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: #19 Minnesota, #22 Northwestern, #25 Florida State
DROPPED: #15 North Carolina, #22 Xavier, #25 Richmond
1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (7-0) | LW: 1
The Zags have once again managed to outdo themselves. I simply cannot give this team enough praise. After defeating Northwestern State on back-to-back nights, something that I don’t think I’ve seen before in college basketball, they went on to whoop #16 Virginia on a neutral court in Texas. Virginia is a team that has been among the nation’s elite for years now. They are a team known for their stymying defense. Yet Gonzaga went out and almost hung a century mark on them. Behind the hot three-point shooting of Corey Kispert and strong post play by Drew Timme, the Bulldogs rolled over Virginia by a score of 98-75. Kispert was 9/13 from three and ended the game with 32 points. Timme chipped in 29 points and 8 rebounds. If the Zags keep this up, then every other team in the nation may be playing for 2nd place.
THIS WEEK: 12/28 vs Northern Arizona, 12/29 vs Dixie State, 1/2 vs San Francisco
2. BAYLOR BEARS (6-0) | LW: 2
Baylor only had one game this past week, and they put on an excellent demonstration of how a basketball team can play as a unit. In their 99-42 victory over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, the Bears got nearly everyone involved on both sides of the ball. On defense they had 6 players register a steal and 9 players secure at least one rebound. This tight defense with ball pressure at every position helped limit their opponent to only 12 points in the first half. On offense, the Bears had 11 players score, with 5 of them scoring double-digit points. They also had 9 players dish out at least one assist. We have learned from recent years that this type of balance on a team is paramount to make a Final Four run come March. While the low-quality opponent they faced surely helped Baylor build these numbers up, it still shows that the Bears are a deep and balanced team at each position.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Central Arkansas, 1/2 at Iowa State
3. KANSAS JAYHAWKS (8-1) | LW: 3
Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks only played one game last week, but it was a big game that resulted in a big win. The Jayhawks hosted the #6 West Virginia Mountaineers on Tuesday and secured a 79-65 victory. The 14-point margin of victory was primarily due to some hot 2nd half shooting after Kansas went into halftime down by one. The Jayhawks could not seem to miss in the final 20 minutes. They made 9 three-pointers in the 2nd half which helped them pull away. This was Kansas’ 3rd matchup against a top-10 opponent. They are now 2-1 in these games. This is a good sign, as Kansas’ brutal schedule currently includes 6 more games in which they will face a top-10 opponent.
THIS WEEK: 1/2 vs #7 Texas
4. VILLANOVA WILDCATS (8-1) | LW: 4
Villanova traveled to Marquette this past week to post an 85-68 win over the Golden Eagles, their lone game of the week. It’s unclear how impressive this victory was, however. Marquette has had an extremely turbulent season. They went into this game with a record of just 5-4, but two of their victories had come against top-10 opponents. Nevertheless, Villanova’s victory over Marquette is something to feel good about, whether the Golden Eagles are for real, or not. G Colin Gillespie led the way for Nova, scoring 22 points. This was the second time he hit the 20-point mark this year. Villanova will try to build off this win as their conference play this week includes a trip to Ohio to take on Xavier.
THIS WEEK: 12/30 vs St. John’s, 1/2 at Xavier
5. WISCONSIN BADGERS (8-1) | LW: 5
Wisconsin began their conference schedule this past week after they demolished Louisville. It appeared as if they carried the momentum from that game into Big Ten play. The Badgers defeated Nebraska 67-53 on Tuesday. They followed that up with an 85-76 signature victory on the road against #11 Michigan State. This was a big win for the Badgers as they were only 1-8 against the Spartans in their nine previous meetings. On top of that, the Badgers had not won a game in East Lansing since 2004. This Wisconsin group had high expectations coming into the season and ending a streak like that against a quality opponent like Michigan State is a good sign. The Badgers faithful surely have high hopes for this team.
