Usually, the madness doesn’t start until March, but we saw plenty of it this week, as the majority of the top-25 lost, in what was a wild week of action on the college hoops hardwood! Even teams at the top of the rankings weren’t immune to the carnage as top-5 teams Baylor, UCLA, and USC all lost this week.
New AP Poll! ?
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) January 17, 2022
Those teams were joined by Michigan State, LSU, Iowa State, Ohio State, Xavier, Texas Tech, Seton Hall, Texas, Tennessee, and Alabama as ranked teams that lost this week. The newly released AP Poll has movement all over the place, including a new number 1 team, as the Gonzaga Bulldogs have retaken the top spot, and while my power rankings never match the AP exactly, you can be sure that my rankings are going to look a whole lot different this week as well. With that, we will jump right into this week’s NCAA Men’s Basketball power rankings!
Gonzaga Bulldogs (14-2)
The Gonzaga Bulldogs missed some action a couple of weeks back, as they saw some games canceled due to a COVID-19 pause, but the Zags are back in action now, and they look better than they ever have as they slaughtered teams this week. Gonzaga went 2-0 this week, beating their rivals BYU and smashing Santa Clara.
Even for a team with a long history of being great on the offensive side of the court, the Zags have outdone themselves recently, as they have scored at least 93 points in each of their last 5 games, including dropping 100+ in all 3 of their West Coast Conference league games. We have heard a lot of talk about the WCC being the best it has ever been, with 4 teams ranked inside the Kenpom top-40, but Gonzaga has quickly reminded everyone that they are still the team to beat out west.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) January 17, 2022
So, what has sparked this recent surge for the Bulldogs? The haters will say it is a lack of competition, but they scored 110 points on BYU, against a Cougars team that was top-10 in the country on defense. For me, what has triggered this absurd run on offense, is that they are getting back to their roots and feeding National Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme the ball.
Earlier in the year, Mark Few was trying to see what he had in guys like Chet Holmgren, Julian Strawther, and Rasir Bolton, but it has been Timme time as of late, as he has scored 80 points in their last 3 games combined, while shooting the lights out with an 88% shooting percentage from the field. The Zags only have 1 game coming up this week, against a bad Pacific team, and you can expect another 100+ point effort where the Bulldogs win by 30+ points. We knew that when this team gelled that they were going to be scary, and we are seeing that right now, as this team is back to looking like the best in the nation.
Auburn Tigers (16-1)
This was a tough decision for me, as I think that the Auburn Tigers are just a half of a step behind Gonzaga for the top team in the country, and 3rd place is a ways back, as these teams are in a class all of their own. The Tigers have Jabari Smith, who is shooting up draft boards and could end up going number 1 overall in next year’s NBA draft, and they are tearing through the SEC, a conference that many people see as the toughest in the country.
Auburn hasn’t lost in months, and they have shown that they aren’t at all afraid of playing in hostile territory, as they have true road wins over Saint Louis, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. The Tigers have 8 wins over the top-100, and their resume is starting to look like one that is well-deserving of a 1-seed in the Big Dance.
? Still climbing!
— Auburn Basketball ? (@AuburnMBB) January 17, 2022
Auburn went 2-0 this week with road wins over Alabama and Mississippi, and their 5-0 record in the SEC has them sitting all alone in 1st place. Next up for the Tigers is a soft game against the Georgia Bulldogs at home, where they are going to be favored by at least 20 points, but then things get tough, as the Tigers welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to town for a showdown between a couple of the best teams that the SEC has to offer.
Bruce Pearl has done everything there is to do as a head coach besides winning a national title, and this team might be his best team yet at Auburn. If the Tigers can go 2-0 this week, including a win over the Wildcats, I don’t think it will matter what Gonzaga does, as you just won’t be able to deny the Tigers the title of the best of the best.
Wisconsin Badgers (14-2)
I just mentioned that I see Auburn and Gonzaga as being in a league of their own, so while some of you may argue that I am a bit too high on the Wisconsin Badgers, my pushback would be that the rest of these teams in the top-10 are so tightly bunched, that it really doesn’t matter who you have 3rd and who you have 10th, as all of these are very good basketball teams. And after seeing the Badgers dominate the top of the Big 10 in the last couple of weeks, they deserve all of the praise that I can give them.
Johnny Davis has exploded onto the scene for Wisconsin and is making a case for NPOY consideration as he fills up the stat sheet with 21.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. With Davis leading the way, Wisconsin has won 12 of their last 13 games, and their resume is one of the best of any team, as they have huge wins over Houston, Texas A&M, Saint Mary’s, Marquette, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Maryland, and Ohio State.
