After a busy weekend in college hoops, there is plenty to discuss in this week’s Power 36 rankings.
First, here is my usual disclaimer — the top 16 seeds announced by the DI Men’s Basketball committee on Saturday have no correlation to these rankings. The seeding of the NCAA tournament has no direct tie to my Power 36 or the AP poll.
That’s why Tennessee remains my No. 1 but Duke is the No. 1 overall seed. The Vols are still playing the best basketball in the country while Duke has been beaten more recently. But Duke’s resume is stronger.
Ranking and seeding aren’t the same.
But that shouldn’t stop anyone from debating my selections.
On to the debate:
1.Tennessee (1): The Vols are the hottest team in the country with 18 wins in a row and have met every challenge. The next one is Saturday at Kentucky in what should be the game of the day
2. Duke (2): Dominant. The road win at Virginia may go down as one of the best of the country for any team.
3. Gonzaga (3): The Zags are on a 14-game win streak and are absolutely destroying the competition in the WCC. The Zags are a one seed and aren’t likely to give it up anytime soon.
4. Kentucky (5): The Wildcats have won 10 in a row, and are a solid two seed and if they knock off LSU, and can push for a one seed if they beat Tennessee.
5. Virginia (4): The Cavs got swept by Duke. But those are the only losses for the season for a team still looking like a title contender.
6. Nevada (6): The Wolf Pack avenged the New Mexico loss. My prediction is Nevada doesn’t lose again in the Mountain West.
7. Michigan (11): The Wolverines avenged the Wisconsin loss with a furious finish Saturday. Charles Matthews took over offensively while Jon Teske was the X-factor defensively.
8. Purdue (9): The Boilermakers have won eight in a row and have the schedule to possibly win the league with no more games against Michigan or Michigan State.
9. Houston (10): Won eight in a row and knocked off Cincinnati, its toughest competitor for the AAC title.
10. North Carolina (13): The Tar Heels have won seven in a row, setting up a monster showdown with Duke on Feb. 20.
11. Marquette (12): The Golden Eagles looked stellar in the win over Nova as Markus Howard put himself firmly in the pole position for conference player of the year. But losing at home to St. John’s took a bit of air out of the Nova game since it wasn’t going to be for first place.
12. Michigan State (8): The Spartans ended the three-game slide by rocking Minnesota and re-asserting themselves as a Big Ten title contender.
13. Villanova (7): The Wildcats have one loss in the Big East and it came last Saturday at Marquette. The Big East title still goes through the Main Line.
14. Kansas State (21): The Wildcats are now the frontrunner to win the Big 12.
15. Iowa (23): The Hawkeyes won at Indiana and beat Northwestern at the buzzer. Not a bad week at all.
MARCH MADNESS GUIDE: What is the selection committee, and who’s on it?
16. Iowa State (24): The Cyclones may have the best shot at challenging Kansas State for the title if it’s not Kansas.
17. Wisconsin (15): The Badgers were within a few minutes of getting a sweep of Michigan. But alas Wisconsin couldn’t close it out. That’s fine. Wisconsin is still in the race for a top four finish.
18. LSU (17): The Tigers have won two in a row and are faced with a showdown at Kentucky this week.
19. Washington (14): The Huskies beat Arizona but then were stunned by Arizona State, keeping the Sun Devils’ hopes alive and denying Washington from an unbeaten Pac-12 season.
20. Kansas (19): The Jayhawks have been decimated upfront but have Dedric Lawson still playing like a first-team all-American.
2019 NCAA tournament: Printable bracket
21. Louisville (16): Chris Mack is the favorite for ACC coach of the year with the Cardinals sitting two games out of first.
22. Maryland (27): The Terps get a shot at Michigan Saturday. Beat Michigan, and Maryland can still win the Big Ten.
#MarchMadness Top 16 Seeds!
7. North Carolina
8. Michigan State
13. Iowa State
16. Wisconsin#BracketPreview pic.twitter.com/XBYwOm8uqs
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 9, 2019
23. Florida State (29): The Seminoles are once again back to being hard to figure, winning five in a row.
24. Syracuse (26): The Orange won’t sweat out Selection Sunday this season. But where to seed them will be a question.
25. Baylor (18): The Bears were rolling until they faced Kansas State, the new kings of the Big 12 — for now.
26. Cincinnati (22): The Bearcats lost to Houston, but are still a threat to be a tough out in March.
27. Texas Tech (32): The Red Raiders have won two in a row and climbed back into the race for a top-two finish.
28. Buffalo (31): The Bulls are holding strong in my Power 36 as the team outside a power league not named Gonzaga or Nevada that is most likely to get to the Sweet 16.
