College Basketball Power Rankings: The Big East is rising and so is Kentucky
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!
Before we start, it is obvious that the main story throughout not only college basketball but the entire sports world is COVID-19 outbreaks leading to many games being canceled throughout the last week. Not only does this make doing these rankings a tad harder than usual but also it can alter opportunities and ultimately, NCAA Tournament resumes. With the NFL loosening their policies, the hope is for college basketball to ultimately follow. One thing remains clear if we stick to the current protocols testing vaccinated asymptomatic players then it will not be impossible to play a whole season of college hoops. Something needs to change and quickly.
Here are last week's rankings.
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1. Baylor (10-0)
For the third week in a row the defending National Champions check in at No.1 in this poll after they picked up a 78-70 road win over Oregon on Saturday. When you look at Oregon’s record and see 6-6 most would expect Baylor to blow out Oregon. But Dana Altman's teams are known for getting off to slow starts before eventually turning it on. Even though it was a close game throughout, I was impressed with Baylor’s ability to match a very desperate Oregon team who has plenty of talent. After Oregon led 39-35 at the half, the Bears led by Adam Flagler and Kendall Brown were able to take the game over. Flagler was a key part of last year's National Champion team, and we saw why against Oregon as he had 16 points in 36 minutes including going 5/7 from three. Point guard James Akinjo has been red hot of late, while leading the way for the Bears, with 17 points against Oregon and 16 points against Villanova. The knock on Akinjo has always been that he is not a “winning” player. However, I trust Scott Drew to get the most out of his point guard and it seems to be working.
2. Duke (10-1)
The Blue Devils are now 3-0 since their first and only loss of the season so far against Ohio State on November 30th. Even though the wins have been against South Carolina State, Appalachian State and Elon, each of the three wins have come by at least 25 points. In the loss against Ohio State, the glaring issue for Duke was that they only had about six good players contributing and not a lot of offense coming off the bench. This is especially important because, while star freshman Paolo Banchero has been very good, he has also left games against both Duke and Gonzaga with cramps, and Duke just needs firepower alongside Banchero to hit the ultimate ceiling of this team come March. Junior forward Wendell Moore, looks like one of the more improved players in the country while averaging 16.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and five assists per game, and he and Banchero has quickly evolved into one of the best one-two punches in the sport. Five-star freshman AJ Griffin who suffered a knee injury in October is getting healthier and looks more and more comfortable. On Saturday, in the win against Elon, Griffin had five points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of gametime which is a great sign going forward.
3. Arizona (11-0)
Arizona was able to pick up victories over Northern Colorado and California Baptist, as they get set for a difficult stretch to end the new year going to Tennessee, UCLA and USC in consecutive games starting on December 22nd (obviously as things stand, both the UCLA and USC games are in jeopardy). Against Cal Baptist, Arizona got off to a little bit of a slow start as at one point in the first half they trailed 18-7. Getting off to bad starts happens to every basketball team a handful of times throughout the season and what ultimately matters is your ability to bounce back after. Arizona was able to end the first half on a 33-15 run and never looked back after that. That isn’t the first time Arizona has been able to show the ability to win a game where not everything was necessarily going their way. Just last Saturday, the Wildcats gave up a 19-2 run to Illinois, blew a nine-point lead and were still able to leave Champaign with a victory. It remains one of the best victories on anyone's resume during the non-conference slate.
4. Gonzaga (9-2)
Mark Few never shies away from a big game early and come March it may really come in handy for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga has now played games against Texas, UCLA, Duke, Alabama and Texas Tech since the season started. Not only are all 5 of those teams going to play in the NCAA Tournament but they all are somewhat different in terms of style of play and will almost simulate a possible path to a National Championship for a Bulldogs team that hasn’t been able to get over the hump. Even though last year at this time, Gonzaga had zero losses and right now they have two, I feel a little better about Gonzaga now compared to a season ago. There are many other good teams at the top of the sport with Gonzaga, so the pressure will be off them a little bit and the casual college basketball fans will say “Gonzaga plays in a bad conference they will never win a championship.” In reality, that pressure being off the Bulldogs and experience in close games against good teams will suite very well come March for the Bulldogs. When you shoot 43 percent from the field and 42 percent from three against an elite Texas Tech defense that is an eye opener.
