An exciting week of basketball that included the Maui Invitational and the Champions Classic, saw two top 5 teams go down. So far, this season has featured some chaos early, as well as plenty of matchups between ranked, non-conference opponents. These tasty matchups will continue over the next 7 days, in a week that is headlined by the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. So here are the new Rahl Reviews Top 25 College Basketball Rankings for the week. As always, contact the Rahl Reviews sports staff on Twitter (@RahlBets) to give us any feedback or suggestions that you may have regarding our Top 25! We look forward to hearing your remarks! Enjoy!
Rankings mentioned in the article are in reference to the Rahl Review rankings, they are not the official AP Rankings.
Scheduled games are subject to change due to COVID-19.
ADDED TO RANKINGS: #25 Florida
DROPPED FROM RANKINGS: #17 Kentucky
1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS 3-0 (LW: 1)
College basketball fans across the nation suffered a major disappointment on Saturday. Due to a positive COVID-19 test within Gonzaga’s program, their game against Baylor on Saturday had to be postponed. This deprived basketball fans of a game between the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the country. The week was not a total loss for the Zags, however, as they defeated #13 West Virginia on Wednesday. After trailing by 5 at halftime, Gonzaga used an explosive 2nd half en route to an 87-82 victory over the Mountaineers.
This Week: 12/8 vs Tarleton State, 12/10 vs Southern, 12/12 vs Northern Arizona
2. BAYLOR BEARS 3-0 (LW: 2)
Baylor’s week was not wasted either. They made a statement on Wednesday night against #4 Illinois. The statement? Baylor is back and looking for a national title. They played a very elite, well-rounded Illinois team and were able to take complete control in the 2nd half. At the half, Baylor was up 31-30. It appeared as if the game was going to come down to the last shot. Baylor did not let that happen. They broke through the Illini’s defense in the final 20 minutes, winning the half by a score of 51-39. This game cemented their status, proving that they are among the nation’s best college basketball teams this season.
This Week: 12/8 vs Nicholls, 12/13 vs #14 Texas
3. IOWA HAWKEYES 3-0 (LW: 3)
Do you know what the most impressive thing about Luka Garza is? It is not that he has scored a whopping 102 points through his first 3 games. It is that he is doing this even though he was expected to. Usually, for a player like Luka Garza, it is hard to live up to expectations as great as his. It is hard to do that because opponents have known that they would have to plan & prepare for him since before the season tipped off. It gives them extra time to prepare and make a plan to try and slow him down. Nobody has succeeded though. In fact, you could make the argument that even though teams had ample time to strategize a defense for him, he has exceeded his Player of the Year expectations. That is what impresses me the most. Iowa is aboard the Garza train, and it does not appear as though it will be slowing down any time soon. We will see if Roy Williams’ Tar Heels have an answer for him on Tuesday.
This Week: 12/8 vs #16 North Carolina, 12/11 vs Iowa State, 12/13 vs Northern Illinois
4. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS 5-0 (LW: 9)
No more Cassius Winston, no problem. I personally did not expect Michigan State to rise up the rankings this quickly. I thought an adjustment period may have been needed after Tom Izzo’s squad lost their floor general Cassius Winston, who was their leading scorer last year and the program’s all-time assist leader. Especially considering that there was not much time to adjust because of the COVID restrictions. To much surprise, the transition has been seamless. To put into perspective how well the translation has gone, the Spartans beat #6 Duke 75-69 at Cameron Indoor last week. Prior to that victory, Tom Izzo was 2-11 all-time vs Coach K.
This Week: 12/9 at #13 Virginia, 12/13 vs Oakland
5. KANSAS JAYHAWKS 4-1 (LW: 7)
Kansas showed some toughness in the Champions Classic against #17 Kentucky. The Jayhawks found themselves down by double digits early. They were still down double digits early in the 2nd half. With G Marcus Garrett under the weather and showing physical discomfort, it felt like Kentucky was getting ready to pull away. Quite the opposite happened. Kansas G Ochai Agbaji and F Jalen Wilson stepped up in a big way. The 2 combined for 40 points and led Kansas to a comeback victory. Kansas would go on to win 2 more games last week, making the team seemingly prepared to take on #6 Creighton on Tuesday.
This Week: 12/8 vs #6 Creighton, 12/11 vs Nebraska-Omaha, 12/13 vs Tarleton State
6. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS 3-0 (LW: 8)
The Jays are rolling through their first 3 games. The offense appears to be humming as they scored 90+ points in both contests last week. The most impressive part of Creighton is that it is purely a team effort, as they had 8 different players scoring double-digits in these two games combined. Being able to spread the ball around like that is typically the mark of an elite team. Not to mention it makes for a relentless offensive attack. Creighton’s offense will be put to the test on Tuesday when they take on the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett and the Kansas Jayhawks in a showdown of Top 10 teams.
