We also examine how ranked teams are doing at this point in the season vs. previous years. Surprising stats inside!
Here’s an unexpected unintended consequence of the rankings turnover this season: we aren’t getting as many games between ranked teams as we maybe otherwise would.
And over the next six nights, only two games will feature both squads currently ranked in the AP Top 25. Saturday is Kentucky at Texas Tech. Next Wednesday is West Virginia at Texas Tech. Other than that, some compelling matchups but not the ones that will draw in an even bigger audience in late January, as the general public tends to be drawn more to games when numbers are next two both teams instead of one or two.
By the way, I did some research to compare where the top teams in the sport stand, collectively, in the loss column this season. This is Week 12 of the AP Top 25. The 25 teams in this week’s poll have a combined 81 losses, which is hefty — but not aberrational. A year ago at the Week 12 point, there were just 65 total Ls. But in 2017-18, the loss total was 80. The year before? The 2016-17 season had 67 losses from the 25 teams in Week 12 of that season’s AP poll. And in 2015-16, the number was 79 total losses for top-25 teams.
So it’s a lot this season but in no way an outrageous outlier. It does make for some fun and highly debatable team ranking, for sure. Here’s the latest look at the hottest and most impressive teams in college basketball from the past 4-6 weeks of play.
|🔄 Previous: No. 1 | How about this: Baylor (16-1) has held Texas to its fewest points ever under Shaka Smart, kept TTU to its lowest home total under Chris Beard AND held Kansas to its fewest points in a home game in 15 seasons of Bill Self’s tenure. That’s all this season. Baylor’s the best team in college basketball, folks.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 2 | Interesting chance of pace — literally — for the Zags (20-1) this season. Mark Few has his team playing at 71.9 possessions per game (adjusted for competition), which ranks 30th. It’s the fastest Gonzaga‘s ever played (last season’s 70.2 the prior mark) and the highest-ranked GU’s been in tempo at KenPom, last season’s 62 ranking being the previous high.|
|🔄 Previous: No. 3 | With a win at UNLV on Sunday, SDSU will move to 21-0 and have its best start in school history. Problem could be that UNLV’s a lot better in its first year under T.J. Otzelberger than most expected. And the one thing San Diego State struggles with (offensive rebounding; it ranks 122nd in that category) is Vegas’ forte. The Runnin’ Rebels are top-10 in offensive rebound rate.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 5 | Dayton now has the No. 2 offense in college basketball, only behind Gonzaga. The 17-2 Flyers are still undefeated in regulation this season (only losses in overtime to Kansas and Colorado, both headed to the NCAAs). And if you missed it, Dayton stayed strong last Friday with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Jalen Crutcher, UD’s most prominent 3-pointer shooter, who’s hitting 41% from deep. Then, on Wednesday, UD made 25 of its 29 shots from inside the 3-point line against Bona.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 7 | Bizarre how 16-2 Florida State, its losses coming at Pitt and at Indiana, is still lingering down at No. 16 in KenPom, No. 17 in BPI and No. 22 in Torvik. Those are all predictive metrics. How many more wins to crack the top 10? Next two are home vs. Notre Dame on Saturday and at Virginia next Tuesday.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 9 | The No. 1 ranking in defensive efficiency at KenPom has been a three-way rotation over the past two weeks between Virginia, West Virginia and Kansas. The reason for that is not just the performance of the teams, but the collective performance of the teams they’ve played. As of Thursday, it’s 15-3 Kansas that rates No. 1 in defense … right with Virginia. Both giving up 83.9 points per 100 adjusted possessions. Give the nod to Kansas: it has the No. 1-ranked strength of schedule.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 11 | The Pirates’ 7-0 start in Big East play, the best league start in school history, continued Wednesday with a comfortable-enough 73-64 win over Providence. Seton Hall (15-4) has won nine straight, its longest win streak in 17 years. And by cracking into the top 10 in the AP poll this week, SHU did so for the first time since Dec. 18, 2000. Because SHU and Rutgers are ranked, it’s the first time in 30 years two New Jersey-based schools are in the AP Top 25.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 13 | Things got a bit hairy at home Wednesday night vs. Georgia Tech but the Cards came out with a 68-64 win to take their fourth straight. U of L is well-positioned to rise in polls and metrics of all kinds. Its next four games are: vs. Clemson, at Boston College, at NC State, vs. Wake Forest. It’s a 16-3 team that should be 19-4 at worst two weeks from now.