THIS WEEK: 12/28 vs Maryland, 12/31 vs #19 Minnesota, 1/3 at Penn State
6. HOUSTON COUGARS (7-0) LW: 7
The Cougars started conference play with a 26-point victory over Temple and then followed that up with an impressive road win over UCF by a score of 63-54. The Cougars are an impressive team that continues to win. My one concern with them, however, is the lack of ranked opponents on their schedule. They defeated a ranked Texas Tech team in November, but there are currently no top 25 teams on their remaining schedule. It is always good to be tested by a tough opponent before entering tournament season.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 at Tulsa, 1/3 at SMU
7. TEXAS LONGHORNS (7-1) | LW: 9
Shaka Smart’s Longhorns team had this past week off. I am sure that this was a welcome breather considering their upcoming schedule. The Maui Invitational champs will be playing two top-10 opponents only a week apart. They will have what could be considered a “tune-up” game against Corpus Christi on Tuesday. Then they will travel to “The Phog” to take on the perennial Big 12 juggernaut #3 Kansas Jayhawks. With Texas back in the top-10 this season, this game will surely be a little more heated than in years past. This is one of those games that makes you wish fans were allowed to fill the arena, as Allen Fieldhouse would be rockin’ for this one.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Corpus Christi, 1/2 at #3 Kansas
8. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (6-0) | LW: 10
The Vols kept their loss column clean this past week, defeating St. Joseph’s 102-66 and SC Upstate 80-60. The victory against St. Joseph’s was the 2nd consecutive game that Tennessee broke triple-digits. They kept their scoring balanced, with 10 players chipping in, with six of them scoring double-digits. This recent scoring outbreak from Tennessee is a great sign for Vols fans. While they have been lighting up their side of the scoreboard, their opponents have not. Tennessee has not yet conceded 70 points in a game. They have the appearance of a team that could make a deep run.
THIS WEEK: 12/30 at #13 Missouri, 1/2 vs Alabama
9. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (7-2) | LW: 6
West Virginia also played only one game last week. Their game against #3 Kansas was a tale of two halves for Bob Huggins’ squad. The Mountaineers went into the locker room at Allen Fieldhouse with a 36-35 lead after the first 20 minutes. This was thanks to a buzzer-beating three by G Sam McNeil. This capped off a huge 20-point half for McNeil and excellent team performance from West Virginia. However, McNeil’s hot shooting and the Mountaineers’ great performance would both dissipate after halftime. McNeil would only score 4 points in the 2nd half and West Virginia could not slow down Kansas’ shooting. West Virginia would lose the 2nd half 44-29. West Virginia will not have to sit with this sour taste in their mouth for a while as they are off until after the new year.
THIS WEEK: 1/2 at Oklahoma
10. IOWA HAWKEYES (7-2) | LW: 8
The high-scoring Hawkeyes suffered their second loss, and first upset of the season when they fell to Minnesota in overtime on Christmas Day. They started conference play last week with a 70-55 win over Purdue, but things did not go as smoothly when they traveled to Minnesota to take on the Gophers. Iowa C Luka Garza went off with 37 points and 17 rebounds for his 5th double-double of the season, but it was not enough. The two teams ended regulation tied at 83, then a high-scoring OT period ensued. The Gophers got hot from three in the additional 5-minute frame, outscoring Iowa 19-12 to drop the Hawkeyes to 7-2 on the year. Iowa will look to bounce back this week. They have two conference games scheduled, including a meeting with #16 Rutgers.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Northwestern, 1/2 at #16 Rutgers
11. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (7-2) | LW: 13
Creighton managed to hand #22 Xavier their first loss last week. This game was a close contest, but Creighton was able to pull out a win after clamping down on defense late in the game. The Bluejays surrender only 3 points in the final 2 minutes, allowing them to secure a 66-61 win over their Big East opponent. They will now hit the road to continue Big East play.
THIS WEEK: 12/30 at Georgetown, 1/2 at Providence
12. DUKE BLUE DEVILS (3-2) | LW: 14
Coach K’s squad gets back on the court this week to resume ACC league play after having nearly two weeks off. They will be able to ease back into things at first when they take on a Pitt team who is in the middle of trying to rebuild their program. They will then be thrown into the fire, however, when they travel to Tallahassee to take on #25 Florida State, who some experts believe is the team to beat in the ACC this year. If recent meetings are any indicators, this should be a tight, closely contested matchup between two extremely well-coached teams. This will be a game to watch, as it could play a large factor in who is crowned the ACC regular-season champion at the end of the year.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Pitt, 1/2 at #25 Florida State
13. MISSOURI TIGERS (6-0) | LW: 17
After defeating Illinois, the Tigers found themselves quickly rising up the rankings. They almost dropped out just as quickly on Tuesday. Missouri hosted the Bradley Bears as 10-point favorites but found themselves down by 2 with 10 seconds left when they secured a rebound from a missed Bradley free throw. Tigers F Jeremiah Tilmon was able to get to the rim and draw a foul on his game-tying layup with 1 second left. He would sink the free throw for the Tigers to take a 54-53 lead, which would be the final score. It is possible that the Tigers were caught looking ahead in this game. They host #8 Tennessee this week.
