Record: 8-0 | Last week: 1st. In the preseason, on the Eye on College Basketball podcast, I predicted we wouldn’t see a team make it to Jan. 1 without a loss. Historically that’s a bad bet; the last team to take its first loss, on average, usually comes in mid-January. Purdue has a healthy shot to be that team, and it’s unlikely it’s losing before we get to 2022. Here are the next five. At Rutgers on Thursday night, then NC State in Brooklyn, Butler in Indianapolis, home vs. Incarnate Word, home vs. Nicholls State. Looks like 13-0 when the calendar flips to January.
Record: 8-0 | Last week: 2nd. The Bears got a little bit of run for winning the Battle 4 Atlantis the day after Thanksgiving, but in reality that trophy-winning performance landed on a busy weekend with a lot of results. Aside from this space right here, BU hasn’t gotten its due four weeks in. The reigning national champions will truly step back onto the big stage this Sunday with a high-profile home game against Villanova. Scott Drew doesn’t schedule scared.
Record: 8-0 | Last week: 4th. Well, Wyoming was having a nice first month of its season. An 8-0 start and an eagerly anticipated chance Wednesday night against a fellow undefeated in Arizona. Then they tipped and the Wildcats promptly looked like one of the three best teams in the country. It was 53-22 at the half and 94-65 at the end. Arizona continues to look mighty. It’s beating teams by an average of 32.1 points, an absurd margin more than a month into the season.
Record: 9-0 | Last week: 5th. The most overlooked maybe-great team in the country. The only other power-conference team with a record to match is the one slotted right below the Trojans in the Hey Nineteen. USC has five of its nine wins away from home. On Tuesday, Isaiah Mobley had a career-high 23 points on 5-of-6 3-point shooting in USC’s 80-68 win over Eastern Kentucky. Mobley and Ethan Anderson combine to make 43.6% of their treys.
Record: 9-0 | Last week: 6th. The Hogs are lucky the Hey Nineteen is a hot list more than a true power ranking, because the schedule so far doesn’t warrant top-five status. But I won’t hold a team back for going nine for nine and winning most of its games by more than 15 points. That said, average KenPom ranking for Arkansas’ nine victims: 195.
Record: 8-1 | Last week: 7th. Had Bucky played the second half on Wednesday night the way it played the first half, I might have had to boot it from the proceedings. Instead, UW comes back from 22 points down (matching a program record) to win 64-59 over Indiana. The last IU coach to win in Madison is Bob Knight; IU has dropped 19 straight games at Wisconsin, which matches the program’s worst losing streak at one venue in history (1901-22 at Purdue). Johnny Davis continues to soar. He had 23 points to will Wisconsin in victory.
Record: 8-0 | Last week: 8th. No games for the Tigers since we last met, but they nudge up a spot due to losses elsewhere in the top 10. Next up is Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday. Something to keep an eye on: Georgia Tech ranks 15th in 3-point accuracy and LSU allows teams to shoot more than 25 3-pointers per game. Josh Pastner’s team has a chance.
Record: 9-0 | Last week: 11th. I watched the first 34 minutes of Colorado State’s home game Saturday vs. Saint Mary’s. Then I turned it off because there was nothing left to see. The Rams thoroughly outclassed a fellow mid-major NCAA Tournament candidate with a 74-58 win. If the Rams beat a vulnerable Mississippi State team in Fort Worth this weekend, it will mean four of CSU’s 10 wins will have come on neutral courts. It’s big because there are no nonconference road games for this team this season.
Record: 8-0 | Last week: 12th. Can the Cyclones keep the dream going by beating hated Iowa on Thursday night? Tonight marks the 75th meeting in the series’ history that goes all the way back to 1909. Stupidly, the schools refused to play one another from 1935-1970. Iowa’s won three straight. ISU gets this one at home. Home team is 15-3 in the last 18.
Record: 8-1. Last week: 10th. Not much to add for Duke this week. It stays flat in the rankings, as the team is amid a two-week break from games due to finals. South Carolina State (Dec. 14), Appalachian State (Dec. 16) and Cleveland State (Dec. 18) comprise the remainder of the out-of-league slate. Yeah.