This Week: 12/8 at #5 Kansas, 12/11 vs Nebraska
7. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI 3-1 (LW: 4)
Illinois was tested early this year when they took on #2 Baylor just 4 games into the season. You could say the Illini failed that test, as they fell to Baylor 82-69. This game was a tale of 2 halves. Illinois went into halftime keeping up with the Bears, trailing by only 1. Baylor pulled away in the final 20 minutes, however, outscoring Illinois by 12. Trent Frazier & Kofi Cockburn just could not get going vs a stifling Baylor defense who limited them to just 15 combined points. Illinois will be tested again on Tuesday when they travel to Cameron Indoor to play #8 Duke as part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This Week: 12/8 at #8 Duke, 12/12 at Missouri
8. DUKE BLUE DEVILS 2-1 (LW: 6)
Duke suffered their first loss of the season when they fell to #9 Michigan State in the Champions Classic by a score of 75-69. The Blue Devils’ poor shooting was perhaps the main factor in the defeat, as they only shot 32% from the field. Duke bounced back against Bellarmine in their next game, winning 76-54. The team’s shooting improved in this contest, ending the game with a FG% of 52%. Although that is to be expected when a team of Duke’s caliber takes on an inferior opponent such as Bellarmine.
This Week: 12/6 vs Elon, 12/8 vs #7 Illinois, 12/12 vs Charleston Southern
9. VILLANOVA WILDCATS 4-1 (LW: 10)
Jay Wright’s team had a good bounce-back week, even though 2 scheduled games were postponed. They throttled Hartford 87-53 for a 34-point victory. Then on Sunday, they traveled to Austin, Texas to edge out the newly crowned Maui Invitational champion #16 Texas Longhorns by a score of 68-64.
This Week: 12/11 at Georgetown
10. HOUSTON COUGARS 4-0 (LW: 11)
The Cougars continue to impress me. In their only game of the week, Houston found themselves down 7 to South Carolina early in the 2nd half. It took them less than 3 minutes to erase that deficit and take the head. They were then able to pull away, eventually winning by a score of 77-67. G Quentin Grimes led the way in scoring, posting 23 points for the Cougars, most of which came from the free-throw line where he made 14 of 15 free-throw attempts.
This Week: 12/9 vs Sam Houston State, 12/12 vs Rice
11. WISCONSIN BADGERS 3-1 (LW: 5)
Down go the Badgers! We are only 10 days into the season and Wisconsin is already the 3rd Top 5 team to fall to an unranked opponent. Badgers fans suffered a heart-breaking loss when in-state rival Marquette was able to tip in a missed free throw as the buzzer sounded. With the game tied at 65, there was a moment of relief when the free-throw attempt bounced off the iron with 0.9 seconds left. Marquette F Justin Lewis turned that relief to ash, however, as he redirected the rebound back toward the rim with one hand. The shot fell, and now so do the Badgers in the rankings. Although, it is hard to be too critical of a team who loses on the road in a rivalry game that is as intense as this one.
This Week: 12/9 vs Louisville
12. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS 4-1 (LW: 13)
Even though WVU suffered a defeat, they have managed to climb a spot in my rankings. This is partly due to the fact that the loss was to #1 Gonzaga. Although they eventually lost 87-82, the Mountaineers were able to hang with the Zags for the majority of the game. WVU even had the lead with 6:30 remaining. This announced to the nation that the Mountaineers can compete with any team, as they were a couple of baskets away from taking down #1.
This Week: 12/9 vs Robert Morris, 12/13 vs #20 Richmond
13. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS 3-1 (LW: 14)
I’m not sure what is going on with the Cavaliers. They have won both of their games since falling to San Francisco, but they hardly look like a team who opened the season at #4 in the AP poll. They found themselves at risk of falling to another mid-major opponent when they hosted Kent State, who they wound up needing overtime to beat. The biggest concern with Virginia is the play of Kihei Clark, who was expected to be one of the top guards in the country and the leader of this Cavaliers team. College basketball fans were shocked when he was taken out of the starting lineup vs St. Francis, which was just their 3rd game of the season. He once again came off the bench against Kent State. His play improved in that game, scoring 14 points and assisting on 3 buckets. We will see if that gets him back in the lineup when the Cavs take on #4 Michigan State on Wednesday.
This Week: 12/9 vs #4 Michigan State
14. TEXAS LONGHORNS 4-1 (LW: 16)
A successful week for the Longhorns saw them defeating Davidson, Indiana, and finally #12 North Carolina in the Maui Invitational Championship game. Winning the most prestigious in-season tournament is a huge accomplishment for an experienced Texas team as it established them as a team to be feared. The Longhorns did stumble in their first game after the tournament, however. They fell 68-64 to #10 Villanova at home. It is hard to blame them for the loss though, considering this was their 4th game of the week.
