College Basketball Rankings: UConn Rises, Kentucky Slips, North Carolina Rebounds

We had a lot of great promotions last week and especially over the weekend which meant I had to reshuffle my ballot a lot. Things will be much quieter this week, but as we head into the new year, conference play will begin in full force, and we can begin the slow, steady, and absorbing march into March.

In the meantime, here’s the correct ranking of the top 25 teams in college basketball, as reported to the Associated Press Sunday night. Meet in the comments section. Please be nice!

Seth Davis’ Top 25 for Monday 19th December

Eliminated: Maryland (19), TCU (21)

Almost Famous: Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Creighton, Iowa, Miami, New Mexico, Penn State, Providence, San Diego State, Utah State, West Virginia, Xavier

Notes on voting

• The general narrative of the season was ‘no great teams’ and ‘no breakup’ but for this week at least we have a very clear Top 2. Purdue and UConn are two of the five remaining unbeaten teams but their schedules and performances have been against them exponentially more difficult than the other undefeated teams. It’s a safe bet that neither will lead the table through the NCAA tournament a la the ’76 Hoosiers, but while there are plenty of places on Purdue’s Big Ten calendar I can imagine the Boilermakers will lose the Big East UConn does not give the same type of exam. The Huskies’ toughest games are on December 31 in Xavier, January 11 in Marquette and February 11 in Creighton. These are all very winnable games.

• I had an intriguing mess to sort out with the rest of my top 9. There is never a single criterion I use, but this was the general order of priority: head-to-head result (with location being heavily considered), overall results (with heavy casualties being given special consideration), injuries (both for the team as well as opponents), placements in the metrics (as of Sunday afternoon) and recency bias. Tennessee defeated Kansas in Battle 4 Atlantis, but the Volunteers also lost to Colorado in Nashville while the Jayhawks had no other casualties. Arizona beat Tennessee on Saturday, but that was at home, the Vols were still without Josiah-Jordan James, and the game was close. Also, the Wildcats lost by 15 in Utah. Still, Arizona’s win over Tennessee came a day before my vote, while the Vols’ win over Kansas was more than three weeks ago. I went back and forth a few times and decided to agree with Arizona.

Gonzaga now has three losses, but all were Quad 1 NET games. The Zags defeated Alabama in Birmingham on Saturday, so I felt strongly that the Zags had to be ahead of the Crimson Tide. Houston hit the road and beat my No. 2 team, Virginia, but the Cavaliers were far from dominant even in their wins, and their best player, Reece Beekman, was hampered by a hamstring injury. Alabama won in Houston on December 10, so putting Houston and Virginia in order was pretty neat. For what it’s worth, of this group, the metrics like Houston the most (#2 NET, #2 KenPom, #1 BartTorvik) and Virginia the least (17, 11, and 20).

• UCLA had a great week, drilling Maryland at College Park and then controlling Kentucky at Madison Square Garden, leaving the Bruins several places ahead of the two teams they lost to just before Thanksgiving, Illinois and Baylor in Las Vegas. Illinois and Baylor have since had some good wins (versus Texas at Madison Square Garden, versus Gonzaga in South Dakota) and some not-so-great losses (Penn State at home, 26 points clear at Marquette).

• Arkansas is not an easy team to classify. The Razorbacks lost just three points to a full-fledged Creighton team in Maui, and their best win was against San Diego State in overtime the next day. They didn’t have their star freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. for those games, and while he’s back and has won Arkansas six straight games, just one of those wins came over a top 100 team from KenPom (Oklahoma on Dec. 10 in Tulsa). . The Razorbacks also recently lost one of their best players, sixth man Trevon Brazile, to a season-ending knee injury. They are #18 on the NET, #13 on KenPom, and #21 on BartTorvik. We’ll have a better idea of ​​how good this team is when they play in Auburn on Jan. 7 and at home in Alabama four days later, but in the meantime the Hogs are treading water.

• Do me a favor and hold back your questions, “How can Indiana stay in the same place after it’s blown out?” First and foremost, this game was on the road against this week’s No. 3 team. Second, the Hoosiers lost starting supervisor Xavier Johnson to a first-half ankle injury, and 6-6 freshman point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino returned after three games from a back injury. It would be foolish to penalize a team under these circumstances.

• Wisconsin is this year’s Providence – a team that wins many close games, causing them to rank extremely low on the metrics. The Badgers have two really good road wins, over Marquette and Iowa by three points each in overtime, and a five-point win at home over Maryland. They lost to Kansas at Battle 4 Atlantis and by three points at home to Wake Forest on November 29th. Because of all these close games, Wisconsin is #43 on the NET, #35 on KenPom. and No. 38 at BartTorvik, but it’s clear the Badgers are way better than this ranking suggests.

• As for the Bluebloods, North Carolina got back on my ballot thanks to their amazing run across Ohio State on Saturday. The Tar Heels were knocked out of the ladder on a four-game losing streak, but those games were all close and came against good teams. Those include a four overtime loss to Alabama in Portland and a road loss at Virginia Tech without Armando Bacot. North Carolina showed just how good it can be when they commit to defending and sharing the ball in the last eight minutes against the Buckeyes. Kentucky had to fall after losing to UCLA, but the Wildcats were contested late in the second half and the Bruins initially had the edge. Kentucky doesn’t have great wins, but they don’t have bad losses either, so there’s no reason to knock the Cats off the leaderboard — yet.

• As for the rest of my picks, I’ve liked TCU all season (at least the few times the Horned Frogs have been healthy), but their metric rankings are terrible: #84 NET, #43 KenPom , No 57 BartTorvik. I felt compelled to rank Marquette after his home win over Creighton, even though the Bluejays were without their best player, 7-foot junior Ryan Kalkbrenner. (See Hoop Thoughts for my tirade on the matter.) Marquette also won at Notre Dame and drilled Baylor at home, and his three losses gave the ranked teams a total of 11 points. Three of the Golden Eagles’ next four games are conference road games, and then they host UConn on Jan. 11.

• Regarding my “Almost Famous” group, keep an eye on Arizona State, which is a powerful indication that Texas Southern is not going undefeated. This is the best defensive team Bobby Hurley has had at Tempe, and the Sun Devils open the Pac-12 game with a home game against Arizona on New Year’s Eve. This is supposed to be fun.

(Top photo by Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky, center: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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