5. Purdue (10-1)
Having two big men like Trevion Williams and Zach Edey is a luxury, because not only do you have two very good bigs but you can also mix and match with them based on who matches up with your opponent best. With that being said, over the past few weeks Trevion Williams has shown that not only does he need to be the featured guy in this Boilermakers front court but maybe even the featured guy on the team to get a bucket when his team needs it most. That is exactly what Matt Painter did down the stretch against Rutgers and NC State and it paid off both times. This week, Purdue was able to pick up a blowout 77-48 win over Butler on Saturday as the Boilermakers outrebounded Butler 40-24 while Williams and Edey combined for 24 points and 17 rebounds. The Boilers have cooled off a bit after getting off to a start that was better than anyone could have asked for. However, they look to be the clear best team in the Big Ten and right in the conversation of the top of these rankings with the combination of talent, experience and good coaching.
6. Kansas (9-1)
After dominating in state rival Missouri last week, the Jayhawks actually played a tightly contested game against a very good Stephen F Austin team. Kansas ultimately got the victory by a score of 80-72 after Arizona State transfer Remy Martin hit a 3-pointer with one minute left which gave the Jayhawks a six-point lead and they never looked back from there. This is very encouraging for Kansas, as Martin was one of the most heralded transfers in college basketball this past offseason. The hope going into the season was for Remy to play a little more unselfish considering the amount of talent he has around him. While he is averaging 12.7 points and 4.0 assists per game and playing much more unselfishly than he did at Arizona State, many Jayhawks fans have wanted Martin to make a little bit more of an impact. In basketball, stats aren’t everything as making an impact that ultimately leads your team to victory is much more important. That is exactly what we saw on Saturday when Bill Self needed it most. Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun have been leading the way for Kansas to start the season, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Remy jump into that conversation soon.
7. UCLA (9-1)
There isn’t a top-notch team in college basketball that gets spoken about less than Mick Cronin’s Bruins. While it may be surprising considering that UCLA is considered a “blue blood” to college hoops fans and this team returned everyone who had a significant role on last year's team that went all the way to the Final Four but it’s true. It seems like America completely wrote UCLA off after their only loss of the season came to Gonzaga. The Bulldogs did blow out UCLA in that one and sometimes I do understand the narrative of “Just because you make the Final Four as an 11 seed that doesn’t automatically make you an elite team the next year if you return everyone.” While sometimes that statement is true, it’s not with this version of the Bruins. UCLA’s personnel fits together very nicely with a great facilitator in Tyger Campbell, a pure scorer in Johnny Juzang and great versatile player with size in Jamie Jacquez that could be UCLA’s most important player based on impact and everything he does on both sides of the floor. The Bruins also were a Jalen Suggs buzzer beater away from beating an all-time great Gonzaga team and getting to the National Championship game. The Bruins have started off this season 9-1 and that is without big man Cody Riley who was a key piece from last year's team, starting at the 5 and providing a big physical presence. Riley may return for UCLA’s next scheduled game on December 30th against Arizona. However, everything is at a little bit of a halt at the moment as UCLA is currently facing COVID-19 problems within the program, which caused them to miss back-to-back games this week, including one against Ohio State. With Riley back, the Bruins can compete with anyone in the sport.
8. Alabama (9-2)
It wasn’t the best week for the Crimson Tide after they lost their second game of the season on Tuesday night at Memphis. Despite Memphis struggling mightily to start the season, the result in this one wasn’t necessarily shocking to me. Memphis was a team playing desperately from start to finish. Memphis instantly became better when 5-star Freshman Emoni Bates was off the floor and frankly we saw Memphis hit a gear against Alabama that we haven’t seen all season. What was a little bit concerning for Alabama was their game against Jacksonville State on Saturday. Even though they left with a 65-59 win and Keon Ellis looked like a first-round pick with 20 points and 10 rebounds, the game was too close for comfort throughout. Jaden Shackelford, who was lighting up the scoreboard in Alabama’s marquee wins over Gonzaga and Memphis, was held to zero points and 0/5 from three in the contest. If Shackelford is shut out on the offensive end it’s going to be difficult for Alabama to beat some of the better teams in the SEC. We saw Rick Pitino use the game plan of limiting Alabama’s number of three-point shots taken, and shutting down one of their best weapons, shooting the ball can’t hurt either.
9. Auburn (10-1)
Similar to Baylor, just because you don’t blow out your opponent that doesn’t mean a win isn’t impressive. Anyone who has watched college basketball long enough will know that there are so many good teams and when travel and injuries are factored in, sometimes you can lose games you really aren't supposed to. That is why Auburn deserves credit for going into Chaifetz Arena and leaving with a true road victory over Saint Louis. Saint Louis was up 60-47 with 9:13 to go in the second half, but Auburn responded with a 27-10 run to earn their seventh straight victory. Saint Louis is looking like one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10 and Auburn showing they can come back from a 13-point second half deficit on the road is really impressive. Georgia transfer, KD Johnson is looking like one of the best transfer portal pickups of the offseason so far as he hit the eventual game winning jumper with nine seconds remaining. Johnson is also averaging 14.8 points per game while shooting 40 percent from the field. Walker Kessler, who was the transfer the majority of Auburn fans were the most excited about, had 19 points and 9 rebounds. Combine those two transfers with the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in Jabari Smith, a bevy of guards who can score, Allen Flannigan getting closer to returning and a really good coach in Bruce Pearl and Auburn maybe the front runners to win the SEC.
10. Houston (10-2)
Houston picked up a nice victory on Saturday over Oklahoma State to improve their record to 10-2 just a year after making it to the Final Four. We can all agree that Houston will come ready to compete on a night-in night out basis and are a group of tough guys who aren’t afraid of anyone or anything. However, Houston has had some unfortunate luck so far this season as their wins that may have looked good at one point may have aged particularly well. Kelvin Sampson’s team has picked up wins over Virginia, Butler, Oregon and Oklahoma State. When you hear the names of those programs many would assume that those are very good wins that move the needle from the Cougars. Unfortunately, the argument could be made that all four of those teams have underachieved to start the season and won’t necessarily help the Cougars seeding come Selection Sunday. There is no doubt, Houston should be able to win the AAC and will be competing for a chance to go to back-to-back Final 4’s, but when you play in a conference like the American where you're not going to have as many chances for marquee wins compared to other Power 6 teams. Memphis has been learning that hard over the past few years. Houston is a top 10 team based on the eye test, depth and everything Kelvin Sampson has done since he arrived, but at the end of the day hopefully their resume doesn’t say otherwise.
11. Seton Hall (9-2)
In what was an unfair move, Seton Hall was actually credited with a loss in what was supposed to be their Big East Conference opener on Monday Night against St. Johns. The contest was ruled a Seton Hall forfeit by the Big East Conference due to the fact that Seton Hall was dealing with COVID-19 issues within the program. Even though the game resulted in a loss being added to Seton Hall’s official record, it won’t be factored into these rankings because the game was never played, and if it was, I believe the Pirates would have won. Very few teams in the country, have better depth than the Pirates as they lost big man IK Obiagu, just 5 minutes into their win against Texas last week, and lead guard Kadary Richmond was rather quiet only scoring five points, but was able to bounce back nicely in the Pirates rivalry game win over Rutgers. This is a team that already lost Myles Cale who is extremely valuable, for a few games still all they do is win. Kevin Willard is going to be at the top of many other teams coaching target lists and Jared Rhoden has a chance to win Big East Conference player of the year. The Big East might be the best conference in college basketball this season and it’s about time we start recognizing these Pirates who might just be the best team in the league.
12. Ohio State (8-2)
It was very unfortunate that we were not able to see Ohio State take on Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas due to COVID-19 issues within the Ohio State program. Considering the Buckeyes have clearly gotten better from the start off the season compared to
now and the early loss of Justice Sueing this Ohio State team is overachieving. No one should be surprised by this as this, as all that Chris Holtman has done since arriving in Columbus is get victories. Holtmann is really starting to find the right mix of players to make it all work after the loss of Sueing. Sophomore big man Zed Key is taking a huge leap forward, while being No. 2 on the Buckeyes in scoring, averaging 10.4 points per game while shooting 62 percent from the field. Junior, EJ Liddell may have a case for the Wooden Award by the time the season is up and is only getting better. The Buckeyes have seven players who are playing over 20 minutes per game and that doesn’t include Louisiana Lafayette transfer Cedric Russell who was key in the victory over Duke making clutch shot after clutch shot. The Big 10 hasn’t been bad as a league but also hasn’t been as good as many expected at the start of the season which leaves the door wide open for the Buckeyes.
