Power Rankings: Statement Wins Set Up a Pivotal Week of Conference Play
The Super Bowl is over and it's college basketball's time to shine—at least, when the NBA isn't making Internet-breaking trades—and what better way to celebrate that with a packed week of exciting games? But before we get to the good stuff (which includes Duke-Virginia, Marquette-Villanova and Wisconsin-Michigan), it's time to look back at the previous week and see how it altered perceptions and created movement among the nation's current top 25 teams.
Our latest Power Rankings are below, but first, some notable performances—for better or for worse—from last edition's top 25...
Five on the Rise
The five most impressive team performances of the last week:
Iowa: Here's a stat for you: Outside of a Dec. 15 win over Northern Iowa, a team with an offense ranked outside the top 200 in efficiency, the 0.81 points per possession scored by Michigan in Iowa City on Friday were the lowest anyone scored against the Hawkeyes all season. The Wolverines' offense may be going through some struggles lately, but that's still a monumental achievement for an Iowa team that has the Big Ten's worst defense and needs to be able to get stops if it wants to achieve its goals this season.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels avenged their embarrassing January home loss to Louisville with a victory at the KFC Yum! Center over the weekend, getting 20 points from Luke Maye and 19 from Cameron Johnson in the win. UNC hasn't lost since that defeat to the Cardinals in Chapel Hill, and will be able to enter its Feb. 11 battle with Virginia on a seven-game winning streak if it gets past NC State and Miami this week. At 7–1, North Carolina is right in the thick of the ACC race, but with three games remaining against the Cavaliers and Duke, it can't afford slip-ups elsewhere.
Washington: It's been a while since we've talked about a Pac-12 team in a positive manner in this space. Nine games into the conference slate, the Huskies have assumed the mantle of the class of the league thanks to their stingy defense, though tricky road games at Arizona and Arizona State await this week. If Washington gets through those unscathed, it will further build a potential at-large case should it stumble in the Pac-12 tournament.
Duke: The Zion Williamson Show made mince meat of St. John's at Cameron Indoor on Saturday, blitzing the Red Storm for a 30-point win (a margin that could've been higher if Duke wanted). Williamson had 29 in the win, the sixth straight game where he scored at least 22, and he's missed just seven of his last 47 two-point shots. Pretty, pretty good.
Virginia Tech: This is mostly an excuse to talk about the most bizarre final score of the entire season: Virginia Tech 47, NC State 24. Yes, 24. The Hokies' normally powerful offense had its lowest point (47) and second-lowest points per possession (0.89) outputs of the year, yet Tech still won the game by 23 points. Virginia Tech's defensive efficiency jumped from No. 50 to all the way up to No. 16 on kenpom.com as a result, which before Saturday we would've thought was impossible to do based off one game in February. Wild times in the ACC.
Not Their Best Work
Three teams from last week's top 25 that had a bad or middling week:
Michigan State: Losing at home to an Indiana team that had lost seven straight and only got 13 minutes out of Juwan Morgan before he left with injury is ... rough. The Spartans have now lost back-to-back Big Ten games after winning 21 straight, and lost at the Breslin Center for the first time in over a year. Earlier in the week, they also got the tough news that Joshua Langford, who hasn't played since Dec. 29, will not return this season. MSU had been doing fine without him before the last two weekends, but it obviously would've been a boon to get a player of his caliber back. In better news for the Spartans, they now have two quite winnable games this week to try to reset for the stretch run.
Kansas: The Jayhawks had another up-and-down week, scoring 63 points in a 10-point loss at Texas before rebounding nicely with a commanding home win over Texas Tech (before the latter, however, they took a big hit when the NCAA announced that Silvio de Sousa will be ineligible through the end of the 2019–20 season). Kansas is now 1–5 in true road games and faces a pivotal clash with Kansas State in Manhattan on Tuesday. At 6–3, the Jayhawks are still firmly in the Big 12 race, but if they can't get right away from Allen Fieldhouse, they're going to need an awful lot of help from others to win their 15th straight crown.
