Previewing your college hoops weekend



Sat. 2:00 pm: Cleveland State @ West Virginia: If every college basketball team in Division I was to be ranked strictly according to record, Cleveland State would be the No. 1 team in the country. The Vikings are currently the only team in the country sitting at 12-0. Granted, that 12-0 hasn’t come against high-major programs — hell, if we discounted non D-I wins, CSU would be a measly 10-0 — but they have beaten some pretty good teams, like Iona and Robert Morris.

West Virginia hasn’t really been themselves this season. Bob Huggins has had issues getting the guys on his team to play his way. Casey Mitchell, who was so good early in the season, has seen the bench more than he has the court the last two games has he continues to work through issues doing what Huggins’ asks. Truck Bryant was benched for a game. Kevin Jones hasn’t really improved as much as people had hoped. Deniz Kilicli is a quality post presence, but he hasn’t quite figured out how to play in Huggins system. The result has been some lackluster performances the past week.

Cleveland State is led by the high-scoring Norris Cole, who comes into this one averaging 21.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.4 apg and 2.3 spg. If WVU lets him get going and continues their struggles, the Vikings may get their first big win of the season.


Sat. 12:00 pm: Oakland @ Michigan: Do I really need to explain this one? Oakland is coming off of close losses to Illinois and Michigan State and a road win against Tennessee. Michigan just isn’t very good. Would this really be considered an upset?

Sat. 1:00 pm: UCF @ Miami FL: The Golden Knights are looking to stake a claim as the best basketball team in the state of Florida. They already own a win over the Gators, and on Saturday they take their shot at the Hurricanes. Miami has a couple of talented guards in Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant as well as a beast in the paint in Reggie Johnson. But there is a reason UCF is still undefeated. Donnie Jones has a good basketball team, led by Marcus Jordan, the elder son of Michael Jordan.

Sat. 2:00 pm: South Carolina @ No. 2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are clearly the more talented team. Jared Sullinger is a monster on the block, and when his teammates are getting him the ball in good spots, he will be unstoppable for the Gamecocks. David Lighty is the ultimate senior leader and glue guy, capable of going for 20 on a given night. Jon Diebler, who hit nine straight threes in a game this week, and William Buford are also capable of carrying this team. But each member of the Buckeyes have had a habit of not showing up some nights. If that happens, USC has a shot. They are a plucky team led by the underrated Bruce Ellington, a talented freshman point guard.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Iona @ No. 10 Syracuse: The Orange have been playing as well as anyone in the country the past two weeks. Rick Jackson has become a monster on the block, Scoop Jardine is playing well, and this team is really locking down defensively. But Iona has a kid named Optimus Prime. Mike Glover, a JuCo transfer and the younger brother of former St. John’s star Anthony Glover, is currently averaging 22.4 ppg and 9.6 rpg. He had double-doubles where he scored 39 points and 30 points in the Gael’s last two games, and Iona, after starting the season 0-3, has reeled off seven straight wins.

Sat. 10:00 pm: UC Santa Barbara @ No. 10 San Diego State: On Wednesday, we saw these Gauchos knock off UNLV by playing a zone and enticing the Rebels to force threes against them. Against San Diego State, the issue won’t be whether or not the Aztecs can hit those threes, it will be whether or not UCSB can box out the big and athletic front line of SDSU. The Gauchos have two studs in Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally, while two SDSU starters — Kawhi Leonard and Chase Tapley — missed their last game with the flu.


Sat. 3:30 pm: No. 6 Kansas State @ No. 24 Florida: Both of these teams really need this win. Kansas State has just one loss on the season — to No. 1 Duke — but the Wildcats have been a hot mess. (That’s how the cool kids say it these days, right?) Jacob Pullen isn’t hitting his threes and isn’t getting to the line, seeing his scoring average drop three points this season. Outside of Pullen the Wildcats haven’t found a consistent second option, and with guys like Wally Judge (currently sitting out) and Curtis Kelly missing time, K-State hasn’t put it all together yet. Florida, on the other hand, is still waiting for Kenny Boynton to find his stroke and are trying to establish an identity for themselves. Is Chandler Parsons going to grow into his potential? Is Erving Walker a point guard? How good are their bigs? The two keys to this game — can Florida’s guard slow down Pullen, and can Kansas State’s bigs outplay an improved Florida front line?