THIS WEEK: 12/30 vs #8 Tennessee, 1/2 at Arkansas
14. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (7-3) | LW: 18
After dropping a game to Rutgers two weeks ago, the Illini bounced back with two Big Ten wins over Penn State and Indiana. They defeated Penn State by a 17-point margin and proceeded to drop Indiana by a score of 69-60. The key to these wins was the play of Ayo Dosunmu. The Illinois guard put up matching 30 point & 5 assist efforts in both contests. Along with teammates Kofi Cockburn and Trent Frazier, the Illini are a dangerous team when these guys are clicking.
THIS WEEK: 1/2 vs Purdue
15. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (7-0) | LW: 19
The Wolverines got back on the court this past week to end a long hiatus. This was Michigan’s first game since December 13th. They traveled to Nebraska just in time to give their fans a victory for Christmas. Despite turning the ball over 15 times, the Wolverines managed to come away with an 80-69 victory. Franz Wagner led the way in scoring for Michigan with 20 points. Wolverine C Hunter Dickinson pitched in with a 13 point & 15 rebound double-double. Isaiah Livers also chipped in 17 points. This win kept Michigan undefeated, which is something the other Big Ten teams surely notice.
THIS WEEK: 12/31 at Maryland, 1/3 vs #22 Northwestern
16. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (6-1) | LW: 12
Rutgers suffered their first disappointment of the season last week when they traveled to Columbus to take on #24 Ohio State. Rutgers had taken a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime and even led by as many as 16 in the 2nd half. Then the Buckeyes got hot, and the Scarlet Knights’ typically stingy defense fell apart in the final 15 minutes. This game could have been a let down perhaps, as Rutgers had just beaten #11 Illinois on Sunday, a huge win given their lack of success in recent years. They will need to shake off the loss, as they are back at it against another ranked Big Ten team this week when they host #10 Iowa.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Purdue, 1/2, vs #10 Iowa
17. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (4-2) | LW: 16
After a 76-40 victory over William & Mary, the Cavaliers were humiliated on the court when they took on #1 Gonzaga. The usual smothering Virginia defense was absent in this contest. They gave up 98 points and allowed the Zags to shoot over 60% from the field. The one positive that the Cavaliers took away from this game was that the play of Kihei Clark looked to improve slightly. While he committed 6 turnovers, he did manage to post 19 points, a season-high. Clark’s play may be an important factor in the Cavs future success, as he was thought to be the most important player on the floor for Virginia at the season’s start.
THIS WEEK: 12/30 at Notre Dame, 1/2 vs #20 Virginia Tech
18. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (6-2) | LW: 11
The Spartans suffered their second consecutive defeat this past week when they fell to #8 Wisconsin on Friday. Michigan State is now 0-2 in Big Ten play, which is surely not what coach Tom Izzo wanted or expected after his team went 6-0 in non-conference play. One takeaway from these two losses is that Michigan State needs to stop allowing opponents to get to the foul line so easily. The Spartans are giving up over 20 free throw attempts per game. Northwestern managed to get to the line 18 times, and Wisconsin had a whopping 30 free throw attempts in their meeting. The Badgers converted on 23 of those attempts, compared to Michigan State’s 14, which just so happened to be the exact margin of the game’s final score. Michigan State shot 27/57 from the field and 8/11 from three. It is not often that you see Tom Izzo’s team shoot that well at home and not earn a victory. They need to buckle down quickly, as they travel to play a surging Minnesota squad on Monday.