13. Xavier (11-1)
The more I look at the depth this Xavier team has it is really starting to remind me of the depth that Travis Steele’s former boss Chris Mack had during his time at Xavier when he led the Musketeers to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, an Elite Eight and a Big East title in a three-year span. What made those Musketeers teams special was that on any night, any one of their nine players had a chance to go off and contribute. This team has a great lead guard in Colby Jones, two really good scoring options from the perimeter in Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson, a deep front court containing Zach Freemantle, Jack Nunge, Deionte Miles, and Jerome Hunter plus a really good shooter in Adam Kunkel. This team has everything Travis Steele can ask for and even in a tough Big East there is no reason for them not to be one of the better teams in the league. Xavier was also able to respond nicely after facing adversity in their Big East Conference opener against a spunky Marquette team. After trailing by eight in the first half, Xavier was able to come away with the victory. Seton Hall has been the Big East’s most impressive team so far, but Xavier is not far behind.
14. LSU (11-0)
All you need to know about the LSU Tigers is that Tari Eason, the Tigers leading scorer while averaging about 16 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game is the team's seventh man, and comes off the bench. That is how much depth and firepower Will Wade’s team has and after going 11-0 to start off their non-conference slate, there is no reason for any LSU not to believe this team has a chance to do some really special things in the SEC. LSU trailed in-state rival Louisiana Tech by eight points after the first half on Saturday, but were able to respond by outsourcing Louisiana Tech 39-22 in the second half. Eason had 14 points in the second half and has now scored double digit points in nine of his last 10 games. Many people have been skeptical of Will Wade as a coach, throughout the past few years as his name has been in some controversy. However, at the end of the day it needs to be acknowledged that all he does is win basketball games. There have been many coaches throughout college basketball in recent years that have had plenty of talent but are never able to take advantage of it and win. Will Wade is not in that category as he has now won 18+ games in each of his first four seasons. No one can deny that this guy can win basketball games and considering this team has 6 guys averaging 10+ points per game the sky's the limit.
15. Providence (11-1)
The argument can be made that there wasn’t a team in college basketball that had a more impressive win over the past week than Ed Cooley’s Friars. Providence opened up their Big East conference season by going into UConn and leaving with a hard fought 57-53 win over Connecticut. Many noticed the nice start off the season for the Friars as they went into Wisconsin and beat the Badgers (without Johnny Davis) and picked up a nice home win over Texas Tech. Providence came very close to making last week's Top 25 but we’re just missing that one statement win. By going on the road and beating up a quality UConn team they not only got the statement win but they sent a message in the process. Providence was able to hold UConn to 31 percent shooting from the floor and really left the Huskies frustrated. The Big East has been recognized as one of the best conferences in the country this season - and the Friars can absolutely be one of the better teams in the best conference in the country which says a lot about Ed Cooley’s team.
16. Kentucky (8-2)
The concerning thing about Kentucky’s loss to Notre Dame last Saturday, was that even though a lot of the players were different, it did look entirely similar to the games that we got used to seeing Kentucky lose on a consistent basis during their nightmare 2020 campaign. Flash forward to Saturday against North Carolina at the CBS Sports Classic and we saw a different basketball team. This is usually around the time of year when John Calipari leads his team to a victory that not many expect. Even with Kentucky closing at tip off as a 3-point favorite, I don’t think anyone was expecting what we saw from the Wildcats. 98 points on 54 percent from the field, 8 of 15 from three and a blowout victory. Sahvir Wheeler led the way with 26 points and eight assists in which was by far his best game as a Wildcat Kellen Grady added 18 points while making 5 threes in the process. The spacing we saw from the Wildcats around Oscar Tshiebwe should make the other teams in the SEC frightened, if UK can continue to play that. Kentucky knew whether it was against Ohio State or North Carolina they had to leave Las Vegas with a marquee win because they haven't been able to get one up to this point. Kentucky’s confidence should be high going into their rivalry game Wednesday night against Louisville.
17. Colorado State (10-0)
Niko Medved’s club was unfortunately among the many across the country that were shut down due to COVID-19 issues within the program. It is a huge bummer that the Rams game against Alabama that was scheduled for Tuesday December 22nd had to be canceled along with the Rams scheduled game for this past weekend against Tulsa. Luckily, Colorado State was able to pick up some quality wins before this shutdown over the likes of Mississippi State, Saint Mary's and Creighton. While playing in the Mountain West, there aren’t going to be a ton of games playing against teams that are good bets to make the NCAA Tournament so those wins can become very valuable for the Rams as we get closer and closer to March. The Rams have really good depth, by playing nine different players on average double-digit minutes per game. Led by Mountain West Player of The Year Candidate David Roddy, the Rams are one of the only teams if not the only team in their conference with a real chance of getting an at-large bid and are good enough to do some serious damage throughout the season.