??. ? Wisconsin ????? pic.twitter.com/B72lfqx9Xt
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 17, 2022
The reason I like the Badgers so much is that they have shown that they can beat elite teams. We just haven’t seen that from some of the teams that are generally ranked higher than Wisconsin by the mainstream media. Teams like Houston and UCLA are great, but their resumes don’t hold a candle to the Badgers.
We are going to see more tough games coming up for Wisconsin, as this week they play at Northwestern and then home against Michigan State. If the Badgers can pick up wins in both of those games, you can expect that the media will start to pay attention and move the Badgers up to their rightful spot, near the top of the rankings. For now, I will be content with being ahead of the curve and ranking Wisconsin a bit higher than everyone else.
Arizona Wildcats (14-1)
If this ranking were based just on the eye test, the Arizona Wildcats might be ranked number 1. The Wildcats have athleticism that is off the chart, and they use that raw ability to run away from teams on a regular basis. One minute a game is tightly contested, and then you blink, and Arizona is up 20. Things can happen that quickly with this team, as very few teams can handle a team that has athletes everywhere like the Wildcats do.
No team in the nation plays at a faster pace than the Wildcats, and that results in a lot of fast break points and easy buckets. Arizona’s only loss came on the road in Knoxville against a very solid Tennessee Volunteers team, and they have dominated league play, jumping out to a 4-0 record, with each game being decided by at least 18-points.
— Arizona Basketball (@ArizonaMBB) January 17, 2022
The lack of quality victories is the only thing keeping the Wildcats from the top of these rankings, and we are going to find out a lot about this team in the next several days, as they play one of their toughest stretches of the season, with 3 consecutive road games in conference play. Arizona plays at Stanford, at Cal, and at UCLA, and a 3-0 week would send this hype train on the ‘Cats into overdrive. My gut says that path is a little too tough to expect them to sweep the series, but who knows what this team can do under new head coach Tommy Lloyd, as he has his Wildcats playing at an elite level.
Baylor Bears (15-2)
It would have been super easy to overreact to the Baylor Bears bad week and drop them even further down these rankings, but you always want to make your decisions based on the biggest sample size of data that you have available, and when you look at Baylor’s full body of work, they are still a team that deserves recognition.
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) January 15, 2022
It is hard to have a much worse week than Baylor had this week as they went 0-2, with home losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. I won’t dump on the Bears too much, as the Red Raiders are a very good team, and Oklahoma State is at least a decent team, but it was a bit shocking to see Baylor drop back-to-back games after having not lost a single game all season long until this week.
To make matters worse for Baylor, they have an absolutely savage week ahead of them, as they play at West Virginia and at Oklahoma this week. Both of those games are going to be challenges, and if the Bears can’t find a way to stop the bleeding soon, they are going to continue to slide down these rankings. Road wins over Oregon, TCU, and Iowa State tell me that Baylor has what it takes to win those games if they play their best, and a 2-0 week would go a long way into quieting down the haters.
Duke Blue Devils (14-2)
The Duke Blue Devils are getting a bit ignored right now, as they are starting to feel the pinch of the lack of quality teams in the ACC. The Blue Devils have been the only ranked team in the ACC all season long, making their 4-1 record in league play look not all that impressive to casual fans. Personally, I think the ACC is better than it is getting credit for right now, but until the rest of the country gets on board with that line of thinking, we are going to see Duke continue to get under-appreciated.
???????????#KeelMode: "It's scary for the opponent… That crowd is crazy. It gets loud. It gets us going. We love the Crazies."
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) January 16, 2022
This week, the Blue Devils picked up wins over Wake Forrest on the road and NC State at home. The win over the Demon Deacons really impressed me, as Wake is better than they have been in years this season, and their top-50 ranking on Kenpom would suggest they are an NCAA tournament-caliber team. This week it is a road trip at Florida State and a home game against Syracuse, and while they aren’t going to get much love for beating those teams, both of those games are potential minefields against solid teams. Paolo Banchero might be the best player in the country, and Coach K might be the best coach ever, give the Blue Devils some love, as this is a very good basketball team.
Kansas Jayhawks (14-2)
The Big 12 is my pick for the best conference in the country, as the league is stacked top to bottom, and no wins are ever going to be easy ones. And while teams like Baylor, Iowa State, Texas, and Texas Tech have taken turns in the national spotlight, it’s almost like Kansas is expected to be elite after years of dominating the league, and that has led to the Jayhawks being a bit underappreciated right now.