Buffalo: Pour one out for the Bulls, who finally (and narrowly) dropped out of our power rankings after another tough loss on the road, this time to Bowling Green. Don't let Buffalo's stumbles of late trick you into thinking this team shouldn't be feared in March; in fact, assuming the Bulls get into the field, the fact that their seeding ceiling has been lowered means they could be a particularly unpleasent first-round matchup. This team has plenty of talent, but for the purposes of power rankings, we couldn't ignore two losses to teams just outside the kenpom top 100 in the last two weeks.
Mid-Major Thumbs Up
A mid-major team outside the top 25 that nonetheless deserves praise for its week:
Northeastern: This season hasn't gone quite as expected for the Huskies, who were the Colonial Athletic Association favorite back in the preseason but have nine overall losses and only one path to the NCAA tournament, but they got a big win on Saturday by beating Hofstra by 14 to end what was the nation's longest winning streak. Northeastern held Justin Wright-Foreman, the country's third-leading scorer, to just 15 points, while Vasa Pusica poured in 24 points and eight rebounds for the home side. The Pride are still in the driver's seat in the CAA despite the loss, but the Huskies are looming at two games back. Even more importantly, both sides have a win in the series should they meet in a rubber match with a trip to the Big Dance on the line.
Top 25 Power Rankings
Last Week (1): beat South Carolina, beat Texas A&M
Up Next: vs. Missouri, vs. Florida
Last Week (2): beat Notre Dame, beat St. John's
Up Next: vs. Boston College, at Virginia
Last Week (3): beat NC State, beat Miami
Up Next: vs. Duke
Last Week (5): beat BYU, beat San Diego
Up Next: vs. San Francisco, vs. St. Mary's
Last Week (6): beat Vanderbilt, beat Florida
Up Next: vs. South Carolina, at Mississippi State
Last Week (7): beat UNLV, beat Boise State
Up Next: at Colorado State, vs. New Mexico
Last Week (4): beat Ohio State, lost to Iowa
Up Next: at Rutgers, vs. Wisconsin
North Carolina (17–4)
Last Week (9): beat Georgia Tech, beat Louisville
Up Next: vs. NC State, vs. Miami
Last Week (10): beat Butler
Up Next: vs. St. John's, vs. Villanova
Last Week (12): beat Butler, beat Seton Hall
Up Next: vs. Creighton, at Marquette
Michigan State (18–4)
Last Week (8): lost to Indiana
Up Next: at Illinois, vs. Minnesota
Virginia Tech (18–3)
Last Week (13): beat Miami, beat NC State
Up Next: vs. Louisville, at Clemson
Last Week (14): beat Temple
Up Next: at UCF, vs. Cincinnati
Last Week (11): lost to Texas, beat Texas Tech
Up Next: at Kansas State, vs. Oklahoma State
Last Week (15): beat Penn State, beat Minnesota
Up Next: vs. Nebraska
Iowa State (17–5)
Last Week (20): beat West Virginia, beat Texas
Up Next: at Oklahoma, vs. TCU
Last Week (22): beat Nebraska, beat Maryland
Up Next: at Minnesota, at Michigan
Last Week (16): beat Wake Forest, lost to North Carolina
Up Next: at Virginia Tech, at Florida State
Last Week (23): beat SMU
Up Next: at Memphis, at Houston
Last Week (NR): beat Oklahoma, beat TCU
Up Next: at Texas, vs. Kansas State
Last Week (21): beat Michigan
Up Next: at Indiana, vs. Northwestern
Last Week (18): beat Texas A&M, lost to Arkansas
Up Next: at Mississippi State, vs. Auburn
Texas Tech (17–5)
Last Week (19): beat TCU, lost to Kansas
Up Next: vs. West Virginia, at Oklahoma
Last Week (25): beat Missouri, beat Alabama
Up Next: vs. Florida, at LSU
Last Week (24): beat USC, beat UCLA
Up Next: at Arizona, at Arizona State
Dropped Out: Buffalo, Mississippi State, Maryland.
Next Man Up: Florida State, Buffalo, Maryland.