Wednesday night felt like close to the best night of college basketball through the first three-plus weeks of the season. And did it ever have an impact on this week's power rankings. Undefeated teams Florida, BYU and Texas Tech took their first Ls. NC State needed four overtimes at home to get over Nebraska. Michigan State looked dandy against Louisville. Michigan looked defective against North Carolina. Virginia Tech dodged a third straight loss and, in the process, gave Maryland its third loss.
Today we have the second edition of the Hey Nineteen of this 2021-22 season. In the event you missed last week's because of Thanksgiving, I'll carefully remind readers once again that these power rankings are unlike any other power rankings you'll encounter. This is a temperature gauge of sorts, a listing of teams that are (more or less) playing the best as of late. As an example, I believe Duke is better than Iowa. But Iowa hasn't lost yet and just won on the road to remain undefeated. Duke took a road loss, so it gets knocked down a couple of pegs for now. Thus: Iowa is ahead of Duke in this week's rankings. Capiche? Excellent.
Hey Nineteen Power Rankings
My rankings are a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most interesting teams in college basketball, combining team quality with win quality but also leaving no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks.
|Record: 7-0 | Last week: 2nd. In light of Duke's loss to Ohio State Tuesday, there's no debate to have. Purdue has scored at least 80 points and made better than 50% of its shots and 35% of its 3-point attempts in every game. Matt Painter's club beat a shorthanded Florida State team by 28 on Tuesday. Purdue has the No. 1-rated offense at KenPom, and Jaden Ivey's making 43.3% of his shots beyond the arc. Nothing but elite vibes right now with the Boilers.|
|Record: 7-0 | Last week: 4th. Read the sign above: win streaks often mean a lot in these parts. Baylor's been dominant, and if anything still cruised, if not under the radar, then just on the outskirts of it. Kind of unbelievable that's the case. The Bears' most recent action was their Battle 4 Atlantis championship over Thanksgiving weekend, the best win coming vs. Michigan State in the title game. The Bears' next big game isn't for 10 days: Villanova comes to town on Dec. 12.|
|Record: 7-1 | Last week: 1st. An encouraging sign for college basketball: Gonzaga-Duke, which tipped at approximately 10:40 p.m. ET on the Friday after Thanksgiving, was the highest-rated regular season college basketball game on ESPN's networks since March 2019. Gonzaga's 84-81 loss in Las Vegas gave us the best game of this young season. I won't dock GU too badly for losing a 40-minute cooker. It looks like the Zags took a little out of Duke, too. |
|Record: 6-0 | Last week: 5th. The Wildcats are itching to play but they'll have to wait until Saturday (at Oregon State) because their scheduled Thursday home game vs. Washington was postponed due to COVID issues with the Huskies. On the floor, Tommy Lloyd has this team sharing the ball beautifully. The Wildcats are assisting on 73.8% of their baskets, the best rate (comfortably) in the sport. It's led to a scoring margin of +33.8. .|
|Record: 7-0. | Last week: 8th. Undefeated, and yet, if you're not a USC fan or someone dialed into the Pac-12, did you even know? That's why you're stopping by here every Thursday to get caught up. USC easily dismissed Utah 93-73 late Wednesday night. The Trojans are allowing 60.4 ppg. On Saturday Southern Cal will play Washington State, a team it's won 10 straight against. But Wazzu could be a tournament team this season, so that might be a battle. |
|Record: 6-0 | Last week: 13th. The Razorbacks scoot up high and benefit for two reasons at the moment: 1) a number of other teams would've been before them had they not lost in the past few days, and 2) Arkansas' workable schedule to this point has helped them avoid a scratch. Eric Musselman's team plays with vigor but it does have a weak point that needs immediate attention. The Hogs are making merely 28.8% of their 3-point attempts. |
|Record: 6-1 | Last week: 12th. Brad Davison went for 27 points in Wednesday night's win at Georgia Tech, while the team's leading scorer, Johnny Davis (19.3 ppg), had 15. Tech played well enough but it wasn't enough. Signs like that indicate the Badgers have a reliable team. There were not big expectations for Bucky entering this season, but I've already seen enough. This band will be a factor in the Big Ten. |
|Record: 6-0 | Last week: 19th. The Tigers, who beat Ohio by 15 on Wednesday night, don't play again until Dec. 11 against Georgia Tech. If LSU wins that game it will be 9-0 for the first time since 1999-00, when it began 13-0. Remember, this team lost Adam Miller, the Illinois transfer who was expected to play a major role. He tore his ACL, but LSU hasn't been hampered yet by that. Will Wade could have a top-four team in the SEC yet again.|
