooting as possible and I think Rick Barnes has the personnel to find the right mix.
23. Memphis (5-1)
Memphis did not look particularly great in either of their two games at Barclays Center this past Weekend in the Preseason NIT. The lack of a lead playmaking guard was evident from the jump and Penny Hardaway was running a high school style iso offense. The bottom line is that this is something that will not work in College Basketball. The only thing keeping the Tigers ranked is their elite defense and there is enough talent on this team to get rolling as the season goes on but it’s not feeling too great to start off a season that was highly anticipated.
24. USC (6-0)
The Trojans are a team that America doesn’t realize how good they are just yet. Andy Enfield returns everyone besides Evan Mobley and Tajh Eaddy from last year's Elite Eight team and when you factor in the addition of Memphis Transfer Boogie Ellis running the show, these Trojans are a fun watch. USC took home the Wooden Legacy Championship this past weekend by holding San Diego State to only 15 points in the first half.
25. Texas Tech (6-0)
The Red Raiders have had by far the easiest schedule to start the season off anyone in these rankings but they have looked really impressive in all six of their wins and the schedule becomes tougher quickly as their next 3 games will be at Providence, and Tennessee + Gonzaga on neutral courts. It helps immensely to have Terrance Shannon Jr. back after the Red Raiders were concerned about his eligibility after almost declaring for the NBA Draft last year. Kevin McCullar looks healthy despite battling illness.
Follow Zac on Twitter @ZKrull
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