1. Oklahoma (18-2, LW: No. 1): The Sooners have beaten Villanova, Iowa State, Baylor and West Virginia already this season and their two losses came on the road by a combined eight points in the two toughest environments they’ll see in the conference. They blew out Baylor in Waco and, over the weekend, went into Baton Rouge and came from 13 points down to knock off Ben Simmons and LSU. That’s why …
2. North Carolina (19-2, LW: No. 2): … I just can’t see anyway to justify North Carolina being ranked No. 1 over Oklahoma at this point in the season. The Tar Heels do have that win over Maryland, but other than that, the best team that they’ve played this season has been … Texas (who they lost to)? Syracuse? They also lost to Northern Iowa, a loss that looks worse by the games. I still have the Tar Heels winning the national title, but I don’t think they deserve to be ranked above Oklahoma, not right now.
3. Iowa (17-4, LW: No. 3): Iowa lost at Maryland by six points on a night where Jarrod Uthoff shot 2-for-13 from the floor. It’s going to take a lot more than that to get me off of the bandwagon.
4. Kansas (17-4, LW: No. 4): On paper, you might think that it would be concerning that this Kansas team was taken to overtime by the Kentucky team that lost at Auburn, but there are a lot of positives to take out of what was a thrilling game to watch. Namely: Wayne Selden. He was terrific.
5. Villanova (18-3, LW: No. 5): For my money, Villanova is still the team to beat in the Big East. That’s their league to win until they’re no longer the champions. That said …
6. Xavier (19-2, LW: No. 6): … Xavier is the Big East team that is best built to make a run to the Final Four. Why? Because they’re a complete basketball team.
7. Maryland (18-3, LW: No. 7): The win over Iowa at home was important for a couple of reasons: On the one hand, this is the first really good win that the Terps have on their résumé. On the other hand, they won the game playing a way we haven’t seen them play too much this season. Explanations needed?
8. Texas A&M (18-3, LW: No. 8): The Aggies landed a critical win over Iowa State at home on Saturday afternoon … just three days after they lost at Arkansas.
9. Michigan State (18-4, LW: No. 11): I think the Spartans are back, as they followed up their win over Maryland by making light work of Northwestern and Rutgers. It’s Northwestern and Rutgers, I know, but the Spartans won by an average of 30 points.
10. Providence (18-4, LW: No. 12): Providence lost at home when Xavier turned into a buzzsaw on Tuesday night, but they did follow that up with yet another win on the road at Georgetown. Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil have both been great this season, but will the adjustment that Ed Cooley made in Saturday’s game stick?
11. SMU (20-1, LW: No. 10)
12. West Virginia (17-4, LW: No. 9)
13. Virginia (17-4, LW: No. 14)
14. Miami (16-4, LW: No. 13)
15. Baylor (17-4, LW: No. 15)
16. Iowa State (16-5, LW: No. 16)
17. Kentucky (16-5, LW: No. 21)
18. Oregon (18-4, LW: No. 22)
19. Purdue (19-4, LW: No. 19)
20. Wichita State (16-5, LW: No. 23)
21. USC (17-5, LW: No. 24)
22. Louisville (17-4, LW: No. 17)
23. Utah (18-5, LW: UR)
24. Indiana (18-4, LW: No. 20)
25. Saint Mary’s (18-2, LW: UR)
DROPPED OUT: No. 18 Arizona, No. 25 Duke
NEW ADDITION: No. 23 Utah, No. 25 Saint Mary’s