On the Ball: College Basketball Power Rankings
Anyone that saw Kentucky race out to a 41–7 halftime lead over UCLA would have to agree that the Wildcats are the best team in college basketball—bar none. The UCLA win, coupled with the drubbing of Kansas, not too mention that they had little trouble with North Carolina a week earlier, gives the Wildcats a trio of convincing wins over three of the most storied programs in the history of college basketball—all in a few weeks time.
10. Kansas (9–1): Bill Self and the Jayhawks had to be thrilled that highly-touted freshman guard Kelly Oubre Jr. finally erupted for 23 points and 10 rebounds in KU’s 96–69 win over Lafayette. Oubre, who was a McDonald’s All-American last year, had totaled just 31 points in KU’s first 9 games of the season.
This week: at Temple (Monday).
9. Texas (10–1): Speaking of great freshmen, Texas has one of the best in center Myles Turner. The 6-foot-11-inch Turner, who averages 11.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game put up 26 and 9 to go along with 6 blocks in the 106–61 win over Lipscomb. Despite not being a regular starter, Turner leads the team with 2.9 blocks a game.
This week: versus Stanford (Tuesday).
8. Villanova (11–0): Villanova guards Josh Hart and Darrun Hilliard Jr. each scored 20 or more points in wins over Temple and Syracuse this past week as the Wildcats boast five players averaging double-digits in scoring. This marks the second straight season that Jay Wright’s club has started 11–0.
This week: versus NJIT (Tuesday).
7. Gonzaga (11–1): Gonzaga struggled to a 63–50 win over Cal-Poly Saturday yet are still among the leaders in most offensive categories. The Bulldogs are 11th nationally in points per game at 83.7 and second in shooting at 53.6 percent from the field. Leading scorer Kyle Wiltjer is averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting 56.1 percent from the floor.
This week: at BYU (Saturday).
6. Virginia (11–0): The 27 points allowed by Virginia in its 49-point crushing of Harvard Sunday was (believe it or not) only its second-best defensive performance of the season—topped by their 45–26 drubbing of Rutgers. Harvard had just eight points and one field goal by halftime. Not surprisingly the Cavaliers top the nation in fewest points allowed at 46.2 per game.
This week: no games this week.
5. Wisconsin (10–1): Wisconsin senior forward Frank Kaminsky, who made a name for himself when he put up 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Arizona in last year’s Elite Eight win, has continued his surge this season. The 7-footer, who is adept at shooting on the perimeter, has scored in double-digits in all but one game this season.
This week: at California (Monday), versus Buffalo (Sunday).
4. Louisville (10–0): Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are likely Kentucky’s biggest challenge to entering the tournament, if not the Final Four, with an unblemished record. Louisville is led by 6-foot-8-inch, 240-pound junior forward Montrezl Harrell who averages 16.7 points, 10.0 rebounds a game and has five double-doubles on the season.
This week: versus CS Northridge (Tuesday), versus Kentucky (Saturday).
3. Arizona (12–0): Arizona, one of the better shooting teams in the country at 50.7 percent (seventh in the nation) currently averages to outscore its opponents by 17.7 points per game—despite one of tougher nonconference schedules in the country. Leading-scorer Stanley Johnson has scored 10 or more points in all but one game this year.
This week: at UNLV (Tuesday).
2. Duke (10–0): The Blue Devils beat defending champion UConn Thursday, despite getting zero points from the bench. Freshman center Jahlil Okafor, who leads the team in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (8.9) had 12 and 8 in the win. Duke has won every game by at least 10 points and averages a 25.2 scoring margin.
This week: no games this week.
1. Kentucky (12–0): In its 83–44 win over UCLA Saturday, the Wildcats scored the first 24 points of the game (eight shy of the NCAA Division I record) and held the Bruins to their fewest points (7) ever in a half. What else can you say about the best team to come along in college basketball in a long, long time?
This week: at Louisville (Saturday).