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 25 Texas @ UNC: There will be a ton of talent on the floor when Texas takes on UNC, but both have these teams have struggled to put together any kind of consistency the past two seasons. Texas beat Illinois then lost by 17 to USC. The Tar Heels have not looked impressive at all this season, but they own a win over Kentucky. Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller will be a fun matchup to watch inside, as will Jordan Hamilton and Harrison Barnes on the perimeter. The real issue here, however, is that both teams could really use this win to get back on track with conference play approaching.

Sat. 4:30 pm: Gonzaga @ No. 9 Baylor: The Zags are still looking to land a marquee win this season. They’ve struggled against seemingly everyone of their quality opponents. Baylor, on the other hand, still hasn’t played anyone, but this team looks like they are actually living up to the hype. LaceDarius Dunn is arguably the best all-around shooter in the country, AJ Walton is developing nicely as a point guard, and that front line is as long and athletic as ever. The key for Gonzaga is going to be whether or not they can penetrate and attack the Baylor zone. The Zags are not good enough shooters to launch threes and beat the Bears. As a bonus, seeing Elias Harris go up against Quincy Acy and Perry Jones will be a good gauge for NBA scouts to see what he can do at the next level.

Sat. 5:30 pm: No. 18 BYU @ UCLA: I’m not ready to totally sandbag UCLA just yet. I like the pieces they have on their team, especially Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith. Nelson is athletic and active at the four, and Smith is a big body and a load on the block for smaller opponents. BYU has Jimmer Fredette, but their front line will have trouble with the Bruin’s if the UCLA kids come ready to play, especially with Noah Hartsock coming off of a concussion.

Sat. 8:00 pm: Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State in Puerto Rico: The Bulldogs finally will be able to suit up Renardo Sidney, and I know I’m not the only person that is curious to see what this kid can do and how good Mississippi State can be. That said, Virginia Tech — and Malcolm Delaney — has been playing a bit better of late. Both teams desperately need this win for their resume.



  • 7:00 pm: No. 7 Tennessee @ Charlotte: Tennessee looks to bounce back from their first loss of the season against a Charlotte that may or may not be revitalized by the dismissal of their leading scorer Shamari Spears.
  • 9:00 pm: Boise State @ Utah: Great matchup of two teams from outside the BCS … err, wait, that’s football. How about two of the teams that were integral in the downfall of the WAC?
  • 9:00 pm: Arizona State @ Nevada: Can Olek Czyz, the Duke transfer that debuts tonight, turn around Nevada’s 2-7 season?


