Well ladies and gents. I’m back. After a month layoff with lots of relaxation, Christmas shenanigans, and a tiny bit of beer, it’s time to get crackin’.
When I left you last, I said we would be starting on college hoops power rankings starting the week after the last article. Well, life happened. Also beer and laziness. Regardless, we will be back on schedule and giving you your weekly dose of TBR’s top 10 college shooty hoops power rankings.
With no further hesitation, let’s roll.
1. Villanova Wildcats
Don’t look now. The defending national champs are looking strong once again. Now I’ll be honest, I thought the top spot was a toss up between ‘Nova and Kansas but I’ll give the nod to Villanova for the intangibles and having been there before. Josh Hart is being Josh Hart. Being clutch and knocking down big shots while manufacturing open looks for his teammates. With the core of that national championship team mainly back for another year, the Wildcats are the ones to beat.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
Like I said. It was a toss up for the top spot. Kansas looks like the favorite (AGAIN) for the Big 12 regular season title, but it’s not without their flaws. KU barely escaped a scrappy K-State squad in Phog Allen thanks to an extremely questionable buzzer beating layup. Watch the video, you’ll know. That said, finding ways to win no matter the circumstance is just how Bill Self and the Jayhawks roll. And as long as you win, it doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs
You’re screaming at your screen right now because UCLA and Lonzo Ball aren’t at the 3 spot. And you may have a point. But damn it I have a point too. Gonzaga is undefeated.Who else can say that? Not UCLA. Don’t give me the whole garbage about how Gonzaga plays nobody except St. Mary’s either. It’s college basketball. Going undefeated so far, especially with a squad that may not be as talented as other squads, is a huge accomplishment. Will they choke again in the NCAA tournament again? We will see. As it stands, they deserve a spot in the top three.
4. UCLA Bruins
I almost put Kentucky here. That was until I remembered their near debacle against Mississippi State. We’ll get to that in a moment. UCLA has been stellar this season. Lonzo Ball can, well, ball. The chemistry seems to be coming together quicker than anyone expected, and that’s going to make the Bruins a tough out come March. Expect the Bruins to run through the Pac 12 with ease as there really isn’t much of a battle at the top. They’re young so they may fall asleep on someone who will surprise them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the top teams in the nation.
5. Baylor Bears
Say whaaaaaaaaaaaattt?! Baylor? The Baylor team who went to Morgantown and got stomped by West Virginia? You bet. This team is MUCH better than they showed last Tuesday. Cut them a break. They had to go against arguably the best defense in the nation who plays a suffocating press, on the road. Sometimes you just get beat. Jonathan Motley and co. are the real deal and should not be slept on. Their length by itself makes them a terrible matchup for a majority of teams. This team will not go away quietly come tournament time and will contend for the Big 12 title.
6. Kentucky Wildcats
You thoughtI was going to put them at #5 didn’t you? Nope. Don’t get me wrong, Kentucky is as talented as any other team on this list. They also have John Calipari which is something within itself. But the wildcats are playing exactly like what they are. Young. Some stretches, they seem like the best team in the nation. Other times they don’t look like even a 4-seed. Take the last game against Mississippi State. UK took a big lead into halftime and into the second half. Then they got complacent,thinking it was in the bag. Nope. The Bulldogs made a charge by forcing turnovers and watching Kentucky and Malik Monk take awful shots early in the shot clock. Kentucky’s time in March will go one of two ways. A deep run at least into the Elite 8. Or an early first weekend exit.
7. Creighton Bluejays
I love mid-majors. I love when they can compete. And this team can compete. The birds can shoot the absolute lights out. That’s not just one or two players. They have at least five who can stroke it against you and make you pay for any defensive lapse. Watch this team play and you’ll know why this team will make a charge toward a 1-seed. Hopefully the committee judges the Bluejays by the eye test. Because this team is even better than they look on paper.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia is scary. And I mean that in good and bad ways. Let’s start with the bad. WVU can let their guard down at times. the games against Temple, Texas Tech, and Texas are prime examples. Slow starts to the beginning of halves really hurt the Mountaineers in those games as they lost two (Temple, Texas Tech) and barely escaped on the road at Texas. If the Mountaineers keep taking their foot off the pedal, they can let anyone stick with them in games. Which is not ideal, especially as they stakes grow higher. Let’s look at the good. When this team does put the pedal down and keep it down, they could be the toughest team to face in the nation. Their press is brutal. Ask Baylor as the Mountaineers turned over the then #1 ranked Bears 29 (!!) times. They force turnovers on almost 33% of defensive possessions which would be a record according to KenPom if they kept up that pace. WVU is also sneakier than you think on offense. In recent years, they wouldn’t be able to beat anyone if they just ran a half court game and didn’t press. Not this year. This is proven by how they went into Charlottesville and played at Virginia’s pace and style of play. And won by 9. If WVU plays how they can and how Bob Huggins wants them to, they could make a deep run in March and contend for the Big 12 regular season title along with Baylor and Kansas.
9. Florida State Seminoles
One of the more surprising teams of season is Florida State. Ranked 24th around the start of the season, this team has shot their way up to the top 10. And for good reason. This team is a jack of all trades. Great perimeter D? They’ll beat you inside. Great interior D? They’ll stretch you out by shooting from distance. You’re good at shooting? They’ll have a hand in your face the whole way. Great at banging down low? They’ll clog the pain on you. this team has all the tools. Don’t be surprised if you continue to see this team rise.
10. North Carolina Tar Heels
Roy Williams has a team with a ton of talent. Sometimes they can be undisciplined. Don’t get me wrong, this team is good and will be a rough matchup for anyone. but they have the same problem as Kentucky. They play young. On their best days they can beat anyone, on their worst days they could lose to University of American Samoa (not even a thing but whatever). Believe me, I think this team is pretty darn good. As long as Roy Williams can get his teams to play up to their capability, the Tar Heels can be a top 3 team. Until they do that consistently, they’re going to hover around the 10 spot.