Power Rankings: Purdue remains No. 1, but Texas is on rise

You know at least one guy who has to fill out multiple brackets every March Madness. In the past, it may have produced a roll of the eyes. Why can’t he just have a support he’s committed to? Why does he have Duke losing in the second round in one projection, and winning it all in another?

This year, though, I can’t blame anyone for writing multiple brackets, because the possibility of at least one of them getting burned by the end of the first day of the NCAA Tournament is strong.

We’re still five weeks away from Selection Sunday, but I can say with confidence that this is as wide a field in college basketball as I can remember. We are dealing with epic levels of unpredictability and there is no truly dominant team. Over the last week, 15 of the 25 teams in the AP poll lost at least once. The fact is, the gap is as close as it’s ever been from the perceived top of the sport to the middle.

This was the trickiest batch of power rankings we’ve done, and we open with a rarity this week: no move to the top despite the loss!

1. Purdue (22-2)

No, I’m not knocking the Boilermakers for losing a rivalry game in one of college basketball’s most hostile environments, the Auditorium. Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith shot a combined 5-for-20, and Purdue gave up 50 in the first half, but rallied to cut Indiana’s lead to one before losing by just five in Bloomington. To be up one with two minutes to go after being down 15 at halftime was impressive. We learned as much, if not more, about Purdue in this loss as we did in several of their wins.

2. Alabama (20-3)

The Crimson Tide responded in a big way after the loss at Oklahoma last Saturday, beating Vanderbilt 101-44 (sorry commodores) on Tuesday before beating LSU on Saturday, 79-69. Nate Oats’ team is 10-0 in SEC play. Nine of those wins have come by double figures.

3. Houston (22-2)

The Cougars got revenge on Temple on Sunday night in Philadelphia, avenging a one-point loss to the Owls 14 nights ago with an 81-65 loss. Five-star freshman Jarace Walker led four in double figures with 23 points and six rebounds. The potential NBA Draft lottery pick is averaging 20 points per game over his last four contests.

4. Arizona (21-3)

The Wildcats have Player of the Week and a First Team All-American candidate in Azuolas Tubelis. The 6-foot-11 big man from Lithuania had 40 points and nine rebounds in Thursday’s win over Oregon. He shot 16 of 21 from the floor. He followed that up with a modest 19 and 8 in a 32-point rout of Oregon State on Saturday.

5. Texas (19-4)

Following up a five-point win over a Baylor team that’s really coming on with a 69-66 win at Kansas State on Saturday makes the Longhorns my team of the week. Credit to Rodney Terry, who deserves a clear look at having his interim tag removed after this season for the job he’s done after Chris Beard went down. In the road win over the Wildcats, a top-15 KenPom offense had five players in double figures with leading scorers Christian Bishop and Sir’Jabari Rice both coming off the bench.

6. UCLA (19-4)

Jaime Jaquez performed like an All-American on Saturday. The senior wing had 24 points and 15 rebounds as the Bruins held Washington State to just over 30 percent shooting from the floor in a 76-52 victory. The Bruins have won 21 straight games at Pauley Pavilion, the longest active streak in America.

7. virginia (17-4)

The Cavaliers’ seven-game winning streak ended Saturday with a 74-68 loss against Virginia Tech. Armaan Franklin had an off day, with his streak of 10 consecutive games in double figures coming to an end. UVA also struggled defensively, and the Hokies pulled ahead on the final plays at home.

8. Marquette (19-5)

The Golden Eagles have won five straight behind one of America’s best point guards and national player of the year favorite Tyler Kolek. He has 189 assists with just 57 turnovers in 24 games, with one of the best offenses in the country. The Golden Eagles are 10-1 in their last 11 games with the only loss coming against a top-15 Xavier team. Shaka Smart deserves national coach of the year consideration for what he has done with player development.

9. State of Iowa (16-6)

The Cyclones exposed Kansas’ weaknesses Saturday, knocking off the Jayhawks 68-53 in Ames. Yes, Iowa State lost earlier in the week to lowly Texas Tech, but I’ll chalk that up to an outlier. This team is stacked defensively, with Jaren Holmes and Osun Osunniyi transferred from St. Bonaventure and have been fantastic, while Caleb Grill and Gabe Kalscheur are providing sparks from deep. I’m all for TJ Otzelberger’s team making a second straight trip to the Sweet 16.

10. Baylor (17-6)

The Bears have won seven of their last eight games and emotions were high in Waco on Saturday as Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua returned to the court for the first time in 357 days after a gruesome knee injury set him back last February . Jalen Bridges had 18 points and Keyonte George scored 17, while Adam Flagler had 13 points and eight assists in an 89-62 win over Texas Tech.

11. Kansas (18-5)

Yes, the Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball, but the Jayhawks have lost four of their last six games. Jalen Wilson needs help. His 159 points in the last six games are the most by a Kansas player since at least 1996-97, but Bill Self wants to see a more complementary offense. Gradey Dick and Kevin McCullar can’t go 3-for-10 from the field for the Jayhawks to win games like Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

12. Xavier (19-5)

So far without Zach Freemantle, the Musketeers are 2-0. The senior forward is out with a knee injury for at least three more weeks, but the expectation is that he’ll be good to go by the Big East Tournament at the latest. Wednesday’s 85-83 overtime win over Providence was a wild Big East game, with Jack Nunge going 23 and 14, while Colby Jones and Souley Boum each scored 20. John’s in which Sean Miller’s team had 26 assists on 32 made baskets.

13. Tennessee (19-4)

As good as the Volunteers are defensively, it’s hard for me to jump on the bandwagon of a team that doesn’t have a sure man to get them. Josiah Jordan-James had 15 and 14 in Saturday’s 46-45 win over Auburn, but Santiago Vescovi went 2-for-7 and Zakai Zeigler went 0-for-10. As evidenced by a 67-54 loss at Florida also last week, the Vols leave themselves eligible for the NCAA Tournament because scoring is sometimes difficult for this team.

14. Santa Maria (21-4)

The Gaels are the top team in the West Coast Conference and hold a two-game lead over Gonzaga after Saturday night’s 78-70 overtime win over the Bulldogs. Aidan Mahaney is something of a special for Randy Bennett’s team. The freshman point guard had 18 points and three assists in the win, including some incredible clutch plays down the stretch. With the fourth best defense in the country according to KenPom as well, this team really plays complementary basketball.

15. Indiana (16-7)

Beat the No. 1 team, make my top 15. The Hoosiers have won six of their last seven games, and on Saturday they showed America what happens when Trayce Jackson-Davis gets help offensively from the guys on the perimeter. TJD had 25 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, setting the tone for IU to take the lead. But for Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trey Galloway to combine for 27 points? It’s a winning formula. Can the Hoosiers take this win and build on more? They host a Rutgers team on Tuesday night (6:30 p.m. ET, BTN) that we debated putting in this slot.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter at @John_Fanta.

Read more:

FOX Sports Top Stories:

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

College basketball

ten grand

Purdue boiler room

Get more from college basketball Follow your favorites for information on games, news and more

Source link

Leave a Comment