  • 12:00 pm: USC @ No. 3 Kansas: Not only is this Josh Selby’s debut as a Kansas Jayhawk, its Jio Fontan’s debut as a Trojan.
  • 12:00 pm: Loyola MD @ No. 13 Georgetown: Jimmy Patsos famously went triangle and two with the “two” both on Stephen Curry a few years back. What will he do against the back court of Georgetown?
  • 2:00 pm: No. 14 Illinois vs. Illinois-Chicago: Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Paul Carter plays for UIC, transferring for his senior season to be closer to his sister, who has cancer.
  • 2:00 pm: Northern Illinois @ Temple: The NCAA’s leading scorer Xavier Silas goes up against arguably the best defensive team in the country.
  • 2:00 pm: Arkansas @ Texas A&M: The Aggies have been playing very well this season, but Arkansas has some talent on this team with Marshon Powell and Rotnei Clarke. Sooner or later, the SEC West has to win a game, right?
  • 4:05 pm: Indiana State vs. No. 17 Purdue: This game will be played in Conseco Fieldhouse. … Yeah, that’s all I got.
  • 5:00 pm: Richmond @ Georgia Tech: The Spiders have been arguably the best team in the Atlantic 10 thus far this season, with wins over Purdue and Arizona State. Can they continue that run?
  • 6:30 pm: Prairie View A&M @ No. 15 Michigan State: Still waiting for a dominating performance from the Spartans…
  • 7:00 pm: Maryland-Eastern Shore @ No. 8 Pitt: The Panthers look to bounce back from an ugly loss against Tennessee.
  • 7:30 pm: Delaware @ No. 11 Villanova: Will the Wildcat’s talented back court of Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher ever find a groove?
  • 8:00 pm: Central Arkansas @ No. 12 Missouri: Ever wonder what happened to Corliss Williamson? He’s the head coach at Central Arkansas now. Its also Scottie Pippen’s alma mater. They made need those two to suit up against the Tigers.
  • 8:00 pm: Mississippi Valley State @ No. 16 Kentucky: Kenpom has named Terrence Jones the early leader for kPOY.
  • 8:00 pm: Wake Forest @ Xavier: This is the Skip Prosser Classic.
  • 11:00 pm: Florida State @ Loyola Marymount: I picked the Lions as a sleeper in the WCC. So far, that looks foolish, but LMU has won three straight.


  • 4:00 pm: Arizona @ NC State: Interesting matchup for both teams, as this could be a game that gets mentioned a lot in bubble conversations in February. But the story here is whether or not Tracy Smith, who is out with a knee injury will actually be suiting up.
  • 4:30 pm: Stony Brook @ No. 23 Notre Dame: The Irish are ranked, so I have to put them here, right?

AP Poll: Baylor remains No. 1 in week with few changes at the top

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Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor is No. 1 for a second straight week in a college basketball AP poll that had no major changes at the top, a rare bit of stability in a wildly unpredictable season.

The Bears stayed well ahead of No. 2 Gonzaga in Monday’s poll, part of an unchanged top seven for the first time this season. In fact, the only change in the top 10 came with Villanova moving up a spot to No. 8 to swap positions with No. 9 Duke. That comes in a season that has seen seven different teams reach No. 1 this season, matching a record set during the 1982-83 season.

Baylor (17-1) hopped over Gonzaga last week to reach No. 1 for the second time in program history, then earned 44 of 64 first-place votes to keep a firm hold on the top spot after beating Oklahoma and Florida last week.

The Zags earned 19 first-place votes to remain either No. 1 or No. 2 in the poll since the middle of December, followed by Kansas, San Diego State — the last unbeaten team in Division I — and Florida State.

Louisville, Dayton, Villanova, Duke and Seton Hall rounded out the top 10.

No. 22 LSU, No. 23 Wichita State and No. 24 Penn State were the week’s new additions, re-entering the poll after appearances earlier this season. Texas Tech, Memphis and Arizona fell out of the rankings.

Here is the full college basketball AP Poll:

1. Baylor (44 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (19)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Villanova
9. Duke
10. Seton Hall
11. Oregon
12. West Virginia
13. Kentucky
14. Michigan State
15. Maryland
16. Butler
17. Auburn
18. Iowa
19. Illinois
20. Colorado
21. Houston
22. LSU
23. Wichita State
24. Penn State
25. Rutgers


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ACC fines Brey for his officiating comments

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) The Atlantic Coast Conference has fined Notre Dame $20,000 and publicly reprimanded Fighting Irish basketball coach Mike Brey for his comments about officiating after Saturday’s loss at Florida State.

The league announced the penalties Monday, saying Brey’s comments “were in direct violation” of the league’s sportsmanship policy that states that public criticism of officiating “is not in the best interest of intercollegiate athletics.”

Brey referenced several issues after the 85-84 loss to the Seminoles, including a technical foul called on the Irish bench with 2:31 left. He also mentioned game official John Gaffney by name as he left the news conference in Tallahassee.

“We’re treated by the officials like we haven’t brought football as a full member (to the league), but yet we get a full share of the ACC Network TV, are you kidding me?” Brey said, a reference to Notre Dame’s independence in football even as it remains a member of all other league sports.

