Rankings mentioned in the article are in reference to the Rahl Review rankings, they are not the official AP Rankings unless stated otherwise.
Scheduled games are subject to change due to COVID-19.
ADDED TO RANKINGS: #18 Missouri, #22 San Diego State, #24 Oklahoma State, #25 Louisville
DROPPED FROM RANKINGS: #19 Virginia Tech, #20 Richmond, #21 Arizona State, #25 Florida
1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS 3-0 (LW: 1)
The Zags did not play this week after positive COVID-19 tests. They have done enough in the games they did play to maintain their top spot in my rankings, however. Mark Few & company will be back in action on December 19th against #3 Iowa. The teams will be playing on a neutral court in South Dakota with no fans in attendance.
This Week: 12/19 vs #3 Iowa
2. BAYLOR BEARS 4-0 (LW: 2)
A major showdown between two “Lone Star State” teams was canceled this week, as Baylor’s matchup against Texas was called off due to COVID. Baylor did add a victory to their win column this week against Stephen F. Austin, who they defeated by a score of 83-52. It was a true team effort. They had 5 players score double-digits, with 43 points coming off the bench.
This Week: 12/15 vs Tarleton State, 12/19 at Kansas State
3. IOWA HAWKEYES 6-0 (LW: 3)
As the tiers of college basketball teams begin to take shape, one thing is for certain. Iowa. Is. Elite. This team can flat out score. Iowa has played 6 games. They have scored at least 93 points in all 6. They broke 100 in 3 of those, including 2 games this week (Iowa St, Northern Illinois). Who did they play in their 93-point game, their lowest scoring contest of the year? That was against Roy Williams’ #16 Tar Heels. By far their toughest opponent to this point. They won that game by 13 by the way. This high-flying offense has everyone circling December 19th on their calendar, as that is when they take on #1 Gonzaga in a battle of college basketball juggernauts.
This Week: 12/19 vs #1 Gonzaga
4. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS 6-0 (LW: 4)
Do you remember that elite tier that I mentioned? Michigan State is beginning to force their way into that tier as well, and they are doing a good job. They only played 1 game this week, which was against Oakland. The Spartans would hang 109 points on the board, nailing 15 three-pointers along the way.
This Week: 12/20 at Northwestern
5. KANSAS JAYHAWKS 6-1 (LW: 5)
The Jayhawks pulled out a nail-biting victory over #6 Creighton this week (see the summary in Creighton’s overview). That was a big win for a program whose only defeat is to #1 Gonzaga. Three days later they would pour 95 points on Nebraska-Omaha, en route to a 45-point victory. The reason I think the Creighton victory is important is because it will be a confidence booster for a team who is about to tip-off conference play against 3 straight ranked opponents.
This Week: 12/17 at #21 Texas Tech
6. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS 4-1 (LW: 6)
Creighton and G Marcus Zegarowski suffered an extremely heartbreaking loss to #5 Kansas last week. The Bluejays found themselves down 3 with 12 seconds remaining. Zegarowski then somehow managed to draw a foul on a 3-point attempt from the wing with only 1.1 seconds remaining. This put him on the foul line, trying to tie the game in dramatic fashion. He sank the first 2 free throws…. but would bounce the tying free-throw off of the back of the iron, thus securing Kansas’ 1-point victory. Creighton bounced back on Friday night, defeating in-state opponent Nebraska 98-74. Zegarowski seemed to have shaken off that missed FT, as he led the way in scoring with 22 points. He also chipped in 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.
This Week: 12/14 vs Marquette, 12/17 at St. John’s, 12/20 at Connecticut
7. VILLANOVA WILDCATS 5-1 (LW: 9)
After knocking off Maui Invitational Champion Texas last Sunday, the Wildcats had only 1 contest this week, and it was something special. They traveled to D.C. on Friday night to take on the Georgetown Hoyas, a team that they were favored over by 11.5 points. In the 1st half, however, you would have thought that Villanova was the double-digit dog. The Wildcats found themselves going into the locker room at halftime down 46-33. A thundering 2nd half comeback would ensue thanks to their 3-point shooting and defensive efforts. Villanova would make 8 three-pointers in the 2nd half. They also clamped down on defense, holding Georgetown to only 17 2nd half points. This allowed Villanova to pull away for a 76-63 victory.