18. USC (12-0)
Compared to a lot of other Top 25 polls this is pretty low for the Trojans, don’t think that I’m not a huge fan of Andy Enfield and everything he has done since he got to Los Angeles. Just a season after leading the Trojans to their first Elite Eight since 2001, Enfield inked a three-year contract extension with USC last week. Considering what the program looked like when he first arrived and USC being a school that focuses primarily on football, USC is on their way to making their fourth NCAA Tournament in the past six seasons, which doesn’t include the canceled 2020 NCAA Tournament which USC was going to qualify for. USC has been getting some significant contributions from Drew Peterson, a former transfer from Rice who has become a heck of a player for Andy Enfield averaging 10.6 points per game and it seems like every important play Peterson makes has a significant impact on the game. The Trojans were able to control their contest against Georgia Tech on Saturday from start to finish and will be right up there in the conversation at the top of the Pac 12 alongside Arizona and UCLA. Unfortunately, USC’s game scheduled for Tuesday against Oklahoma State was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the USC program so hopefully USC will be back on the court as soon as possible. They are supposed to host No. 2 Arizona shortly after the New Year.
19. Iowa State (11-0)
Sunday’s 77-54 victory over Southeast Louisiana was the only action for TJ Otzelberger’s club over the past week which improved the Cyclones record to 11-0 just a season after finishing 2-22 overall and 0-18 in the Big 12. Many times, the Coach of The Year award can be a little misleading due to the fact that a majority of the time it was based on other expectations for the team going into the season and who overachieved. However, that is not the case when it comes to TJ Otzelberger and the coaching job he has done with this group to start off the season. Even when your team hires a new coach and has a bunch of new players coming into the program, it is very hard to completely get rid of all of the damage and bad energy that was left from the previous staff. TJ Otzelberger has had no problem doing that, as the team he built composed of players he hand-picked from the transfer portal, and along with freshman point guard Tyrese Hunter they've gotten the job done. We have seen how many programs that were good last year and built teams with a ton of new faces have really struggled especially when it comes to getting their new players clear with a role. Izaiah Brockington can score the ball, Gabe Kalsheur can shoot the heck out of it, Tristan Enruna provides some good size alongside George Conditt and can stretch the floor, plus even Washington State transfer Aljaz Kunc has found a role as a glue guy role off the bench. When a first-year coach has his team this organized, in such a short amount of time, he deserves all the props. TJ Otzelberger is the clear-cut favorite for National Coach of the Year as we wrap up the non-conference slate.
20. Texas Tech (8-2)
Mark Adams' Red Raiders did suffer their second loss of the season on Saturday in Phoenix. Texas Tech was shorthanded from the start, as future NBA player and leading scorer Terrance Shannon Jr. did not play due to a back issue. The Red Raiders did have some experience playing without Shannon as he missed a portion of the season in November and even though Texas Tech didn’t lose without him in the lineup then when you're trying to beat one of the best teams in College Basketball in Gonzaga you need to be able to score the ball and that is much more difficult to do without a guy like Shannon. The frustrating part of the game was that early on it seemed like the Red Raiders were getting better looks than Gonzaga but flat out just couldn’t convert on the offensive end. Even with an elite defense, Texas Tech unfortunately fell 69-55, as Gonzaga shot 43 percent from the field and 42 percent from three. Long-term this Texas Tech defense run by a guru like Adams will keep them in a lot of close games but ultimately their ceiling will depend on Terrance Shannon Jr. being in the lineup and making plays along with Kevin McCullar. McCullar has always been a player that has popped off the TV screen and it’s clear he is the key to this team going forward. When he is not running the point smoothly and setting up others that’s when this Red Raider offense tends to struggle. McCullar did have 14 points and 10 assists against Gonzaga but every time the Bulldogs needed a play, they got one and unfortunately when a guy like Shannon is out that is when you needed McCullar to shine the most and he was good but not great. The vibe Mark Adams has going with this group is noticeable and the chemistry is off the charts.
21. Michigan State (9-2)
Tom Izzo’s Spartans had the week off as planned and will be back in action against Oakland on Tuesday. Prior to their week off, Michigan State was able to start 2-0 in Big Ten Conference play including a road win at Minnesota, which is one of the more surprising teams in college basketball to start off the season. The good news if you’re a Spartan fan is that even though Max Christie - who many expected to be the go to guy and a possible NBA lottery pick in the preseason - has struggled and is only averaging eight points per game, Michigan State is still winning the games they’re suppose to and have already improved as a team since the start of the season. Tyson Walker, who transferred from Northeastern, struggled with the speed and intensity of Power 6 competition just like many other guards who have transferred up in years past. However, since Michigan State’s win over Loyola Chicago in the Bahamas, when Walker set up Marcus Bingham with the game winning alley-oop Michigan State has looked like a different team. With teams like Michigan, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Rutgers struggling at times to start the season in the Big Ten a team like the Spartans can definitely take advantage.
