The biggest riser in this week’s Power Rankings is Michigan, who vaulted up and over Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State — two of whom they beat — and all the way up to No. 6 in this week’s rankings.
This might be an overreaction; I’ve been known to be prone to doing that.
But the truth of it all is that this Michigan team is different than any other Michigan team that we’ve seen under head coach John Beilein. They are elite defensively. As of today, they are sixth-nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which slots them above the likes of Texas, Michigan State and Clemson, all of whom have been considered to be among college basketball’s best all season long.
And in addition to being able to lock up in a way that we’ve never seen from Beilein’s Wolverines, this group is starting to click on the other end of the floor. Mo Wagner is always going to be a matchup nightmare, but with the way that Zavier Simpson is handling those lead guard duties and the simple fact that we are in tournament season and Michigan has arguably the best tournament coach in college hoops, here we are.
The ranking here that is going to get everyone fired up is Duke back in the No. 1 spot after they lost to Virginia Tech on Monday night. Before you two, let me make two points:
1. Virginia Tech is in my top 25, and I would not be surprised if they ended up being ranked when the polls are released. They are an NCAA tournament team that landed a come-from-behind on their home court by a single point. They are a good team that has also beaten North Carolina and won at Virginia, the only team to do that this season. That loss is very different than, say, the loss to Boston College earlier this year.
2. With the way that Duke is defending, I just cannot envision a scenario where they aren’t the favorite to win the national title when the bracket is released. As of today, Duke is the only team in the country to rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom, and that is despite the fact that, just three weeks ago, they were in the 70s defensively. Since the switch to zone, they are one of college basketball’s very best defensive teams.
That’s enough for me to slot them in as the best team in the country.
Anyway, here are the rest of the rankings:
1. Duke, 25-6 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Virginia, 28-2 (2)
3. Villanova, 27-4 (4)
4. Xavier, 27-4 (5)
5. Cincinnati, 27-4 (9)
6. Michigan, 28-7 (21)
7. Michigan State, 29-4 (3)
8. Kansas, 24-7 (7)
9. Texas Tech, 23-8 (8)
10. Purdue, 28-6 (6)
11. Gonzaga, 28-4 (10)
12. North Carolina, 22-9 (11)
13. Wichita State, 24-6 (12)
14. Ohio State, 24-8 (13)
15. West Virginia, 22-9 (15)
16. Auburn, 25-6 (16)
17. Tennessee, 23-7 (19)
18. Florida, 20-11 (NR)
19. Kentucky, 21-10 (14)
20. Houston, 24-6 (25)
21. Miami, 22-8 (NR)
22. Virginia Tech, 21-10 (NR)
23. Nevada, 26-6 (20)
24. Saint Mary’s, 28-4 (23)
25. Arizona, 24-7 (NR)
DROPPED OUT: No. 17 Rhode Island, No. 18 Clemson, No. 22 Butler, No. 24 TCU
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 18 Florida, No. 21 Miami, No. 22 Virginia Tech, No. 25 Arizona