|Record: 7-0 | Last week: N/R. That was a morale-building win for the Hawkeyes Monday night at Virginia. Iowa led 40-19 at one point, then gave up the lead with 30 seconds remaining. Joe Toussaint hit a gutty off-the-glass shot with a few seconds remaining to beat Virginia at Virginia. We don't see that often. Similar to Wisconsin, there wasn't a lot of expectation outside this program for what it would do this season. Fran McCaffery's guys have other ideas. |
|Record: 7-1. Last week: 6th. Despite Duke's loss at Ohio State, its 19-4 Big Ten/ACC Challenge record is still the best of any school in the history of the event. Duke is 219-36 as the No. 1-ranked team under Mike Krzyzewski, and this week is the school's 145th time being ranked No. 1, which is the most in AP Top 25 history. Question is, will Duke find its way back there again before the end of the season? OSU is the highest-ranked KenPom team Duke is scheduled to face the rest of the season. |
|Record: 8-0. Last week: 14th. There are three 8-0 teams in men's college basketball. The first is LSU, the second are these guys, the third you'll see in just a moment. The Rams only have one season in the past 25 with an 8-0 start. It came in 2014-15, when the team started 14-0. CSU was 27-6 after losing in the Mountain West tournament that year and didn't receive an at-large bid. If this team has six or fewer losses and doesn't get the automatic bid in 2022, it would be a shock. It would be almost impossible if CSU can beat Saint Mary's on Saturday. Great mid-major matchup. |
|Record: 7-0. Last week: N/R. The Cyclones were featured in this week's debut edition of the Court Report, which also highlighted undefeated Minnesota (the Gophers just missed making the cut). If you told me a month ago that I'd be ranking Iowa State by the second iteration of the Hey Nineteen I would have told you it's time to quit drugs. What a plot twist this group is. Coach T.J. Otzelberger told me, "We're not going out trying to prepare for our opponents as much as we're trying to do what we do better four our guys and are dialed into that. It isn't a secret formula." |
|Record: 6-1. Last week: 16th. The Cougars are the No. 4 team at KenPom (remember, plenty of preseason bias is still informing those rankings for another month). The only scratch is the two-point loss in the Maui Invitational title game to Wisconsin, which could age well. The Cougars rank No. 1 in defensive efficiency (87.9) and have two gimme games upcoming against Bryant and Alcorn State.|
|Record: 6-1 | Last week: 5th. The Gators tumble a bit, but a non-embarrassing loss on the road against a solid Oklahoma team isn't reason to wildly overreact. If anything, the win over Ohio State eight days ago looks even better. Mike White has five players averaging between 9.7 and 14.7 points. If UF can curb its turnovers a bit, it'll be a week-over-week-over-week top 25 team. |
|Record: 7-1 | Last week: 18th. The no-show vs. Gonzaga on Nov. 23 didn't have lingering effects. The Bruins won at UNLV by 22 points four days later, then casually took care of Colorado at home Wednesday night, 73-61. There's an interesting stretch upcoming, as three of this team's next four games will not be at home: at Washington on Sunday, then at Marquette Dec. 11 and vs. UNC in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 18. |
|Record: 7-1 | Last week: N/R. The Friars could be the most undervalued power-conference team at the moment. While the lone loss is gross (58-40 against Virginia in Newark, New Jersey), PC has three wins over top-45 KenPom teams: Wisconsin on the road, Northwestern on a neutral and Texas Tech at home. If the Friars can take care of business at home Saturday against beloved hated rival URI, this team needs to be ranked in the AP poll come Monday. |
|Record: 8-0. Last week: N/R. The third 8-0 team, as referenced above. Todd Golden's Dons have their best start to a season since 1976-77. Two wins came in Las Vegas against Towson and UAB. USF has also defeated Davidson and Nevada. Role player Julian Rishwain has taken 27 3s and made 18 of them. His 66.7% clip is No. 1 in 3-point accuracy in college hoops. Dons have NCAA tourney potential, but so much work left to do.|
|Record: 7-1 | Last week: N/R. Nice start for Porter Moser at his new school. The Sooners' only loss is by three points against a good Utah State team. The Sooners played in control and in command Wednesday night and were rewarded with a 74-67 home win over Florida because of it. OU is making 61% of its shots inside the 3-point line, a characteristic that was defining during his time at Loyola Chicago. |
|Record: 7-1. Last week: 9th. The Huskies take a 10-spot drop for losing to Michigan State (in an ugly game) at the Battle 4 Atlantis, then pulling out an OT win against up-and-down VCU and scraping along Tuesday night to be lowly UMES by nine. Adama Sanogo (15.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has been as good as promised in the preseason. UConn will remain at this party if it can win at West Virginia next Wednesday.|