College Basketball Power Rankings: February 23
With just two weeks left in the regular season, we have one of the more top-heavy collection of teams in recent history. Kentucky is still undefeated, while both Virginia and Gonzaga have just one loss. Here are the 10 best teams in the country, as it stands now.
1. Kentucky (27–0): Kentucky shot a sizzling 64.7 percent in their 110-point outburst against Auburn. The 35-point blowout was their most lopsided win since annihilating Missouri by 49 in mid-January. The undefeated Wildcats have just four more regular season games before the SEC tournament. At this point, entering the Big Dance at 34–0 is more of a probability than a possibility.
This week: at Mississippi State (Wednesday), versus Arkansas (Saturday). Previous: 1
2. Virginia (24–1*): Virginia is a lock to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight season, which marks their first back-to-back appearances since the mid-1990s. They haven’t won more than 25 games in back-to-back seasons since Ralph Sampson was on campus in the early ’80s.
This week: at Wake Forest (Wednesday), versus Virginia Tech (Saturday). Previous: 2
3. Duke (24–3): Duke showed incredible guts in coming back to beat North Carolina, in overtime, on Wednesday in a game they both led and trailed by double-digits at different times. Then they topped Clemson by 22 on Saturday without leading-scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker Jahlil Okafor (sprained ankle).
This week: at Virginia Tech (Wednesday), versus Syracuse (Saturday). Previous: 3
4. Gonzaga (28–1): The Bulldogs’ winning streak is at 21 games and counting, and junior forward Kyle Wiltjer is a big reason why. Not only is the Kentucky transfer leading the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game, he put up 45 against Pacific on Thursday—the most by a Gonzaga player in 54 years. Gonzaga has already clinched another conference title (their 14th in 15 seasons) with two more games to go.
This week: versus San Diego (Thursday), versus BYU (Saturday). Previous: 4
5. Wisconsin (25–2): The Badgers, who have coasted to a 13–1 Big Ten record, currently have a three-game lead with four left—but it’ll be a difficult four with Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, and finally Ohio State left on the schedule. Frank Kaminsky continues to lead the team with a 17.7 scoring average and 8.3 rebounds per contest.
This week: at Maryland (Tuesday), versus Michigan State (Sunday). Previous: 5
6. Arizona (24–3): The Wildcats beat both UCLA and USC this past week—and they did it not only with great defense but also with rebounding. The Wildcats out-boarded the Bruins by 17 and the Trojans by 16, and are currently sixth in the NCAA (out of 351 schools) in rebounding margin at 8.5 per game.
This week: at Colorado (Thursday), at Utah (Saturday). Previous: 6
7. Villanova (25–2): The Wildcats have won eight straight games, and at 12–2 in the Big East, they are enjoying a 2.5 game lead with just four left. Jay Wright’s balanced club had five players score in double-figures in each of the last two games—resulting in wins over Seton Hall and Marquette.
This week: versus Providence (Tuesday), at Xavier (Saturday). Previous: 7
8. Notre Dame (24–4): The Fighting Irish have won three straight since Duke trounced them on Feb. 7. Point guard Jerian Grant had double-doubles in both wins, including 24 points, 10 assists, and 5 steals, while playing all 40 minutes in the 88–75 win over Wake Forest.
This week: versus Syracuse (Tuesday). Previous: 9
9. Kansas (22–5): Kansas forward Perry Ellis was unable to convert on what would have been the game-winning layup against West Virginia on Monday, but he rebounded with 23 points, on 9–10 shooting, in the win over TCU on Saturday. The Jayhawks hold a one-game lead with four remaining while in pursuit of their 11th straight Big 12 title.
This week: at Kansas State (Monday), versus Texas (Saturday). Previous: 8
10. Northern Iowa (27–2): Northern Iowa has won 15 straight games since opening conference play with a loss to Evansville. Included in there is a 16-point win over Wichita State, who the Panthers will likely have to beat Saturday to win the Missouri Valley Conference.
This week: versus Evansville (Wednesday), at Wichita State (Saturday). Previous: NR
*Denotes record through Saturday.