This Week: 12/9 vs Texas State, 12/13 at #2 Baylor
15. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS 0-0 (LW: 15)
We will finally get our first look at Rick Barnes’ Vols team this Saturday when they take on Cincinnati. The biggest question I have is will they have an effective offense to go along with an extremely stingy, stifling defense? If so, this team will be among the nation’s biggest threats come March.
This Week: 12/12 vs Cincinnati
16. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS 3-1 (LW: 12)
Though they did not win the event, runner-up in the Maui Invitational is nothing to be ashamed of. The Tar Heels defeated UNLV & Stanford before eventually falling to a tough Texas opponent in the championship game. North Carolina will face an even bigger challenge this week when they travel to Iowa City to take on Luka Garza’s #3 Iowa Hawkeyes as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This Week: 12/8 at #3 Iowa, 12/12 vs Elon
17. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES 3-0 (LW: 19)
The Buckeyes have been able to run through the inferior teams they have faced. Now we will get a look at how Ohio State plays against a team from a major conference. On Tuesday, the Buckeyes travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame. As of now, the Buckeyes look dangerous, party due to their balanced scoring. The team’s top 3 scorers are all averaging within 0.7 points of each other. F Justice Sueing (15.0), G Duane Washington Jr (14.7) and F E.J. Liddell (14.3) have given the Buckeyes 3 scoring options, both inside and out, which is awfully hard to defend. Let’s see how that translates against a typically sound Notre Dame team when the two face each other in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This Week: 12/8 at Notre Dame, 12/13 vs Cleveland State
18. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS 3-0 (LW: 18)
The Scarlet Knights were off this week. They will return to action Tuesday when they take part in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Syracuse in a matchup of two teams who are both undefeated in this young season at 3-0.
This Week: 12/8 vs Syracuse
19. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES 4-0 (LW: 20)
The Hokies’ lone contest this week saw them remain undefeated after defeating VMI 64-57. It was not the prettiest victory, as Virginia Tech was a 20.5-point favorite, but they got the job done. F Keve Aluma led the way for Va Tech, posting 17 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. The Hokies will look to remain perfect this week when they face Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This Week: 12/8 vs Penn State
20. RICHMOND SPIDERS 2-0 (LW: 21)
Richmond was off this past week after climbing into the rankings. They will play 3 games this week, the most notable being a matchup in Morgantown against #12 West Virginia.
This Week: 12/7 vs Wofford, 12/9 vs Northern Iowa, 12/13 at #12 West Virginia
21. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS 3-1 (LW: 22)
The Sun Devils won their lone matchup this week when they traveled to California and defeated the Golden Bears 70-62. Guards Remy Martin & Josh Christopher look to be meshing well, as they combined for 36 points. Logic would dictate that this duo will only get better over time as freshman Josh Christopher gets more playing time and experience at the college level. That is a very scary thought for the rest of the PAC-12.
This Week: 12/10 vs San Diego State, 12/13 at Grand Canyon
22. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES 1-0 (LW: 23)
Florida State’s season tipped off successfully, as the Noles downed North Florida 86-58. As usual, the Seminoles scoring was widely distributed, with 12 different players putting up points. Scottie Barnes looked decent in his first collegiate game, posting a line of 8-6-6. We should be able to start getting an idea of just how competitive the 2020 Noles team will be on Wednesday when they host Indiana in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup.
This Week: 12/9 vs Indiana, 12/12 vs #25 Florida
23. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS 4-1 (LW: 24)
This is the Texas Tech we are used to seeing. Measured. Controlling. Domineering. Texas Tech beat Troy 80-46. Then posted a similar score against Grambling State when they defeated them 81-40. Is this the true identity of this Texas Tech team? Or were these outcomes dictated by the inferior teams they have faced? They did not show this kind of meticulous play against Houston. We may have to wait a while to learn their true identity, as they do not play a major opponent again until they face #5 Kansas on December 17th.
This Week: 12/9 vs Abilene Christian, 12/12 vs Corpus Christi
24. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES 4-0 (LW: 25)
After a scare at home vs Oakland, the Wolverines turned things around and are now looking like a dangerous squad. They played Ball St & UCF this week, winning by margins of 19 & 22. Michigan has looked extremely deep as their bench combined for 75 points in these 2 games. They will look to keep this trend going when they face NC State on Wednesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This Week: 12/9 vs NC State, 12/13 vs Penn State
25. FLORIDA GATORS 3-0 (LW: N/R)
After having to wait a week, the Gators season is off and running. The duo of G Tre Mann and F Keyontae Johnson have been leading the way. Through 3 games Johnson is the leading scorer averaging over 19 points per game. Mann has led the way in assists, dishing out 4 per game. Mann is also chipping in over 15 points per game. This is a dangerous Gators team who will get their first test of the season when they take on their Sunshine State rival #22 Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday.
This Week: 12/12 at #22 Florida State