Record: 8-1. Last week: 13th. The Coogs have ranked 14th on average the past four seasons in defensive efficiency at KenPom. UH sits at No. 2 in that column today. Might this be Sampson’s best defensive team yet? The schedule has been admirable. A huge road opportunity against Alabama is coming Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2. It’s the second-best game of the weekend (behind Villanova-Baylor) on what’s a pretty strong weekend forthcoming in college basketball.
Record: 7-1. Last week: 15th. Because so many schools are going through finals this week (and some will have this next week), we have a lot of squads without a game to their name since last Thursday’s Hey Nineteen. UCLA is another. Next is a game that looks more interesting now than it did a month ago. The Bruins play at Marquette Saturday, a Marquette team that’s 8-2 after winning by one at Kansas State on Wednesday night.
Record: 7-2 | Last week: 3rd. The Alabama defeat tumbles GU, as it should. Thursday night brings Merrimack from across the country (school is based in Massachusetts) and so we’re likely to see the Bulldogs win their 57th straight home game. That’s the longest streak in men’s college basketball. Twenty-eight of Gonzaga’s past 56 home wins have been by 30 or more points. I suspect this one will, too. Merrimack’s offense ranks 322nd; Gonzaga’s is No. 2.
Record: 9-1 | Last week: 16th. The Friars are going to go 10-1 in nonconference play and probably not crack into the AP Top 25. I’ve never been one to get caught up in the AP Top 25, but it’s a rough look for the voting collective that PC didn’t receive one vote in the most recent poll. I thought Ed Cooley’s team would be too reliant on Nate Watson and A.J. Reeves this season. I was wrong. Watson, Reeves, Al Durham and Noah Horchler are scoring 50 a night and have the makings of an NCAA Tournament squad.
Record: 7-1 | Last week: N/R. If you’re a Tide fan believing your guys should be above Gonzaga here, you can’t so quickly forget about that loss to Iona two weeks ago. It’s the only thing stopping Nate Oats’ team from being in the top four of these rankings. Alabama has the best four-headed guard attack in college basketball. Jaden Shackelford 116.2, Jahvon Quinerly, J.D. Davison and Keon Ellis are a nightmare to keep in check. Davison is just coming into his own and Quinerly hasn’t hit fourth gear yet.
Record: 10-0 | Last week: 17th. Best record in the sport. The Dons are for real and they love to compete. Todd Golden’s team trailed much of the second half, including by two possessions with less than four minutes remaining against Fresno State on Wednesday night. USF went on a 12-1 run late and won by eight. Now there’s a 10-day break before a high-level mid-major tilt next weekend in Phoenix against maybe the best team in the WAC, Grand Canyon.
Record: 7-1. Last week: N/R. The Jayhawks were my No. 2 item in Wednesday’s Court Report, so go give that a read, KU fans. The Jayhawks work their way in, two weeks removed from losing to Dayton (6-4). Saturday brings the return of the Border War. Kansas will host Missouri. The Tigers are not good. They probably will lose by double digits at the Phog. But this game means a lot to millions of people in that part of the country. It hasn’t been played since 2012, and it’s great to have it back.
Record: 8-1 | Last week: N/R. Since Nov. 18 Xavier has a win against Ohio State, a loss on a neutral to undefeated Iowa State, a win on a neutral over Virginia Tech and a road win against Oklahoma State. Travis Steele’s team beat Ball State by 36 on Wednesday night, giving no indication it was looking ahead to the Crosstown Shootout game vs. underdog Cincinnati this Saturday. The Bearcats are 7-2 and have done enough to make that game more compelling than most thought it would be in Wes Miller’s first season.
Record: 8-1. Last week: N/R. The Eers’ cover-your-eyes 56-53 home win over UConn on Wednesday night was enough to bump the Huskies out of the Nineteen and get Bob Huggins’ team just through the door. This group is still COMFORTABLY outside the top 40 in the NET, at KenPom and at Torvik. WVU normally functions more properly when it’s underestimated anyway.