Moments later, a frustrated Brey waved both hands as he got up to leave and continued his comments as he left the room.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, man,” Brey said, raising his voice. “Come on, man. We’re in the league, too.”

The league said in a news release that the matter is closed and declined to make additional comment. The fine will go toward an ACC scholarship fund that assists athletes with pursuing graduate degrees after completing undergraduate requirements.

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Monday Overreactions: Ayo Dosunmu, Maryland and Nick Richards’ takeoer

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Ayo Dosunmu did it again.

Illinois’ sophomore star and leading scorer finished with 27 points, none of which were bigger than the final shot of the game as Dosunmu hit a foul line jumper over Zavier Simpson with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor:

It’s the sixth straight win for the Illini, who have climbed all the way up to No. 21 in the AP poll, and no one has been more influential in that run than Dosunmu. He’s averaging 19.0 points and 5.4 assists over the last five games, and in a conference where winning road games is notoriously difficult, the Illini have won at Wisconsin, at Purdue and at Michigan during that stretch.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Maryland Terrapins

No team in the country has elicited a louder chorus of doubters throughout the course of the season than Maryland.

The Terps were a top ten team in the preseason, and spent the entire season ranked inside the top 20 of the AP poll and currently sit at No. 10 in KenPom’s rankings. But because of some uninspiring performances early in the season, combined with the fact that the Terps had entered the week with an 0-4 record on the road, it was easy to overlook this group as nothing more than another fraudulent Mark Turgeon roster.

This week, the narrative changed. The Terps erased a 14 point deficit on the road to knock off Northwester, 77-66, in Chicago and then followed that up by going on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes to land a 77-76 win at Indiana.

Suddenly, the Terps are on a three game winning streak with back-to-back home games coming up next.



Richards has been one of the most improved players in the country this season, but Saturday was really the first time that we saw him completely take over a game.

He finished with 25 points, 14 boards and four blocks in the 76-74 overtime win at Texas Tech, scoring the game-winning points with 10 seconds left.

This is notable, because if you look at Kentucky’s biggest wins of the season to date, they all happened to be a result of one of Hagans or Maxey going absolutely nuts. Maxey had 27 in the win over Michigan State. He had 26  against Louisville. Hagans went for 21 points, seven boards and seven assists against Georgia Tech. He had 13 points, six boards and six assists at Arkansas and 15 points, nine boards and nine assists against Alabama.

Point being, this is the first time that Richards has definitively been the best player on the floor while carrying Kentucky to a win like this on the road.

I also get it: He completely overwhelmed Texas Tech’s frontline — which, frankly, is not a new occurrence, if you have seen the Red Raiders play this season. But we’ve seen Richards play against frontlines he should dominate and, well, not dominate.

As it stands, he’s now the leading scorer and rebounder for the Wildcats. He’s probably the leader in the clubhouse for SEC Player of the Year, and very much in the mix for an all-american team.


I’m not sure people realize just how little there is on Texas Tech’s resume right now. They beat Louisville (11) on a neutral court. They beat Iowa State (70) at home. They beat Oklahoma State (83) at home. They won at Kansas State (89). Combined, that’s one Quad 1, two Quad 2 and a Quad 3 win. They have eight wins against sub-200 teams and have lost to seven Quad 1 opponents, including Kentucky (23) at home on Saturday. The Red Raiders will have plenty of chances to build on their profile — they get West Virginia (7) at home and play at Kansas (3) next week alone — but there is no doubt that this team has to start winning some games against teams that are not horrific.

As it stands, the Red Raiders are the very last team in the most recent NBC Sports bracket projection.


The biggest reason that I believe this is the lack of elite point guard play. I’ve made this point roughly 18,000 times by now, but in the last decade, the only team that won the national title without having two lead guards playing together was the 2012 Kentucky team that had the top two picks playing together.

