TSFJ College Hoops Power Rankings Week 5: Changes On The Back End

Photo: Nick Krug, Lawrence Journal World

We’re now a month into the college hoops season and we are getting a feel for where teams are at. Some early season favorites have solidified their positions, while others have shown there’s still work to do. Meanwhile, the list of second-tier contenders has started to come into view.

We can use this added information to our advantage, as these rankings become a more accurate representation of the college basketball landscape. In addition, if you’re so inclined, you can use this information to compare with the current odds to look for some value and find a bet that works for you. Let’s dig in.

1. Kansas (6-0) Last week: 1

Defeated Stanford

After careful consideration, the Jayhawks edged out Gonzaga for the top spot last week, and they stay there after a light week. Lagerald Vick has blossomed, averaging 20.8 points and knocking down 59.6 percent from deep. Dedric Lawson has met expectations, averaging a double-double, while Kansas has gotten solid production from freshmen Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes. Things are rolling along in Lawrence.

2. Gonzaga (8-0) Last week: 2

Defeated Creighton

The Bulldogs survived a scare from Creighton, earning a very good road win in an incredibly tough place to play. Zach Norvell Jr. continued to emerge, scoring 28 points to lead the comeback against Creighton. Gonzaga is getting solid production from eight players, giving support to Norvell Jr., Rui Hachimura, and Brandon Clarke. This team is legit.

3. Virginia (8-0) Last week: 3

Defeated No. 24 Maryland, Morgan State

Virginia followed up its victory over No. 25 Wisconsin with a win over No. 24 Maryland. Both the Wisconsin and Maryland wins are looking better and better, and the Cavaliers are now in position to cruise into ACC play.

4. Duke (7-1) Last week: 4

Defeated Indiana, Stetson

The Blue Devils beat Indiana in impressive fashion before posting a 54-point win over Stetson. Duke is the only team currently ranked in the top five of both offensive and defensive efficiency by KenPom. One more non-conference test awaits later this month in Texas Tech. Duke remains a Final Four favorite.

5. Michigan (8-0) Last week: 7

Defeated No. 11 North Carolina, No. 19 Purdue

The Wolverines continue their meteoric rise up the rankings with an incredibly impressive week that saw them beat two ranked teams. Michigan has now beaten three ranked opponents by an average of 21 points. This team was badly underrated to start the season, and it has quickly proven that.

6. Nevada (8-0)

Defeated Loyola Chicago, USC

The Wolf Pack fall a spot through no fault of their own, falling victim to the correction of our evaluation of Michigan. Nevada earned a pair of solid wins last week, and despite the slight drop in the rankings Nevada should remain on your radar.

7. Tennessee (6-1) Last week: 6

Defeated Eastern Kentucky, Texas A&M Corpus Christie

The Vols suffer a similar fate to Nevada, falling a spot despite two dominant wins over weak competition. They’ll have chance to move back up next week, as a date with Gonzaga looms on Sunday.

8. Kentucky (7-1) Last week: 8

Defeated Monmouth, UNC Greensboro

The Wildcats stay put after a 2-0 week. UNC Greensboro represents Kentucky’s best KenPom win of the season so far, and they’ll have a chance to top that when they take on Seton Hall this week. A game with UNC also lurks before SEC play begins.

9. Auburn (6-1) Last week: 10

Defeated Saint Peter’s

Auburn takes advantage of Michigan State’s loss to Louisville to move up a spot following a 50-point win over Saint Peters. The Tigers have a 26.4-point scoring margin this season and a favorable schedule on the horizon.

10. Wisconsin (8-1) Last week: NR

Defeated N.C. State, No. 14 Iowa, Rutgers

The Badgers make their debut after a pair of top 40 KenPom wins. The lone blemish on the resume is a close loss to Virginia. The defense has been elite while the offense has been more than serviceable. It’s time to keep an eye on the Badgers.

11. Michigan State (7-2) Last week: 9

Lost to Louisville, defeated Rutgers, No. 18 Iowa

A second loss sends the Spartans tumbling a bit, but they quickly responded by beating Rutgers and then trouncing Iowa by 22. The win over Iowa prevented a further drop and leaves Michigan State in position to climb back into the top 10 sooner than later.

12. Texas Tech (7-0) Last week: NR

Defeated Memphis

The Red Raiders join Wisconsin making their debut in the rankings. Texas Tech boasts the second-ranked defense per KenPom, allowing just 53.3 points per game. Jarrett Culver has been fantastic, averaging 19 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. A total of six Red Raiders average at least seven points per game. Tech has an excellent chance to remain undefeated heading into a Dec. 20 meeting with Duke.

13. Florida State (7-1) Last week: NR

Defeated No. 19 Purdue, Troy

The ‘Noles make a quick return to the rankings by rebounding from their loss to Villanova with a nice win over Purdue. Florida State doesn’t wow you with any aspect of its game, but just goes out and gets the job done. ACC play should help us to get a much better feel for the Seminoles.

14. North Carolina (6-2) Last week: 11

Lost to No. 7 Michigan

The Tar Heels were the latest victim of Michigan’s buzz saw, dropping three spots as a result. The offense continues to hum, while the defense still needs work. But North Carolina remains threatening and should be a factor come March.

15. Buffalo (7-0) Last week: NR

Defeated Milwaukee, San Francisco

Thanks to some stumbles from teams in the back end of the rankings, Buffalo achieves the rare feat of skipping the lurking section and jumping right into the rankings. In fairness, the Bulls have just missed the cut of the lurking section for several weeks, and with the results ahead of them last week and their own performance, they deserve a spot.

The win over San Francisco is better than it might appear to the casual fan, and Buffalo also holds a win over West Virginia. Two huge opportunities await later this month in dates with Syracuse and Marquette, as the conference schedule won’t offer many chances for marquee wins.

Dropped from rankings: Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Ohio State

Lurking: Arizona State, Kansas State, Iowa, Furman, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Maryland, Nebraska



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *