With the first week of college basketball in the books, it’s time to release our initial “Rahl Reviews College Basketball Top 25”! Like most other Top 25 polls, we at Rahl Reviews will be updating our college basketball rankings weekly. We will post our new rankings every Monday so that they will be available by Tuesday morning, which is the beginning of the traditional betting week. As always, if you have any feedback on our rankings be sure to let us know on Twitter by going to @RahlBets and sending us a comment or DM. So be sure to come back each Monday to see our new rankings! Enjoy!
P.S. – You can find the Rahl Bets staff’s preseason Final Four & National Championship predictions at the bottom of the page! Be sure to check them out and see how they hold up when the nets are finally cut down in April!
- Due to COVID-19 schedules are subject to change.
- Rankings used in team overviews & schedules are the Rahl Reviews staff’s rankings. They are not the official AP rankings.
1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (2-0)
It’s yet to be determined who all the top tier of college basketball consists of, but Gonzaga is definitely a part of that group. Frankly, they might even be in a league of their own. When facing #6 Kansas, it took less than 5 minutes for them to take control of the game, and they never relented, eventually posting 102 points in a 12-point victory. The very next day they handed Auburn a 23-point loss, once again setting the tone early. F Drew Timme led the way in scoring in both games, putting up 25 vs Kansas and 28 vs Auburn. “Timme time” will be a household phrase before long.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 #13 West Virginia, 12/5 #2 Baylor
2. BAYLOR BEARS (2-0)
The Bears have cruised through their first two games. We already knew this team would be strong on defense, but their offensive output has been a pleasant surprise. After running up 112 points on Louisiana, they came back the next day and hung 86 on Washington. Baylor won both games by at least 30 while shooting over 50% from the field. If Baylor continues to play this strong on both ends of the court they will be one of the most feared teams in the nation, if they aren’t already.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 #4 Illinois, 12/5 #1 Gonzaga
3. IOWA HAWKEYES (2-0)
The Hawkeyes and F Luka Garza have gotten off to a hot start in a season where they both have high expectations. Garza hasn’t disappointed, scoring 26 & 41 in Iowa’s 2 games, getting his Player of the Year campaign off to a solid start. His 41 points vs Southern was accomplished in part by shooting 14-15 from the field. He has this Iowa offense humming as they ran up 97 & 103 points on their first 2 opponents.
THIS WEEK: 12/3 vs Western Illinois
4. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (3-0)
After blowing their first 2 opponents out of the water, Illinois had a MAJOR scare vs Ohio. Playing their 3rd game in 3 days, Illinois found themselves down by 1 with 5 seconds left. Fortunately for them, Ayo Dosunmo was able to draw a foul with 2 seconds left and came up clutch, hitting both free throws to take the lead. Trent Frazier was then able to steal an Ohio inbound pass to secure the win for the Illini. This nail-biter came after 2 games in which Illinois won 122-60 vs NC A&T and 97-38 vs Chicago St. So which Illinois team is real – the one blowing people away or the one that is 1 shot away from losing to Ohio? We should have that question answered this week as the Illini take on #2 Baylor on a neutral court in Indianapolis, Indiana.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 #2 Baylor
5. WISCONSIN BADGERS (2-0)
The Badgers have looked impressive through 2 games. Combining for 169 points in these games, they secured double-digit victories over Eastern Illinois and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They will have their first real test of the season on Friday when they meet in-state rival Marquette for a showdown in Milwaukee.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 vs Green Bay, 12/4 at Marquette
6. DUKE BLUE DEVILS (1-0)
Coach K’s first game with an extremely young team didn’t go quite as well as he would have liked. They only beat Coppin State by 10, in a game where Duke was a 38-point favorite. That’s to be expected, however. When you bring in the number of freshmen that Duke does, you always take the risk that it could take them a few games to find their sea legs. They’ll have to find them fast however as they take on #9 Michigan State on Tuesday.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 vs #9 Michigan State, 12/4 Bellarmine, 12/6 Elon
7. KANSAS JAYHAWKS (1-1)
It’s hard to blame Kansas for their loss. Through 2 games they have played sound basketball. But they ran into a buzz-saw in the form of a juggernaut Gonzaga team. They rebounded nicely the next day, handily defeating St. Joseph’s 94-72. The Jayhawks offense executed at an elite level in these games as they put up at least 90 points and shot at least 50% from the field in both contests. Kansas will be put to the test again on Tuesday when they face John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 #17 Kentucky, 12/5 vs North Dakota State
8. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (1-0)
Creighton opened their season with an 11-point victory over North Dakota State. They didn’t dominate the game like they wanted to & should have, but it was still a solid victory. They will need to work on their rebounding and 3-point shooting if they want to stick around the top 15 all year, as they were unimpressive in both categories. They were 8/35 (22.9%) from 3 and had a rebounding margin of -14.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 vs Omaha, 12/4 vs Kennesaw State
9. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (1-0)
The transition from the Cassius Winston era looked seamless throughout the Notre Dame game. Coach Izzo’s Spartans dispatched Notre Dame by 10 on Saturday night in East Lansing, Michigan. Most importantly, the team had no trouble scoring and distributing the ball as they wound up with 80 points and were able to accumulate 26 assists.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 at #6 Duke, 12/4 vs Detroit Mercy, 12/6 vs Western Michigan
10. VILLANOVA WILDCATS (2-1)
Down goes another top 5 team in Week 1. Though not as disparaging as Virginia’s loss, there’s no doubt that Jay Wright didn’t want a loss 3 games into the season. Especially not to an unranked Virginia Tech team. This could be a character builder, though. After all, this was their 3rd game in 4 days. Not to mention they took down #18 Arizona State 2 days earlier in a battle of two teams with deadly backcourts. This is college basketball. There’s no need for Nova fans to panic.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 vs St. Joseph’s, 12/6 at #16 Texas
11. HOUSTON COUGARS (3-0)
I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about how high Houston was ranked in the preseason. It appears their spot was well-deserved, however. Heck, maybe it wasn’t high enough. The Cougars have looked dominant in each game they played, beating Lamar 89-45, Boise St 68-58, and most impressively #14 Texas Tech 64-53. In the Texas Tech victory, Houston beat their higher-ranked opponent in each major statistical category except FG%. They are certainly a team to keep your eye on moving forward.
THIS WEEK: 12/5 vs South Carolina
12. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (1-0)
UNC’s rebound season got off to a start that fans may have mixed feelings about. Roy Williams’ squad began their season by defeating Charleston 79-60. At first glance that looks like a solid effort – and for the most part it was. UNC had a distinct advantage in rebounds, assists, turnovers and steals, which you would expect from them against an opponent like Charleston. The Tar Heels’ shooting is what’s worrisome. UNC only shot 39.4% from the field. They were only 4/18 from 3. Their ability to get to the free-throw line is what let them pull away in this game, going 19/24 from the stripe. It’s only 1 game, so there’s no need to panic, but the Tar Heels will need to raise that shooting percentage to avoid a repeat of last season.
THIS WEEK: 11/30 UNLV
13. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (3-0)
WVU’s games may have been a little more closely contested than they would have liked, but that’s understandable considering they played their 3 games in consecutive days. F Derek Culver has been impressive, putting up double-digit points and rebounds in 2 of the 3 games.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 #1 Gonzaga, 12/6 at Georgetown
14. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (1-1)
Virginia’s season has gotten off to a rocky start. After a lopsided victory vs Towson, the #4 Cavaliers were stunned by San Francisco for the first major upset of the 2020 season. Virginia found themselves down by 7 with less than 2 minutes remaining. They made a late push, but it was too little, too late, as they fell 61-60. What is even worse is that PG Kihei Clark has looked underwhelming. In these games, he was limited to only 7 & 9 points and has only accumulated 5 combined assists while committing 4 turnovers.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 vs St. Francis, 12/4 vs Kent State
15. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (0-0)
We are gonna have to wait a bit longer to get a look at Tennessee. Their season was put on hold after coach Rick Barnes tested positive for COVID-19.
THIS WEEK: NONE
16. TEXAS LONGHORNS (1-0)
Texas fans are surely pleased with the start to their season. Shaka Smart’s team shot over 57% from the field as a team and out-rebounded Rio Grande Valley 54 to 36. Courtney Ramey’s line consisted of 20 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds en route to the Longhorns’ 91-55 victory.