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 15 | It’s a little bit amazing that the Wildcats have moved to 15-3 and are blending into their surroundings. Nobody stopping to realize this group is capable of winning its way to the Final Four? Is the nation suffering from some overall Villanova fatigue, and since this roster doesn’t have an All-American candidate or top-20 pick, it’s just getting lost in the shuffle? That might wind up still being the case, since Nova has three of its next four on the road and will likely lose at least one.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 4 | The 15-4 Ducks went 1-1 since being ranked No. 4 in last week’s Hey Nineteen. The 72-61 loss at Washington State was eye-opening. Then Payton Pritchard proved his point and case for All-American status by at Washington.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 8 | How to cure your ills after losing at Clemson and then following that up with a home defeat to Louisville? Welcome in Miami and beat it by 40. That’s what the Blue Devils did Tuesday night, a result entirely overshadowed by the K-State/Kansas fracas. One reason Duke is 16-3 and still a top-three team per most metrics? It’s holding opponents to a 27% 3-point-attempt rate, which means only Northern Colorado, Idaho State, Michigan and Sacramento State are inducing teams to take fewer 3s.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 6 | It was a wacky week for West Virginia, which went weird in an 84-68 loss at K-State (and it wasn’t that close) last Saturday. But the bounce-back effort was nice. The ‘Eers walloped Texas 97-59, handing Shaka Smart one of the worst losses by margin in his career. At 15-3, WVU remains a promising threat to make the Final Four.|
|⤴️ Previous: No. 18 | The Spartans (14-4) are the beneficiary of not playing a lot lately and seeing carnage emerge around them otherwise. MSU was docked for its 71-42 loss at Purdue, but that game was 11 days ago. Only one since was, a 12-point win over Wisconsin last Friday. Thursday night offers an interesting test. Michigan State at Indiana. A loss for Izzo’s guys would mean MSU and Illinois would be tied atop the Big Ten standings.|
|⤵️ Previous: No. 10 | The Tigers don’t free fall out of the rankings thanks to a 13-point home win over mercurial South Carolina, which came Wednesday night. Still, this is a 16-2 team — a 16-2 team with skeptics. That may not change in the coming weeks if Kentucky loses at Texas Tech on Saturday, because that result could mean Auburn avoids playing a ranked team not just into February, but maybe mid-February.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | Coogs! Welcome to your return inside the power rankings, Houston. Kelvin Sampson’s team was a staple in the Hey Nineteen last season. And now, with a 14-4 record and Memphis slip-sliding away, the Cougars break in thanks to a 4-1 AAC record and the fact they’ve lost once in the past six weeks. In that stretch UH has won five games away from home, including last weekend’s overthrow of a W at Wichita State. UConn is in town Thursday.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | Break down the leagues, and these are the top 10 in college hoops. You’ve got the Major Seven conferences in the AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. Then you’ve got the other three reliable multi-bid leagues: the Atlantic 10, the Mountain West and the WCC. With LSU‘s inclusion here, every team undefeated in conference play from a top-10 league is in the power rankings. That’s Baylor, Seton Hall, Dayton, Gonzaga, San Diego State and 14-4 LSU. Will Wade’s Tigers have won seven straight and play at Texas (Shaka Smart his former boss) on Saturday.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | John Calipari’s team has been ping-ponging in and out of the power rankings this season. But let’s step back and examine why UK (14-4) clearly should be listed here this week. First, you had a litany of teams in the 10-30 range take losses in at least one of their past two games, whereas Kentucky went 2-0, including a win at then-hot Arkansas. And UK has won six of its past seven, the only loss on a frenzied 3-pointer at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks were boosted by the spirit of Devan Downey. Fascinated to see how Kentucky fares at Texas Tech this weekend. UK is 4-0 all time vs. the Red Raiders, the last meeting coming in 1994.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | No metric, no ranking, no pundit, no anyone or anything can accurately evaluate or predict Maryland at this stage. The Terps are a healthy-enough 15-4 — and all four losses are good losses. Mark Turgeon’s team has gone down at Penn State, at Seton Hall, at Iowa and at Wisconsin. It’s treading water at 5-3 in the chunky Big Ten. It’s No. 10 at KenPom, No. 10 in Sagarin, No. 10 in BPI, No. 15 in the NET, No. 20 at Torvik … but just 2-4 in Quad 1 games. It’s 223rd in 2-point shooting and 256th in 3-point shooting. This is MYSTICAL.|
|⤴️ Previous: unranked | A leftover nugget that didn’t make the Court Report,to turn Illinois (14-5) into an NCAA Tournament contender. So, there is still one element to Illinois’ offense Underwood likes to keep: statistically, the most efficient time to get a score is within seven seconds of starting a possession. The Illini don’t deploy it repeatedly, but it is how they keep games on a wobble. Welcome back to relevance, Illini.|
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