This Week: 12/14 vs DePaul, 12/16 vs Butler, 12/19 vs #14 Virginia
8. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS 6-1 (LW: 11)
The Mountaineers got a jump in the rankings after defeating their first ranked opponent of the season, and they did so convincingly. #20 Richmond went into Morgantown and were hand-delivered an 87-71 thrashing. At one point the Mountaineers were ahead by 30. This was a statement win for an impressive team who is poised to make a deep run in the spring.
This Week: 12/18 vs Iowa State
9. WISCONSIN BADGERS 4-1 (LW: 11)
The Badgers won their lone contest this week, defeating Rhode Island 73-62. G Brad Davison led the way in scoring with 23 points. Wisconsin will have another light workload this week, once again playing only 1 game. They will begin Big Ten Conference play the week after.
This Week: 12/16 vs Northern Iowa
10. HOUSTON COUGARS 4-0 (LW: 10)
There is not much to report here, as Houston has not played since December 5th. As you may have guessed, COVID-19 is the reason that the Cougars have put basketball on pause. Hopefully, they can get back out there on Saturday.
This Week: 12/19 at Alabama
11. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI 4-2 (LW: 7)
An up & down week for Illinois saw them drop to #11. After dropping #8 Duke 83-68, the Illini traveled to Colombia and suffered an 81-78 loss to up & coming Missouri. G Ayo Dosunmu has carried the bulk of the load, scoring 18 against Duke and then 36 against Missouri. They may need G Trent Frazier to get going in order to climb back up into the top 10. Frazier only had 14 points combined in the two games.
This Week: 12/15 vs Minnesota, 12/20 at #16 Rutgers
12. TEXAS LONGHORNS 5-1 (LW: 14)
Texas looked dominant in their lone game this week against Texas State. The 74-53 victory saw 10 Longhorns players score. F Greg Brown led the way with 18 points. They will begin Big 12 play this week when they host #24 Oklahoma State.
This Week: 12/16 vs Sam Houston State, 12/20 vs #24 Oklahoma State
13. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS 2-0 (LW: 15)
We got our first look at the 2020 Vols this week, and their defense did not disappoint. In their 2 wins, they held Colorado to only 47 points, and Cincinnati to only 56. Tennessee was able to force a combined 40 turnovers in the 2 games. I am sure they will want to begin focusing on picking up the scoring on offense, however, as they only scored 56 vs Colorado and 65 vs Cincinnati.
This Week: 12/15 vs Appalachian State, 12/18 vs Tennessee Tech
14. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS 5-1 (LW: 13)
Both of Virginia’s games were postponed this week. This was a huge disappointment as they were slated to take on #4 Michigan State on Wednesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Hopefully, the Cavs will be able to get back into action this week, as they are scheduled to begin ACC play. They are also supposed to travel to New York to take on #7 Villanova in Madison Square Garden.
This Week: 12/16 at Wake Forest, 12/19 vs #7 Villanova
15. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES 5-0 (LW: 17)
So far, so good for the Buckeyes. Ohio State remains undefeated after defeating Notre Dame & Cleveland State. They were closer contests than Ohio State fans would have liked, however, with the Notre Dame victory coming by 5 and the Cleveland State win coming by 6. The Cleveland State game could be interpreted as concerning since the Buckeyes were 24.5-point favorites. We should receive some kind of measurement of just how good this Ohio State team is when they take on their first ranked opponent of the year, #19 North Carolina.
This Week: 12/16 at Purdue, 12/19 vs #19 North Carolina
16. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS 4-0 (LW: 18)
Rutgers found themselves in a dog fight coming down the stretch in the 2nd half against Syracuse. With 5:43 left in the game, the Orange made a layup to take a 3-point lead. The Scarlet Knights then turned to their bread & butter: defense. Rutgers locked it down on the defensive end of the court, as they did not allow another basket from that point on. This allowed them to take a comfortable 8-point lead with 2 minutes remaining. The Orange managed to put up some points from the line with under 2 minutes left, but it was too little, too late. Rutgers would go on to win the game 79-69. I am anxious to see how this defense holds up against an extremely deep Big Ten Conference this season.