THIS WEEK: 11/30 Davidson, 12/6 vs #10 Villanova
17. KENTUCKY WILDCATS (1-1)
What a bizarre start to the season for Kentucky. Against Morehead State they looked like a well-rounded team who had been playing together for years. Against Richmond, however, they just couldn’t seem to mesh. They looked like a team full of young individuals who haven’t been together long. Which is indeed what they are. The amount of talent on that team should have been more than enough to overcome a lack of chemistry against a team like Richmond, however. The need to find some cohesion quickly, as they face #7 Kansas on Tuesday.
THIS WEEK: 12/1 #7 Kansas, 12/6 at Georgia Tech
18. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (3-0)
Is Rutgers gonna be a threat in the stacked Big Ten Conference? It looks like they may end up being so. They’ve won each of their 3 games, with the average margin of victory being 19.3. They are shooting and rebounding well. They have also looked great on defense. The main issue I’m seeing with them is turnovers. They will have to cut down on those mistakes before conference play begins.
THIS WEEK: NONE
19. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (2-0)
The transition away from the Wesson brothers era has begun, and it’s off to a good start. Ohio State flexed their muscles against Illinois St, winning by 27, and they then took care of Massachusetts-Lowell, defeating them by 10. RS-Junior transfer F Justice Sueing has been a bright spot for the team, combining for 34 points & 14 rebounds in the two games.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 vs Morehead State, 12/5 vs Alabama A&M
20. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (3-0)
After finishing 16-16 last season, the Hokies weren’t on many people’s radar. They surely are now. They easily dispatched Radford by 15 & South Florida by 18. Their statement game was against #3 Villanova, however. With some hot 3-point shooting the Hokies took down the nation’s #3 team 81-73.
THIS WEEK: 12/3 vs VMI
21. RICHMOND SPIDERS (2-0)
Richmond strolled into Rupp Arena on Sunday and showed the nation that they aren’t a team to be taken lightly. After taking down Morehead St 82-64, the Spiders stunned the #10 Kentucky Wildcats. They did so in convincing fashion as well, winning the game by a score of 76-64. Their defense was paramount as they held Kentucky to 22/61 shooting, not allowing a single 3-pointer in the process.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 at Charleston, 12/5 vs Furman
22. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (2-1)
Arizona State hasn’t exactly been awe-inspiring so far, losing to #3 Villanova by 9, but I believe this team will be in or near the top-10 when March Madness rolls around. They were already returning a great backcourt from last season with G Remy Martin. They added 5* freshman G Josh Christopher, and they’re now elite. Christopher has 56 points through 3 games. As he continues to get playing time he will improve, as will the team.
THIS WEEK: 12/3 at California
23. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (0-0)
Florida State is another team waiting to start their season. Due to positive COVID-19 tests, Leonard Hamilton’s ‘Noles won’t start their 2020 campaign until Wednesday. Hopefully, that game will be played as planned so that we can get our first look at highly touted freshman G Scottie Barnes.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 vs North Florida
24. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (2-1)
This did not look like the same Texas Tech team we’ve been accustomed to the past few years on Sunday when they fell to Houston. After winning their first two games in dominant fashion, they were completely underwhelming when they faced Houston. The loss of Davide Moretti was apparent, as the Red Raiders only had 7 assists, 3 steals and committed 18 turnovers. Those are not the numbers we’re used to seeing from Chris Beard’s team.
THIS WEEK: 12/3 vs St. John’s, 12/6 vs Grambling
25. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (2-0)
The Wolverines had a mighty big scare on Sunday. After taking care of business against Bowling Green, Michigan hosted Oakland in Ann Arbor. The game did not go the way they would have liked. The Wolverines found themselves down by 2 at halftime and needed overtime to eventually win by 10. This was not a good look for Michigan, who was a 31-point favorite against the winless mid-major team.
THIS WEEK: 12/2 vs Ball State, 12/6 vs Central Florida (UCF)
THE STAFF’S FINAL FOUR PREDICTIONS
Brock Hartley (@BrockHartley_)
Team 1: Gonzaga
Team 2: Villanova
Team 3: Kentucky
Team 4: Illinois
Runner Up: Kentucky
Tanner Rahl (N/A)
Team 1: Gonzaga
Team 2: West Virginia
Team 3: Illinois
Team 4: Virginia
Runner Up: West Virginia
Matthew Bianchi (@mbyankeey11)
Team 1: Iowa
Team 2: Villanova
Team 3: Gonzaga
Team 4: Baylor
Runner Up: Iowa