We’re now a month into the college basketball season, which means that it is time to really take a look at the top 25. That’s why there are some pretty drastic changes to the top 25 here:
1. Michigan State (11-0, LW: No. 2): There’s no fighting it now. Michigan State has to be ranked No. 1 this week. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a consensus in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
2. Maryland (9-1, LW: No. 4): We know how good Melo Trimble is and we know how well Rasheed Sulaimon complements him. Robert Carter hasn’t quite lived up to the hype he had this offseason but he’s been consistently solid this month. The good sign this week: Diamond Stone finally looked like a kid that was a top ten prospect in the Class of 2015. The bad sign this week: Jake Layman still looks overwhelmed by big games.
3. Kansas (8-1, LW: No. 5): It took a while for Kansas to wake up against Oregon State, but once they decided to start playing, they ran the Beavers off the floor. Wayne Selden is shooting 60 percent from three, has multiple threes in every games this season and has hit at least three in all but two games. And there’s an argument to be made that he isn’t even their best guard.
4. Oklahoma (7-0, LW: No. 8): I’m still not totally convinced that Oklahoma is truly a title contender, but after their beatdown of Villanova, we can’t ignore this team anymore. I’m not sure there is a better back court in the country than Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins and Buddy Hield.
5. North Carolina (7-2, LW: No. 1): Maybe I’m just not yet ready to admit that I was wrong about North Carolina being the best team in the country — because I still think they will be come March — but I’m not ready to drop this team outside the top five when they lost a game on the road to an improving Texas team on a shot that may or may have actually come before the final buzzer sounded. Sorry not sorry.
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6. Kentucky (9-1, LW: No. 3): I’m still not sure what to make of this group. They looked so, so, so dominant against Duke, particularly in the back court, but that was really the only time this season they’ve looked really good. I get that we have to be patient with Skal Labissiere, but it’s now mid-December and he just went for zero points, zero boards and five fouls in 13 minutes against Arizona State. Yikes.
7. Xavier (10-0, LW: No. 11): Xavier was totally dominant in a ten point win over intra-city rival Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon, and that was not the first time this season that they’ve played like that. I’m not sure what the weakness is in this team outside of front court depth. Trevon Blueitt has been sensational, James Farr and Edmond Sumner have been much improved and Jalen Reynolds hasn’t yet hit his stride. Is this the best team Chris Mack has ever had at Xavier?
8. Purdue (11-0, LW: No. 12): Purdue has the most overpowering front line in the country. Isaac Haas deserves all-american consideration at this point for the way that he has played this season and the scary part is that A.J. Hammons is better than him. Caleb Swanigan has fit in perfectly at the four and the Boilermaker guards are hitting jumpers, getting the ball to their bigs in a position to score and defending. This is a really, really good team, and it will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday when they face off with Butler.
9. Iowa State (9-0, LW: No. 7): The concerns that I had for this Iowa State team manifested themselves in the win over Iowa: They couldn’t stop Jarrod Uthoff when he got rolling and they don’t have the depth in the front court to keep Jameel McKay rested. If that 20 point deficit came against anyone other than Iowa, the Cyclones currently have a loss on their résumé.
10. Duke (8-1, LW: No. 9): Duke dropped a spot despite the fact that they didn’t even have a game this week. Virginia dropped a spot after beating West Virginia, a top 20 team in their own right. My opinion of those two ACC powers has not changed. In fact, I actually think more of Virginia after watching them in the Jimmy V Classic. But at this point in the season, I believe both Xavier and Purdue are better basketball teams, so it makes no sense to rank them lower than a pair of one loss team because of how I felt about them in the preseason.
11. Virginia (8-1, LW: No. 10)
12. Baylor (7-1, LW: No. 13)
13. Miami (8-1, LW: No. 15)
14. Villanova (8-1, LW: No. 6)
15. Butler (8-1, LW: No. 16)
16. Providence (10-1, LW: No. 17)
17. Arizona (9-1, LW: No. 18)
18. SMU (7-0, LW: No. 23)
19. West Virginia (8-1, LW: No. 19)
20. Louisville (7-1, LW: No. 21)
21. Cincinnati (8-2, LW: No. 22)
22. Texas A&M (8-2, LW: UR)
23. George Washington (9-1, LW: UR)
24. UCLA (7-3, LW: UR)
25. Wichita State (5-4, LW: UR)
DROPPED OUT: No. 14 Vanderbilt, No. 20 Gonzaga, No. 21 Oregon, No. 25 UConn
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Texas A&M, No. 23 George Washington, No. 24 UCLA No. 25 Wichita State