This Week: 12/14 at Maryland, 12/20 vs #11 Illinois
17. MISSOURI TIGERS 5-0 (LW: N/R)
The Missouri Tigers may have been extremely overlooked in the preseason. After going 15-16 last season, they were picked to finish 8th in the SEC this year. Now after 5 games they are looking like an SEC Championship contender. They returned 4 starters from last season, and that experience shows. They defeated Oregon, who was ranked 21st in the AP Poll at the time. Their latest triumph came on Saturday night when they took down #7 Illinois. This was the coming-out party they needed to put themselves in the national spotlight.
This Week: 12/18 vs Prairie View A&M
18. DUKE BLUE DEVILS 2-2 (LW: 8)
Duke has had an extremely underwhelming start to the 2020 campaign. Their 2 victories came against Coppin State & Bellarmine. Although Duke won these games, they did not exactly impress. They failed to cover the spread in both contests. Most notably against Coppin State. Duke only won this game by 10 points, even though the Blue Devils were a 38-point favorite. Sandwiched between those wins was a 6-point home loss at the hands of Michigan State, a team that Duke has had great success against in the past. They most recently played against #7 Illinois, against whom they suffered an uncharacteristic 15-point loss. On defense, Coach K’s squad did not have an answer for Illinois’ offensive attack. Nor were they able to keep up by scoring points of their own. Duke needs to shape up fast, as the next time they take the floor will mark the beginning of conference play for them.
This Week: 12/16 at Notre Dame
19. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS 4-2 (LW: 16)
The Tar Heels ran into a monster last week in the form of the #3 Iowa Hawkeyes. North Carolina had trouble defending the perimeter, allowing Iowa to go 17/40 (42.5%) from three. They followed the loss up with a victory, though not an impressive one. They defeated NC-Central by just 6 points, also allowing them to shoot over 42% from beyond the arc. They will need to buckle down this week when they take on the 15th ranked Buckeyes.
This Week: 12/19 at #15 Ohio State
20. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES 3-0 (LW: 22)
Welcome to college basketball, Scottie Barnes. The Florida State phenom guard looks to be acclimating well to the step-up in competition. He hit the game-winner in overtime against the Indiana Hoosiers. He followed that up with a 17-point performance against in-state rival Florida. He also had 5 assists in each contest. With the football program in shambles, there is no doubt that he is the talk of the campus in Tallahassee.
This Week: 12/15 vs Georgia Tech, 12/19 vs UCF
21. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS 6-1 (LW: 23)
The Red Raiders managed 2 victories last week, albeit against far inferior opponents. They defeated Abilene Christian 51-44 and Corpus Christi 77-57. While the stingy Texas Tech defense that we are accustomed to is still there, it would appear that they need to start producing more on offense. Especially when they begin conference play against #5 Kansas this week.
This Week: 12/17 vs #5 Kansas
22. SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS 5-0 (LW: N/R)
The Aztecs are making some noise, and I hear them. They opened the season with a 15-point victory against then #22 AP-ranked UCLA. Their latest victory came against #21 Arizona State when they defeated the Sun Devils 80-68, another double-digit win against a ranked opponent. With the start of conference play in sight, San Diego State appears to be the team to beat in the Mountain West.
This Week: 12/18 vs BYU
23. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES 6-0 (LW: 24)
It wasn’t pretty, but Michigan managed to stay undefeated against Penn State. The 62-58 victory came after beating Toledo by 20 earlier in the week. One thing is clear, Michigan needs to take this extended time off to work on ball security. The Wolverines have committed 10+ turnovers in 5 of their 6 games.
This Week: NONE
24. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS 6-0 (LW: N/R)
Freshman G Cade Cunningham has willed the Cowboys into my top 25. Cunningham has the Cowboys undefeated as he is averaging over 18 points per game. He was the Cowboys leading scorer in 4 games. I am excited to see how his game will look in Big 12 play, which the Cowboys begin this week.
This Week: 12/16 vs TCU, 12/20 at #12 Texas
25. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS 4-0 (LW: N/R)
Louisville is a basketball school. Flat out. After beginning the year outside of the rankings, the Cardinals are undefeated through 4 games. They won 3 of those by 21 points or more. They should be able to keep things going, as the beginning of their ACC schedule is quite enviable, and rival Kentucky appears to be in a down year.
This Week: 12/16 vs NC State