College Basketball Power Rankings: Duke new No. 1

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Duke is the best team in the country.

At least that’s the way that I see things right now.

And I know that this is going to be out there. I know that I’ll probably be on an island. I don’t really care, because the truth is this: All season long the narrative has been that Duke is the most talented team in college basketball, they just didn’t know how to defend.

Didn’t.

Past tense.

Because we now have a five-game sample on the books showing us that they do. After giving up 56 points at Louisville and 44 points at home against Syracuse, the Blue Devils are now allowing just 0.837 points-per-possession since Marvin Bagley III injured his knee and they went all-in on the 2-3 zone. For context, Virginia is allowing 0.860 PPP against giving up 37 points to Pitt on Saturday.

And not only is Duke defending now, but Bagley’s absence allowing Grayson Allen to get going, Wendell Carter to find a rhythm and Javin DaLaurier, Marques Bolden and Jack White to earn Coach K’s trust.

Oh, and Bagley is back. He played 31 minutes on Saturday.

When all of those things are happening, Duke is the best that college basketball has to offer.

UPDATE:

I’m going to add a couple of other notes in here since people are asking about it.

I didn’t punish Virginia for winning just like I didn’t punish North Carolina for winning. I didn’t even have UVA No. 1 last week. Since Duke made the change to zone full-time, the Blue Devils have been better defensively than Virginia has all season long. Will that last? Who knows, but the numbers prove that it’s easier to win a national title as an elite offensive team with a good enough defense (Duke) than vice versa (Virginia). It’s why I’ve always had Villanova above Virginia when there was a discussion to have there.

And no, I did not punish North Carolina. Kansas jumped them because the Jayhawks now hold a two-game lead over everyone in the conference that we’ve all accepted is the best conference in the country. In theory, UNC’s ranking would have evened out because Texas Tech, who has now lost three straight games, would drop out, but I still believe the Red Raiders are one of the six or seven biggest threats to win a national title … when Keenan Evans is healthy. He has not been healthy in the last three games.

Here is the rest of the top 25:

1. Duke, 24-5 (Last Week: No. 6)
2. Virginia, 26-2 (2)
3. Michigan State, 28-3 (3)
4. Villanova, 25-4 (1)
5. Xavier, 25-4 (4)
6. Purdue, 26-5 (5)
7. Kansas, 23-6 (13)
8. Texas Tech, 22-7 (7)
9. Cincinnati, 25-4 (8)
10. Gonzaga, 27-4 (9)
11. North Carolina, 22-7 (10)
12. Wichita State, 23-5 (14)
13. Ohio State, 24-7 (12)
14. Kentucky, 20-9 (NR)
15. West Virginia, 21-8 (16)
16. Auburn, 24-5 (11)
17. Rhode Island, 23-4 (16)
18. Clemson, 21-7 (15)
19. Tennessee, 21-7 (18)
20. Nevada, 25-5 (20)
21. Michigan, 24-7 (21)
22. Butler, 19-10 (22)
23. Saint Mary’s, 27-4 (25)
24. TCU, 20-9 (NR)
25. Houston, 22-6 (NR)

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 14 Kentucky, No. 24 TCU, No. 25 Houston

DROPPED OUT: No. 19. Arizona, No. 23. Texas A&M, No. 24. Baylor