THIS WEEK: 12/28 at #19 Minnesota, 1/2 at Nebraska
19. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (8-1) | LW: N/R
The Gophers got a big win over #8 Iowa this past week. Minnesota is off to a quiet yet solid start. Before adding a top 10 win to their resumé, the Gophers were 7-1 with their only loss being to a ranked Illinois squad. We will get a good look at the Gophers’ mettle over the next 2 weeks, as they are currently playing in one of the most brutal 9-game stretches I have ever seen in college basketball. They started the stretch with games against #11 Illinois, then a 1-loss Saint Louis team, and most recently against #8 Iowa. Their next six games are all against ranked opponents. They go as follows vs #18 Michigan State, at #5 Wisconsin, vs #24 Ohio State, at #15 Michigan, at #10 Iowa, vs #15 Michigan. I do not think I have ever seen such a difficult consecutive 9 game stretch. That is just brutal. It will be very interesting to see where Minnesota stands after that.
THIS WEEK: 12/28 vs #18 Michigan State, 12/31 at #5 Wisconsin, 1/3 vs #24 Ohio State
20. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (7-1) | LW: 20
The Hokies cruised to an easy victory in their only game last week. That was expected, however, as not many people expected Longwood to put up much of a fight. To their credit, they were able to keep it close in the first half, as Virginia Tech went into the locker room with only a 4-point lead. The Hokies would then pull away in the final 20 minutes, eventually winning by a score of 84-58. We will see if the Hokies can keep it up when the competition improves this week when they resume ACC play. These games will be interesting to watch because we should finally be able to get some indication of how big of a threat Virginia Tech is to the rest of the ACC.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Miami, 1/2 at #17 Virginia
21. OREGON DUCKS (6-1) | LW: 25
Oregon wound up being neutral this past week after their game against UCLA on Wednesday was postponed. Though they already have a conference win, this game was supposed to be the beginning of the bulk of their PAC-12 schedule. They will now have to wait until Thursday for that to begin.
THIS WEEK: 12/31 vs California, 1/2 vs Stanford
22. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (6-1) | LW: N/R
The Wildcats have cracked my top 25 for the first time this season after they defeated #24 Ohio State 71-70 on Saturday. Northwestern also has an impressive victory over #4 Michigan State. Northwestern’s impressive play as of late makes their home loss to Pitt kind of a head-scratcher. The Wildcats, like Minnesota, also have a very difficult stretch of games coming up. We will see if they can manage to cling to their top 25 status.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 at #10 Iowa, 1/3 at #15 Michigan
23. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (7-2) | LW: 23
The Red Raiders found themselves in a battle when they traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners last week. There were many instances where it looked as if Texas Tech was about to pull away, but the Sooners would not go away. In the end, Texas Tech would hold them off for a 69-67 victory. Texas Tech will begin a 3-game home stand this week after having 7 days off.
THIS WEEK: 12/29 vs Incarnate Word, 1/2 vs Oklahoma State
24. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (7-2) | LW: 24
A turbulent week for the Buckeyes lands them back in the 24-spot of my rankings. Ohio State’s first game of the week was an impressive 80-68 victory over #12 Rutgers. They followed that up with a trip to Evanston to take on Northwestern. This contest did not go as smoothly. The Buckeyes fell to Northwestern 71-70. Ohio State had two opportunities to win this game in the final 10 seconds. Down by 1 point, Duane Washington Jr missed a layup with 7 seconds left. Ohio State fouled Northwestern after they secured the rebound to send the Wildcats to the line for a 1-and-1. The Wildcats would miss the front end, with E.J. Liddell grabbing the rebound. He would then get off a shot before the buzzer, but it was off the mark. The Buckeyes will look to bounce back this week when they continue Big Ten play.
THIS WEEK: 12/30 vs Nebraska, 1/3 at #19 Minnesota
25. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (5-1) | LW: N/R
The ‘Noles have managed to get back into my top 25, mainly because of teams above them falling. I say this because Florida State’s only game last week was against Gardner-Webb, a team that they should be able to beat easily. They did beat them, just not as easily as they should have. The Seminoles went into the locker room at halftime ahead by only 3 points. They would pull away in the 2nd half to win 72-59. Florida State G Anthony Polite and C Balsa Koprivica led the way for the ‘Noles. Polite had 15 points & 9 rebounds, while Koprivica had 14 points & 8 rebounds. Florida State will begin the bulk of their conference schedule this week.