Now that conference play has opened up throughout college basketball, many of the top teams have found the competition a little tougher. In fact, there are no longer any unbeaten teams left following Duke’s upset loss to NC State. And the Blue Devils weren’t the only high-ranked team to lose recently since a few other clubs were dealt their first loss as well. Following the recent shakeup, here’s a look at who’s sitting where in our power rankings.
1. Louisville Cardinals (15-1) – Louisville was ranked number four in our last power rankings, but they move up to the top spot following losses by three teams ahead of them. Junior guard Russ Smith (18.9 PPG) has led this club to recent victories over Kentucky, Providence, Seton Hall and South Florida. A couple of tough games loom ahead with Connecticut on the road and Syracuse at home.
2. Duke Blue Devils (15-1) – Following 15 wins to open the regular season, Duke finally dropped a road game against NC State. However, this eight point loss certainly doesn’t erase previous wins over Louisville, Kentucky, Wake Forest and Ohio State. Five Blue Devils are averaging double digits right now, led by senior Mason Plumlee (17.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG).
3. Indiana Hoosiers (15-1) – The Hoosiers continue to play well after a loss to in-state rival Butler last month. Their most recent conquest includes hanging the first loss on eighth-ranked Minnesota. Plenty of landmines await in the Big Ten schedule, but the prospects look good for Indiana to win their conference. G Victor Oladipo (13.8 PPG) continues to be lights out from the perimeter for Indiana (68.3 2P%, 48.0 3P%).
4. Kansas Jayhawks (14-1) – A three-point loss to Michigan State on November 13th represents the lone blemish on Kansas’ schedule. The only thing holding the Jayhawks back from a better ranking is that their lone impressive win remains beating Ohio State. Freshman G Ben McLemore has stepped up to lead this team with 16.4 PPG.
5. Michigan Wolverines (16-1) – After opening Big Ten play up with three wins, Michigan dropped a road game against Ohio State. Unfortunately, things won’t get any easier as the Wolverines travel to Minnesota this Thursday. Both Trey Burke (18 PPG) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.1 PPG) had off games against OSU, and they’ll look to get back on track against the Gophers.
6. Arizona Wildcats (15-1) – Arizona represents yet another top team that received its first loss in January. They dropped a four-point game on the road to a respectable 14-2 Oregon ball club. The Wildcats have another difficult upcoming game as they travel to face in-state rival Arizona State (14-3). This team does have the advantage of a hot Mark Lyons though (18.3 PPG over past four games).
7. Syracuse Orange (16-1) – While the Orange sit seventh in our power rankings now, they have an excellent chance to move up with a win at number one Louisville. Sophomore G Michael Carter-Williams had done a great job of finding teammates all season (9.4 APG), and he’ll look to tally plenty more assists against the Cardinals this Saturday.
8. Gonzaga Bulldogs (16-1) – Since losing to Illinois on December 8th, the Bulldogs have now rattled off seven straight wins – including a road victory over former #22 Oklahoma State. Looking ahead, the Zags have a very intriguing road game against 13th-ranked Butler this Saturday. Junior C Kelly Olynyk (18.7 PPG) is a huge reason why Gonzaga should win this tough contest.
9. Creighton Bluejays (16-1) – Looking at Creighton’s remaining schedule, it’s certainly not improbable that they could finish as a one-loss team heading into March Madness. Of course, going undefeated in conference play is a tall order for any club. Some of the quality victories for this team include wins over Wisconsin, Arizona State, Nebraska and California. Junior F Doug McDermott (23.6 PPG) is a strong favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year award.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-2) – While Minnesota may have two losses on the year, dropping games to Duke and Indiana are nothing to be ashamed of. And so far, the Golden Gophers have tallied victories against Memphis, USC, Michigan State and Illinois. G Andre Hollins has really stepped up in his second year to lead this team with 14.4 PPG.