29. Ohio State (NR): Ohio State won at Indiana Sunday, have won three in a row and are back in a more comfortable position for a bid.
30. Virginia Tech (20): Justin Robinson’s injury has obviously changed this team. So, no one should be surprised with the past two losses.
DUKE BASKETBALL: Tracking the Blue Devils grueling February schedule
31. Belmont (34): The Bruins have won seven in a row and will be a team nobody will want to face in the first round.
32. Clemson (NR): The Tigers beat Virginia Tech and are suddenly 5-5 in the ACC and back in the hunt for a bid.
33. Lipscomb (36): The Bisons have won 11 in a row and should be on everyone’s list as a possible upset team.
34. Texas (NR): The Longhorns have won two in a row and are starting to build a stronger resume.
35. TCU (NR): The Horned Frogs ended their skid with a two-game win streak and now looked poised for a strong second-half to the Big 12.
36. Wofford (NR): The Terriers have won 12 in a row in the SoCon and are a team few will want to face in the NCAA tournament.
BREAKING RECORDS: Wofford’s Fletcher Magee passes J.J. Redick in career 3-pointers made
Dropped out: Mississippi State (25), Davidson (30), Auburn (33), Arizona State (35).
The Weekly Honors
Team of the Week
Duke: The Blue Devils got the season sweep of Virginia with both teams at full strength. Duke made 13 3s in the win over Virginia. Don’t expect that every time out. But if the Blue Devils can shoot close to that they will be even more intimidating. Earlier in the week, Duke ran away from Boston College in the second half. Duke now holds the spot as the No. 1 overall seed. Duke has earned and deserves the spot.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 11, 2019
Player of the Week
Robert Franks, Sr., F, Washington State: Franks scored 34 points in an upset at Arizona State and then 31 in the upset at Arizona. The Cougars pulled off the rare road Arizona sweep — the first time Washington State had done so since 2007. Franks had 20-plus points in the first half of each of the two games. He was 7 of 10 on 3s at Arizona. Washington State hadn’t swept a weekend Pac-12 series since 2011. The Cougars had lost five in a row and 11 of 12 before the weekend sweep in Arizona. But Franks had done his part, he is averaging 22 points a game.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 11, 2019
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga: Clarke had two impressive lines this week with 24 points, six boards and three blocks in a 94-46 win over Saint Mary’s. He scored 20 with 16 boards and five blocks in a 92-62 win over San Francisco.
Dylan Windler, Belmont: Windler scored 41 in 40 minutes in a win at Morehead State. He scored 20 in a road win at Eastern Kentucky. Belmont has won seven in a row and is in a three-way tie with Murray State and Austin Peay for the top of the OVC, setting up quite a showdown for the top spot in the tournament.
PJ Washington, Kentucky: The Wildcats are rolling into a showdown week against LSU and Tennessee. Washington helped sweep South Carolina and a road game at Mississippi State with 20 and 23, points, respectively.
Jordan Bohannon, Iowa: Bohannon hit the game-winning 3-pointer to beat Northwestern Sunday and finished with 15. Earlier in the week, he scored 25 and made five 3s in a road win at Indiana.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Illinois: Few players play with as much passion and enjoyment as Bezhanishvili. Brad Underwood said he would have a major impact and he has the past month. He had his break out game with 35 points and seven boards in the Illini win over Rutgers — Illinois’ fifth Big Ten win. He scored a timely 16 in an upset win over Michigan State earlier in the week.
Most significant win: The Duke win over Virginia was already taken to highlight the team of the week. So, the next best one was Marquette over Villanova hours after the selection committee tabbed the Golden Eagles over Nova in the top 16 rankings. The win over the Wildcats came after Marquette suffered the season sweep by St. John’s. Marquette is now one game back of Nova with one more shot at the Wildcats before the end of the season.
The rest of the Big East. Nova and Marquette are running away with the title and are the only two teams over .500. St. John’s and Seton Hall have quality wins, but have struggled to find consistency. They are two of five teams at 5-6. A poor conference record isn’t a disqualification for a bid. But it does mean they both have a lot of work to do to feel secure about a bid.
Keep an eye on…
Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ win over Washington gives ASU two quality wins. The win over Kansas at home still has shelf life and if the Pac-12 is going to get two bids the only other possibility is ASU.
Clemson: The Tigers have won four in a row and are creeping back into contention for an NCAA tournament bid at 5-5 in the ACC and 15-8 overall. The win over Virginia Tech gives Clemson a much-needed high-profile win.