22. UConn (9-3)
The Huskies dropped their third game of the season to Providence at home on Saturday, to open up Big East play. Although the day didn’t go too well for Husky fans one positive was Tyrese Martin returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games with a wrist injury and was able to provide 15 points and 5 rebounds. UConn still desperately misses big man Adama Sanogo who is still sidelined with an abdominal injury but should hopefully be back soon as he’s been questionable for the last handful of games. Danny Hurley’s team was able to pick up two marquee wins during the non-conference slate over Auburn and St. Bonaventure but the two losses against West Virginia and Providence are still pretty frustrating considering they had a real chance in both games even with the injuries. UConn still has the depth and coaching to be one of the better teams in the Big East but with the conference being better than anyone could have expected the question is can UConn live up to the hype and finish as one of the two or three best teams in the league?
23. Villanova (7-4)
It’s odd to see that Villanova has now lost four games before Christmas but after the Wildcats went down to Creighton on Friday Night to open up Big East play my concerns for Villanova have officially kicked in and heavily. Villanova didn't only lose to Creighton but they got blown out by a final score of 79-59 and were outplayed by the Blue Jays from start to finish. Every road conference game in a league like the Big East is going to be difficult even for a team like Villanova who has dominated the conference since realignment, but getting thoroughly outplayed by a Creighton team that was fresh off a home loss to Arizona State isn’t a great sign. What is even more concerning about Villanova is that this blowout loss is coming right after they were held to 36 points against Baylor and shot 13-50 in a win over Syracuse in the Jimmy V Classic. What makes the start to the season so frustrating if you're Villanova, is that you were so close to picking up wins against Top 10 teams in UCLA and Purdue but ran out of gas late both times and fell apart. When you’re playing in a league like the Big East you need contributions on a consistent basis from more than six guys, and right now the Wildcats only have six. The lack of depth in the league like the Big East is concerning but that is what has also made Jay Wright’s teams so great over the past few years. They know his system inside and out and know exactly what to do at all times. The Wildcats host Xavier on Tuesday night which will be must-see TV and the Pavillion should be electric for a desperate Villanova team that will need the game to gain some confidence.
24. Texas (8-2)
The Longhorns were able to pick up their first win against a Power 6 opponent of the season on Sunday, as they beat Stanford 60-53 in Las Vegas. Even though the Longhorns have been very disappointing in their two biggest games against Gonzaga and Seton Hall, they have been able to win all of their other games against opponents they should be beating, but not losing any bye games in today’s college basketball is so key. Vanderbilt transfer Dylan Disu, who didn’t play in losses Gonzaga or Seton Hall is finally back, and made his presence known with 11 points in only 16 minutes of action against Stanford. Having a guy with size who can create his own shot from the perimeter will be very important for Chris Beard's squad. One concern about Texas that might be popping up is their point guard situation - as Kentucky transfer Devin Askew got the starting nod over Marcus Carr on Sunday. When you compare these two players that doesn’t really make much sense, so you wonder what possibly could've led to the situation. Hopefully Chris Beard knows what he is doing, but it’s decisions like that and the feeling that Texas might just have too many guys, and are still struggling to figure out rotations that prevents me from putting them higher in these rankings.
25. Illinois (8-3)
After losing a heartbreaker to Arizona last week, Illinois was able to come out victorious over St. Francis (PA) and it wasn't close. Illinois won 106-48 and made a program record 18 three pointers in the process. Statistics like that are why Illinois deserves to be ranked, even though they have already suffered 3 losses and their best win is over Iowa. There is not a more dynamic shooting backcourt in college basketball than Trent Frazier and Alfonso Plummer and when you combine that with a dominant big man in Kofi Cockburn there is no reason why the Illini shouldn't be really good in the Big 10. Even though the Illini lost an NBA player in Ayo Dosunmu, he was really their only option in a close game down the stretch last year as the best closer in College Basketball. However, this year with Trent Frazier playing the best basketball of his 5-year career at Illinois and Alonfso Plummer making shots from Mars, Illinois is Purdue’s biggest long-term threat to win the Big Ten.
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