When was the last time you heard someone talk about Kansas as being a Final Four threat? Well, I will tell you what, they absolutely are a team that can win it all, and this week they reminded everybody that the Big 12 title is always theirs to lose, with big wins over Iowa State and West Virginia. Life in the Big 12 is never easy, and the Jayhawks have to play a pair of tough road games this week, at Oklahoma and at Kansas State.
Up two spots ? pic.twitter.com/fztpIREBze
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) January 17, 2022
The Sooners and Wildcats aren’t the best teams in the Big 12, but they are both firmly ranked in the top-100 nationally, and road games are always harder than they appear on the surface, and that is especially true in conference games. After this week, things get crazy for Kansas, as they have a 5-game stretch where they play Texas Tech, Kentucky, Iowa State, Baylor, and Texas. Hold on, Jayhawks fans, the ride is about to get a little bumpy!
Iowa State Cyclones (14-3)
Speaking of the Big 12, I have the Iowa State Cyclones coming in next at number 7, as this team continues to prove that their hot start to the season wasn’t a fluke. The Cyclones have been in the basement of the Big 12 for the last couple of seasons, and even after Iowa State went 12-0 in the non-conference, with signature wins over teams like Xavier, Memphis, Creighton, and Iowa, most expected them to struggle in the Big 12.
But I am happy to report that the Cyclones are hanging around in the Big 12, with wins over Texas and Texas Tech and highly competitive losses to Baylor and Kansas. The Cyclones aren’t going to win the Big 12 regular season title, but I do see the Cyclones as a legit NCAA tournament team, which is saying an awful lot after they went just 2-22 last year.
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) January 17, 2022
Iowa State plays on the road against a ranked Texas Tech team in their next game, and they finish up the week with a home game against 12-2 TCU. Win or lose, you can be sure that the Cyclones are going to play hard and put up a fight, and I think that come March, this team is going to surprise a lot of people with a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Villanova Wildcats (13-4)
How good are the Villanova Wildcats? They are good enough to win a national title. I know that I might be in the minority when I say that, but I have seen Jay Wright win way too many games to ever doubt him, and with super senior Collin Gillespie leading the way, this team can beat anybody in the country on a given night. No team on this list has more losses than Villanova does, but when you take a closer look at this Wildcat’s schedule, none of those losses are even remotely bad ones.
‘Nova has losses to UCLA, Purdue, and Baylor. Both the Bears and Boilermakers have spent time ranked number 1 in the nation this year, and UCLA has been ranked as high as 2nd this year and made the Final Four last year. The only other loss for Villanova came on the road at Creighton, where the Blue Jays are notoriously hard to beat.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) January 17, 2022
Now that Big East play is up and running, we are seeing that, as usual, the Wildcats own the league. After that conference play opening loss to Creighton, the ‘Cats have reeled off 6 league wins in a row, with wins over Xavier (twice), Seton Hall, Creighton, DePaul, and Butler.
This week they play at home against Marquette and on the road against Georgetown and they should be favored in both games. If you want to circle a game on your calendar right now, take a look at the February 15th road game against Providence. The Friars might be the most underrated team in the country, and that game could very well be for the regular season league title. Do not sleep on Villanova!
Purdue Boilermakers (14-2)
To round out our top-10, we will highlight the Boilermakers of Purdue. Purdue briefly spent time ranked number 1, and a couple of losses in Big 10 play isn’t going to be enough to convince me that this team still isn’t one of the best around. They lost to Rutgers on a ridiculous half-court buzzer beater, and they lost at home to Wisconsin, and you all know how I feel about the Badgers.
And their collection of wins rivals any team in the nation, with wins over North Carolina, Villanova, Florida State, Iowa, and Penn State. Purdue added Illinois to their resume earlier today, with a thrilling double-overtime win over the Illini, on the road no less, and things stay tough in their next game, a road trip to Bloomington to play the Indiana Hoosiers.
WHAT. A. WIN!!!
— Purdue Mens Basketball (@BoilerBall) January 17, 2022
I said earlier this year that when the Boilermakers inevitably drop a couple of games in Big 10 play, to not let it fool you into thinking they aren’t an elite team, and I will stand by those words, as Purdue has 3rd-weekend upside in the NCAA tournament. Purdue trails only Gonzaga in terms of offensive efficiency, and if you haven’t gotten a chance to watch Jaden Ivey and company play a game yet, you truly are missing out.
And there you have it, folks, my weekly NCAA Men’s Basketball power rankings. If you want to win in March betting on college hoops, you need to start doing your homework now, and that starts by swinging by TheSportsGeek’s college hoops betting page, where our team of expert handicappers bring you high value, free, NCAA Men’s Basketball betting picks!