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 unless stated otherwise.
-Scheduled games are subject to change due to COVID-19.
ADDED: #20 Virginia Tech, #21 Oregon, #22 Xavier, #25 Richmond
DROPPED: #20 Florida State, #22 San Diego State, #24 Oklahoma State, #25 Louisville
1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (4-0) | LW: 1
I am beginning to run out of ways to express how good Gonzaga is this year. After a 99-88 thumping of #3 Iowa, the Zags now have three victories against top-15 opponents. This way by far the most impressive. A double-digit victory against the #3 team in the nation is impressive on its own, but believe it or not, the final score undersells just how good Gonzaga looked in this game. The Bulldogs took control of this game after they reached the 10-minute mark in the first half, and they never relented. At one point the Zags were ahead by as many as 20. Gonzaga would end the game leading in every major statistical category except blocks and turnovers.
THIS WEEK: 12/21 vs Northwestern State, 12/26 vs #16 Virginia
2. BAYLOR BEARS (5-0) | LW: 2
Baylor opened Big 12 play with a bang. There is nothing like strolling into Manhattan and hanging 100 on Kansas State to put the rest of the conference on notice. The Bears did this two days after Kansas knocked off Texas Tech. This surely got their attention. The Big 12 will be one of the most exciting conferences to watch, as the top teams will continue to try and post big wins to assert their dominance. The race to the regular-season conference championship is shaping up to be a dog fight, and I am all for it.
THIS WEEK: 12/21 vs Arkansas Pine-Bluff
3. KANSAS JAYHAWKS (7-1) | LW: 5
The Jayhawks only had a single game this past week, but it was a big one. The 5th ranked Jayhawks traveled to Lubbock, Texas to take on Chris Beard’s #21 Texas Tech team. This showdown between two of the premier teams in the Big 12 lived up to the hype. This back & forth affair saw 3 lead changes in the final 60 seconds. The game-winning basket came with 14 seconds left when Kansas G Ochai Agbaji made a layup to put his team up 58-57, which would be the final score. This was a huge game for Agbaji who led the way in scoring for both teams with a career-high 23 points.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 vs #6 West Virginia
4. VILLANOVA WILDCATS (7-1) | LW: 7
Villanova’s performance may have been overshadowed by some other big games on Saturday, but they posted a solid win over St. Joseph’s. The Wildcats shot 50% from the floor en route to a 20-point victory. F Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the way for Nova with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. This game came after an equally impressive victory over Butler earlier in the week.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 at Marquette
5. WISCONSIN BADGERS (6-1) | LW: 9
Saturday’s game against #25 Louisville was a statement game for Wisconsin. One of the country’s oldest rosters outplayed and outclassed Louisville. The Badgers saw 10 of their players score, with 5 of them hitting double-digits on their way to a decisive 37-point victory over the Cardinals. Do not think that this win went unnoticed by the Big Ten, as the Badgers will be hosted by #11 Michigan State on Christmas Day.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 vs Nebraska, 12/25 at #11 Michigan State
6. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (7-1) | LW: 8
The Mountaineers were able to gut out a victory over Iowa State on Friday night in another Big 12 nail-biter that saw West Virginia trailing with 30 seconds left. This game was closer than West Virginia fans would have liked, as the Mountaineers entered the game as 14-point favorites. West Virginia made a small comeback in the final 20 minutes, finding themselves down by 9 at one point. After that, the game stayed close. During the final 10 minutes, this was a 1 possession game, as neither team was able to gain a lead of more than 3 points until West Virginia hit 2 free-throws with 6 seconds left to go up 70-65, which would end up being the final score.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 at #3 Kansas
7. HOUSTON COUGARS (5-0) | LW: 10
The Cougars got back on the court on Sunday after their previous two games were postponed. They did not look like a team who had not played for 2 weeks. They handed Alcorn State a 33-point beatdown. They shot 50% from the floor and had the upper hand in every other stat category except for FT%.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 vs Temple, 12/26 at UCF
8. IOWA HAWKEYES (6-1) | LW: 3
It’s hard not to wonder if this loss may have a mental effect on the Hawkeyes. Iowa was beginning to assert themselves as one of the elite teams in the nation. I would say they still are but losing to Gonzaga in this manner has to be a bit demoralizing considering the Zags had not played for 17 days. I am curious to see how Iowa bounces back when they begin league play this week.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 vs Purdue, 12/25 at Minnesota
9. TEXAS LONGHORNS (7-1) | LW: 12
The Longhorns won both of their games last week. They defeated Sam Houston State 79-63 on Wednesday. Then on Sunday, they hosted Oklahoma State and freshman phenom G Cade Cunningham. While Texas earned a 77-74 victory, they did not exactly do a great job at shutting Cunningham down, as he went for 25 points. They did force him to make 6 turnovers while limiting him to only 3 assists, however. They may have to step it up on defense if they want to be at the top of a loaded Big 12 Conference.
