Baylor is now the number one team in the country, and one of just two undefeateds (Gonzaga). I’m totally fine with this and have argued in favor of the Bears for weeks, however, they were less than impressive last week in their climb to the top. Elsewhere in the country, the ACC is starting to settle, the Big 12 is figuring out its bottom feeders, the Big East is holding to preseason form, the SEC is unwatchable outside of Kentucky, the B1G is offensive and Pac 12 After Dark is much more exciting during football season.
There’s two results that I’d like to highlight. The national media has an ACC hard on because talent laden teams like NC State will finish in the middle of the conference and many will vouch for them for an at-large berth. Just don’t forget that talent doesn’t equal results. Losing by 51 should automatically disqualify you from the big show.
If Nevada doesn’t win the Mountain West, they’re certainly making their case for an at-large berth. After losing at St. Mary’s to start the season, the Wolfpack have won 14 of 16 with their two losses coming by a combined three points. While they won’t have any major resume wins, they’ll rack up mediocre wins in the MWC and their games against Boise State and San Diego State will be crucial in deciding if Nevada can afford losing in the MWC Tournament. Either way, they’ll always have this.
Nevada trailed New Mexico 90-76 with just over a minute left last night. What happened next was one of the most insane comebacks you'll see. pic.twitter.com/PEqe0wmbqK
— March Madness 2017 (@Madness2017) January 8, 2017
#1 Baylor Bears  (LW: 2) – Well we finally made it, you guys. We got the Bears and their early season resume to #1. Perhaps the most fitting part of this is that the Bears looked extremely unimpressive this last week in winning home games against two unranked teams by a total of six points. The Bears will undoubtedly fall when they lose and at this point you could argue they’re almost overrated, but until they plan a Kansas or West Virginia, we just won’t know. Being undefeated has it’s benefits.
#2 Kansas Jayhawks  (LW: 3) – The Big 12 also takes the #2 slot as the Jayhawks haven’t lost since opening night to Indiana. They also have a fairly easy week ahead, so I envision the Jayhawks being #1 next week after Baylor inevitably loses at West Virginia on Tuesday. All the talk will be about how crazy this season is that all these #1 teams lose, but that’s what happens when the Big 12 has three top ten teams.
#3 Villanova Wildcats  (LW: 1) – I’m surprised the Wildcats only got one vote for number one. Losing at Butler isn’t a bad loss by any means, and ‘Nova wasn’t going undefeated. At the end of the day a two slot drop for two teams that have won their last 29 games combined, is to be expected.
#4 UCLA Bruins  (LW: 4) – Should the Bruins, whose only loss is at Oregon, be ahead of ‘Nova, whose only loss is at Butler? You could make an argument either way, but going forward ‘Nova will have a better chance to pick up more quality wins than UCLA as the bottom of the Pac 12 is dreadful.
#5 Gonzaga Bulldogs (LW: 5) – The nation’s only other undefeated team stays steady at five and may never get higher than that this season. After watching how the voters treated St. Mary’s after going 2-0 this week, it’s clear they don’t respect the WCC and Gonzaga can only maintain their ranking rather than improve it – even with other teams losing.
#6 Kentucky Wildcats (LW: 6) – All Kentucky did was win their two games this week by an average of 34 points. 34 POINTS! And they played two top half SEC teams. Kenpom’s #1 team is indeed good, but it’s going to be hard to pass a Villanova or Kansas when the rest of your conference is awful. Kentucky won’t be challenged again until they host Kansas on January 28th.
#7 Duke Blue Devils (LW: 8) – Grayson Allen, just stop tripping people you dummy. Duke wasn’t really challenged this last week, but will be as they travel to Florida State AND Louisville this week. 1-1 would be very good and I would argue, should allow them to keep their ranking, but without Coach K I could see 0-2 and a 7 spot drop.
#8 Creighton Blue Jays (LW: 10) – Creighton creeps back into the top-10 after a pair of average road wins, but I’m fine with that. When your only loss is at home to ‘Nova and you have 8-top 100 location adjusted wins, you’re more than proven. Still a better resume than Kentucky (just five such wins).
#9 Florida State Seminoles (LW: 12) – Wooooo boy. The ‘Noles have gone from unranked to #9 in three weeks after only playing two games. Sure they won at Virginia and at home against Virginia Tech, but we’re quickly finding out Virginia isn’t all that great, and Virginia Tech is solid, but beatable when they’re on the road. Only playing two games since December 28th is really helping the ‘Noles – so is the ACC bias.
#10 West Virginia Mountaineers (LW: 7) – The ‘Eers drop three spots after losing at Tech and beating TCU at home. That’s fair and even respectable given the circumstances. They get the #1 team on their home floor on Tuesday before traveling to Austin, so they could really make a statement this week. If they win that game, they should jump the loser of Duke/FSU.
#11 North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 14) – The Tar Heels snuck by Clemson on the road and absolutely pantes NC State at home. NC State has some talented guys that will likely go pro after this year and lost by 57 points. Mark Gottfried is garbage and anyone who tries to tell me NC State should be an NCAA Tournament team is delusional.
#12 Butler Bulldogs (LW: 18) – Good week for the Bulldogs huh? Knock off the #1 team at home and back it up with a win at pesky Georgetown? That’s pretty good. This is a case of classic market overcorrection though. The Bulldogs dropped five spots after the inexplicable loss at St. John’s, but they shouldn’t have. It took two really impressive wins to get them back where they belong. They’re a top 10-15 team, and one bad loss didn’t change that. Voters wouldn’t have to fix this garbage if they didn’t overreact to such trivialities.