And the thing about this year’s Big Ten is that the lead guard play is not great. Cassius Winston, when he’s right, is the best in the country. Ayo Dosunmu, the way he’s been playing for the last month, is right there with him. Anthony Cowan is, in theory, on that list. Zavier Simpson? Maybe. Marcus Carr? At times.

I think that’s it.

So that’s a concern.

As is the fact that every team in the Big Ten is built around their frontcourt play.

I was struck over the weekend as I watch Michigan and Illinois down the stretch play with four centers on the floor — Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili for the Illini and Jon Teske and Austin Davis for the Wolverines. Iowa is at their best when they play with Luka Garza and Ryan Kriener. Tom Izzo loves to play Xavier Tillman with another big man. I could keep going if I had the time.

That is the only league in the country where that happens, and I think it is fair to wonder how well that will hold up in March.


More than anyone else in college basketball, the Wildcats are the team that appear to be the darling of the predictive metrics this season.

(I would say Ohio State, but they spent the first half of the season absolutely bludgeoning really good teams and still don’t have a loss to a team outside the top 40.)

They have one win against a top 30 team and just two wins against top 55 opponents. Their best win away from home is against Wake Forest, yet the Wildcats, at 13-6 overall, find themselves sitting at 10th in KenPom and 12th in the NET. This is what happens when you find a way to lose games close. Five fo their six losses came by five points or less, and it hasn’t always been the same formula. Arizona erased leads to land backdoor covers against Baylor, Gonzaga and Saint John’s. They blew leads on the road in league play in losses to Oregon and Arizona State. They completely collapsed in the second half against Oregon State.

So I’m not sure there is a clear-cut answer to what ails the Wildcats right now.

But I do know that with the talent on their roster, they are not as far away from being an actual top ten team as the average Arizona fan on twitter will have you believe.


Someone has to be the fourth-best team in the ACC, and as far as league standings go, the Orange currently qualify. They are 6-3 in the conference, having won their last five games, and they have fully embraced the idea that this roster needs to fire up as many threes as possible to have a chance to win.

That said, they still haven’t beaten anyone. Their best win came at Virginia in overtime, but Virginia may not be a tournament team this season. The trouble is that the Orange only get the other top teams in the conference — Duke, N.C. State, Florida State and Louisville — once each.

They probably need to win at least two of those games to have a real shot at a tournament bid.

Bracketology: Baylor strengthens its grip on the No. 1 overall seed

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Baylor continues to strengthen its grip on the No. 1 overall seed.  The Bears won their fifth true road game (5-0 in opportunities) of the season at Florida on Saturday.  They are No. 1 in the NCAA’s NET ratings, 6-1 in Quadrant 1 games and 10-1 against Quadrant 1 and 2 opponents combined.  Baylor hasn’t lost since November 8, a nearly two-month stretch of perfection.

Elsewhere, the top line remains in tact.  There’s room for debate across lines two through four. It’ll be interesting to see how the Selection Committee views the profiles of teams like Florida State, Louisville and Duke in the weeks ahead.  Unless something changes, there will be fewer Quad 1 opportunities in this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference.

Tracking the Bubble is going to keep you busy.  It’s several lines deep into the bracket today.  The margins between a nine seed and an 11-seeded play-in team are minimal.  And that’s not factoring in the next 8-12 teams knocking on the door.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 27, 2020

MIDWEST REGION NC State vs. Arizona State

SOUTH Houston WEST – Los Angeles                         
Omaha Spokane
8) Wichita State 8) USC
9) Saint Mary’s 9) Oklahoma 
Sacramento Tampa
5) Penn State 5) LSU
12) YALE 12) AKRON
4) Kentucky 4) West Virginia
Cleveland Albany
6) Marquette 6) Colorado
11) VCU / Texas Tech 11) BYU
3) MICHIGAN STATE 3) Villanova
Tampa Spokane
7) Indiana 7) Wisconsin
10) Saint John’s 10) Memphis
2) Florida State 2) OREGON
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
8) Ohio State 8) HOUSTON
9) Florida 9) Arkansas
Greensboro St. Louis
5) Butler 5) Creighton
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
Greensboro Cleveland
6) Auburn 6) Illinois
11) DePaul 11) NC State / Arizona St
3) Duke 3) DAYTON
Albany St. Louis
7) Rutgers 7) Arizona
10) Stanford 10) Michigan

Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Michigan Arizona State Rhode Island Purdue
BYU NC State Virginia Tech Tennessee
Saint John’s VCU Richmond Xavier
DePaul Texas Tech Minnesota Georgetown

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
Pac 12 (6)
SEC (5)
Big 12 (5)

ACC (4)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

College Basketball Top 25 Power Rankings: Baylor, Gonzaga lead the way

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A new college basketball top 25 is now live.

I sat down at my laptop to write out a column about why I ranked certain teams in certain spots and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t find a way to give a damn.

As I’m sure you all know, Kobe Bryant died today. He was in a helicopter along with eight other people, including his daughter, Gianna, and her teammate, Alyssa Altobelli along with her mom, Keri, and dad, John. They were on the way to play in a travel team game. At least two, and certainly more, families were gutted, and while we are going to be talking about Kobe for the most part, I do think that should be emphasized.

Nine people died on that helicopter. Nine.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about why so many folks — like myself — spent Sunday completely torn up about the death of a person that we never met, a person that may or may not be deserving of the outpouring of love and adoration coming his way. What I came up with is this: The true heartbreak in this story is that Kobe was on the plane with one of his four daughters, the one he has spent the last couple of years proudly and publicly developing into a full-blown middle-aged sports dad with. It was awesome to see. This was not how their story was supposed to end.

Kobe and his wife also have three other daughters: a 17-year old along with a three year old and a newborn that is just seven months old. The Altobellis left a family behind, too, and what that family is going through is crushing as well, but I can’t stop thinking about what Vanessa, his wife, is going to be forced to deal with. She’s post-partum, with one daughter that will never know her father, and now has to cope with the loss of her husband and the loss of a child while trying to keep that 17-year old sane and explain to a three-year old why daddy and her big sister are never coming home.

That’s unfathomable to me.

But the reason I think this hit me so hard is that I keep putting myself in that helicopter. As a parent, the only goal in your life is keep your kids safe and happy. At any cost. It’s that simple. How do you deal with being on a helicopter with your child — and, for the Altobellis, with your spouse — knowing that something has gone wrong? Knowing what’s going to happen? Knowing the inevitability of your situation? Knowing that there’s nothing you can do to stop it, to keep your baby safe?

I don’t think that I’m alone there.

So I spent as much time as I could today playing with my kids, because arguing about ranking college basketball top 25 teams has never seemed dumber.

We can yell at each other next week.

Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.

1. BAYLOR (17-1, Last Week: 1)
2. GONZAGA (21-1, 2)
3. KANSAS (16-3, 3)
4. FLORIDA STATE (17-2, 4)
5. LOUISVILLE (17-3, 5)
6. SETON HALL (15-4, 6)
7. DUKE (17-3, 7)
8. SAN DIEGO STATE (21-0, 8)
9. DAYTON (18-2, 9)
10. OREGON (17-4, 13)
11. KENTUCKY (16-5, 14)
12. WEST VIRGINIA (16-3, 15)
13. VILLANOVA (16-3, 17)
14. ILLINOIS (15-5, 24)
15. AUBURN (17-2, 12)
16. MICHIGAN STATE (16-3, 10)
17. IOWA (14-5, 18)
18. MARYLAND (16-4, 23)
19. HOUSTON (16-4, 20)
20. BUTLER (16-4, 11)
21. CREIGHTON (16-5, 25)
22. COLORADO (16-4, NR)
23. PENN STATE (14-5, NR)
24. RUTGERS (15-5, NR)
25. ARIZONA (13-6, 19)

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Colorado, No. 23 Penn State, No. 24 Rutgers
DROPPED OUT: No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 21 Memphis, No. 22 Michigan