THIS WEEK: None
10. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (4-0) | LW: 13
If you recall, last week I mentioned that the Vols needed to pick up the scoring. Well, they flipped that switch on. In their two victories last week the Vols put up 182 combined points, while also limiting their opponents to a combined 87 points. In their game against Tennessee Tech, the Vols hung triple-digits on the scoreboard in a 103-49 win. Tennessee shot over 58% from the floor. In these two games, the Vols also had a huge edge in rebounding, assists, steals and turnovers. While they did not exactly face top-tier opponents (Appalachian State, Tennessee Tech), the Vols had everything clicking, which is a good sign with conference play slated to begin at the end of the month.
THIS WEEK: 12/21 vs St. Joseph’s, 12/23 vs SC Upstate
11. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (6-1) | LW: 4
Michigan State became the latest top 5 team to fall to an unranked foe. The Spartans conference play did not begin the way coach Tom Izzo wanted, as Michigan State fell to Northwestern 79-65. Being upset is one thing, but there is no excuse for a team of Michigan State’s caliber losing by 14. They better get their ducks in a row this week, because they will be facing a Wisconsin team that just systematically destroyed Louisville.
THIS WEEK: 12/25 vs #5 Wisconsin
12. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (6-0) | LW: 16
Rutgers has impressed me this year, but they were still lacking a signature win. Well, they got one of those on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights were able to make a 2nd half comeback to beat #11 Illinois 91-88. After trailing by 4 at halftime, Rutgers used a 16-3 run in the 2nd half to take a comfortable lead. Illinois made a late push, but Rutgers’ stingy defense was able to keep them at bay. They will look to keep this win streak going on Wednesday in Columbus.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 at #24 Ohio State
13. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (6-2) | LW: 6
The Bluejays fell this week to a turbulent Marquette team. They followed that loss up with victories at St. John’s and Connecticut. Creighton wound up needing extra time to take care of UConn, as the teams finished regulation all square at 66. The Bluejays would pull away in the additional 5 minutes, eventually securing a 78-74 victory.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 vs #22 Xavier
14. DUKE BLUE DEVILS (3-2) | LW: 18
Duke began their ACC play this week with a victory. The Blue Devils went into South Bend and handed Notre Dame a 75-65 loss. Duke looked good in this game, shooting over 51% from the field. They also out-rebounded Notre Dame 33-23. F Matthew Hurt once again led the Blue Devils in scoring posting 18 points while going 8 for 17 on his shot attempts.