#13 Oregon Ducks (LW: 15) – The Ducks are slowly creeping their way back to their preseason projection after a shaky start. They swept their state of Washington roadie this week, which was an absolute must. This is because the bottom of the Pac 12 is bad. Lorenzo Romar is another coach with the mold of Gottfried that can recruit talent, but can’t coach a lick. Washington, with the presumptive #1 pick (Markelle Fultz) is just 8-7 with two losses to preseason Big 12 bottom feeder TCU. Perhaps voters need to look more at how bad some of these teams actually are than just seeing them as “talented”.
#14 Louisville Cardinals (LW: 9) – Dropping five spots for losing at Notre Dame seems like a stretch. You could argue they have more better wins than Oregon (they do), but they also have more losses. Playing a tough schedule is great, but if you’re 3-3 against the top 25, #14 sounds about right. At some point if you think you shouldn’t fall five spots, don’t lose so many games. Louisville will be an interesting team to watch this season because they’re likely to lose more, albeit to good teams, than top tier ACC teams.
#15 Xavier Muskateers (LW: 16) – I hope the ‘X’ enjoys their week in the top-15. They travel to Villanova and Butler this week, so they may go 0-2 and it’ll be interesting to see how far they fall. They’ve been riding the “just don’t lose” wave for a few weeks now, and if you can’t beat ‘Nova or Butler, you’re going to struggle to pick up quality wins in the Big East. 4th best in the Big East is enough to get you in the Dance, but probably not enough to keep you ranked.
#16 Arizona Wildcats (LW: 17) – Arizona’s only top-5o win is at Cal. They’re not going to lose a lot because like has already been discussed, the bottom of the Pac 12 is trash. I have no problem with Arizona at #16, but voters should treat Oregon/Arizona/UCLA more like St. Mary’s/Gonzaga than a top tier ACC/Big 12 team.
#17 Purdue Boilermakers (LW: 20) – The Boilermakers snuck by Ohio State on the road and beat Wisconsin at home. Sound’s like a thing a top-20 team would do. Not sure it justifies jumping three spots and moving ahead of Wisconsin. Wisconsin was projected to lose that game on the road. Even as the better team. This Purdue/Wisconsin switch is a disaster for voters. Purdue lost at home to Minnesota. Wisky’s only previous losses were at Creighton and against UNC in Maui. STOP THE OVERREACTING.
#18 Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 13) – This is how the B1G gets overrated every year. Purdue is not better than Wisconsin, but they get so much credit for simply doing what a top 20-25 SHOULD do. Now every B1G team that plays/beats Purdue (like Minnesota) gets an artificial bump. Purdue is fine, they’re not better than Wisconsin. The rest of the season will prove that, but in the meantime, voters will keep propping up middling/bottom B1G teams for beating teams like Indiana/Purdue with major flaws.
#19 Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 11) – LOL Virginia Disease is a real thing, and at some point y’all will stop sleeping on it. That being said, they went 1-1 and lost in OT at Pittsburgh. Eight spots seems like a lot, but I’m totally fine with it because they should have dropped further after losing to West Virginia and Florida State at home.
#20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (LW: 23) – Notre Dame knocked off Louisville and Clemson at home this week – two pretty fine wins. They now play two middling ACC teams on the road this week in Miami and Virginia Tech. Split those and stay ranked, don’t and I’m fine dropping the Irish from the rankings. They only have three top-50 wins and two are at home – the other is Northwestern.
#21 St. Mary’s Gaels (LW: 19) – The Gaels drop two spots after a 2-0 week. This is what happens when you don’t play anybody. The Gaels will only move up due to a disastrous week for the rest of the ranked teams or beating Gonzaga. That’s it – and I’m fine with it.
#22 Cincinnati Bearcats (LW: 22) – The Bearcats just can’t really seem to move anywhere because the AAC is what it is. A whole lot of “can’t lose” games, and a few wins just good enough to climb a spot or two higher. Cincinnati did their damage in the non-conference and will have another chance when they play Xavier. It’s not unfathomable that they run the table in the conference, but it’s also unlikely. With the lack of respect the AAC is getting, I can’t see this ranking lasting much longer. Too many teams will be getting better wins.
#23 Florida Gators (LW: 24) – The second best team in the SEC, huh? That’s very cute and all, but I just want voters to know that you don’t HAVE to have two ranked teams from every big six conference. The Gators’ best wins are Seton Hall and Arkansas. Great, but if you’re gonna keep them here, treat them like St. Mary’s/Cincinnati – not Purdue/Louisville. Florida hasn’t earned the “benefit of the doubt”.
#24 Minnesota Golden Gophers (LW: UR) – Welcome to the show, Minnesota! The Gophers would have been here earlier had they not found a way to lose to Michigan State at home in OT, but they finally made it after winning at Purdue and Northwestern. This is a cute and fun story, but all of Minnesota’s best wins are going to be in the B1G. They missed a chance to knock off Florida State and other than that, their best non-conference win was Arkansas – yes, that Arkansas that just lost by 26 to Kentucky.
#25 USC Trojans (LW: 25) – This is so perfect. USC lost at home to Cal last night in a game that tipped at 10pm EST. There’s no way voters actually factored that in because USC should not be ranked. They rolled through a non-conference where their best win was BYU and now have lost two of three to start Pac 12 play – including one at home. They play someone with a pulse and they lose. USC is improved from years past, but they’re simply NOT a top-25 team – they’re 51st on Kenpom. 51st!!!