THIS WEEK: None
15. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (5-2) | LW: 19
The Tar Heels’ dominance over Kentucky continued on Saturday when they defeated the Wildcats 75-63. It is worth noting that this victory may not be as impressive as years past, as Kentucky entered the game in a free fall, with a record of 1-4. However, a victory over John Calipari’s squad never goes unnoticed. We will see if this provides North Carolina some momentum as they enter ACC play this week.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 at NC State
16. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (3-1) | LW: 14
There is not much to report on Virginia as the basketball program is still paused due to, you guessed it… COVID-19. The Cavaliers have not played since December 4th. Hopefully, this time off will fix whatever has been off in G Kihei Clark’s game. The Cavs’ return may feel like a shock, like jumping into freezing water, because their first game back is scheduled to be against #1 Gonzaga on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: 12/26 vs #1 Gonzaga
17. MISSOURI TIGERS (5-0) | LW: 17
COVID-19 issues canceled Missouri’s lone contest last week. This means they will have to wait to play their first game of the season as a ranked team. They will get a chance to do so in a tune-up game against Bradley before they begin conference play.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 vs Bradley
18. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (5-3) | LW: 11
Illinois had an up & down week. They are having an up & down season, actually. After bashing Minnesota 92-65, the Illini would fall to #16 Rutgers. This was their 3rd loss in 5 games. In between these losses, they have two wins by 15+ points. This team has the talent and capabilities to make a Final Four run, but they need to start playing consistently at a high level before that happens. They will have a chance to string together a couple wins this week against unranked opponents.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 at Penn State, 12/26 vs Indiana
19. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (6-0) | LW: 23
I know this is starting to sound repetitive, but Michigan basketball was put on hold last week due to COVID-19. The Wolverines will look to get back into action on Christmas Day as they are scheduled to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers.
THIS WEEK: 12/25 at Nebraska
20. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (6-1) | LW: N/R
The Hokies had two impressive wins this week that made their 20-point blowout loss to Penn State even more of a head scratcher. They began the week by knocking off a solid Clemson squad. Then they handed Coppin State an embarrassing 40-point loss. The Hokies have been playing solid team basketball, spreading the ball around and maintaining their assignments on defense.
THIS WEEK: 12/21 vs Longwood
21. OREGON DUCKS (6-1) | LW: N/R
After opening the season with a loss to Missouri (which does not look all that bad now), the Ducks have won 6 straight. They won by 10 or more in 5 of those games. They will look to keep the wins coming when they begin league play this week.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 vs UCLA
22. XAVIER MUSKETEERS (8-0) | LW: N/R
Xavier has been a surprising team this year. They are 8 games into their season and they still do not have a blemish on their record. The emergence of Zach Freemantle has been a big reason why the Musketeers are winning. The sophomore forward is averaging 17.5 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories. Xavier has a dangerous duo with Freemantle and G Paul Scruggs, who is 2nd on the team in points per game with 16.4.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 at #13 Creighton
23. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (6-2) | LW: 21
The Red Raiders suffered a 1-point loss to #5 Kansas this past week by a score of 58-57. The game was the 2nd loss on the year for Texas Tech. While a 1-point loss to the 5th ranked team in the country is hardly cause for concern, Texas Tech’s ability to score may be. In their two games against ranked opponents this year, Chris Beard’s team failed to break 60 points. This could be an issue down the road because it would appear that the Big 12 will be one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. The good news? The defense for Texas Tech still appears to be intact. It is not easy to hold the Jayhawks to under 60 points.
THIS WEEK: 12/22 at Oklahoma
24. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (6-1) | LW: 15
The Buckeyes suffered a 7-point loss at Purdue last week but bounced back with a 7-point win over UCLA in the CBS Classic. The real test begins this week for Ohio State, however, when they host #12 Rutgers and then travel to Northwestern to face a Wildcats team who just knocked off #4 Michigan State.
THIS WEEK: 12/23 vs #12 Rutgers, 12/26 at Northwestern
25. RICHMOND SPIDERS (6-1) | LW: N/R
The Spiders climbed back into my rankings this week after posting road wins against Vanderbilt and Loyola-Chicago. Richmond was shooting hot, finishing each game with a FG% over 50%. It would appear that they will be slugging it out with Saint Louis for the A-10 regular season title.