College Basketball Power Rankings Update: Jayhawks Flying High
The Kansas Jayhawks are building one strong resume for the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. They recently clinched their 13th straight Big 12 regular season title, which is not an easy feat in the second-toughest conference in the country -- the Big 12 boasts 4 teams in the AP Top 25 and 5 in our top 20.
Currently the top team in the nation, they also boast one of the most dynamic freshmen, Josh Jackson, to go along with perhaps the best backcourt in the country. DeVante Graham and Naismith Award candidate Frank Mason both own an offensive rating over 120.0 while they shoot a combined 43% on11.0 three-point attempts per game. Mason is the key to the Jayhawks' offense -- 20.3 points and 4.9 assists per game -- and their national title hopes.
This week, we will take a closer look at Kansas and four other programs making noise -- good or bad -- in college basketball.
You will find that our rankings can sometimes be much different from the AP Top 25 or the USA Today Coaches Poll. Our power rankings here at numberFire are not subjective or influenced by the latest hype; we put our faith and trust in our algorithms. Each week, we’ll list the top 25 teams in Division I from worst to best based on our nERD metric, a predictive measure that projects the number of points we would expect that squad to win by against a league-average team.
25. Saint Mary's Gaels (nERD: 14.13, Record: 26-3, Last Week: NR)
24. Wisconsin Badgers (nERD: 14.41, Record: 22-7, Last Week: 17)
Through the first 24 games, the Wisconsin Badgers looked to be the class of the Big 10. They were 21-3, had a top-15 defense, and ranked 7th in the nation. Despite the strong resume, the warning signs were there. They didn't have any top-25 wins in non-conference play and needed overtime to beat both Rutgers and Nebraska; two teams that have combined for a 25-32 record.
Over their last five games, the Badgers have gone 1-4 and lost their stranglehold on first place in the conference. Their once stout defense has faltered, allowing an average of 83.5 points per game to Ohio State and Michigan State -- two offenses ranked outside of the top 50 in terms of offensive rating.
The result is the Badgers are hanging on by a thread in the AP top 25 (ranked 22) and have fallen from a projected 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament down to the 6 seed. With two games remaining in the regular season, Wisconsin doesn't have much time to get back on track.
23. Creighton Bluejays (nERD: 14.54, Record: 23-7, Last Week: 18)
22. Cincinnati Bearcats (nERD: 14.56, Record: 25-4, Last Week: 21)
21. Arizona Wildcats (nERD: 14.62, Record: 26-4, Last Week: 22)
20. Iowa State Cyclones (nERD: 14.69, Record: 20-9, Last Week: 24)
19. Southern Methodist Mustangs (nERD: 14.87, Record: 25-4, Last Week: 20)
18. Butler Bulldogs (nERD: 15.34, Record: 23-6, Last Week: 23)
After a brief stumble at the end of January where they lost three of four, the Butler Bulldogs have gotten back on track by winning their last four games. They romped past St. John's and DePaul by and an average of 20.0 points as they prepared for their toughest game of the season.
In their second meeting with defending national champion Villanova, the Bulldogs used an 18-0 run in the second half to once again get the best of the country's second-ranked team. They are now 6-2 against top-25 ranked opponents, including 2-0 versus 'Nova.
Coach Chris Holtmann's decision to move Kelan Martin from the starting lineup to be the team's sixth man had not only paid dividends for the Bulldogs, but also for Martin. In his last four games off the bench, Butler's leading scorer is averaging 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds with a 69.1 true shooting percentage while playing just 26.5 minutes as a much-needed spark off the bench.
17. Oklahoma State Cowboys (nERD: 15.46, Record: 20-10, Last Week: 19)
16. Florida State Seminoles (nERD: 15.79, Record: 23-7, Last Week: 16)
15. Oregon Ducks (nERD: 16.19, Record: 26-4, Last Week: 14)
14. Duke Blue Devils (nERD: 16.56, Record: 23-7, Last Week: 10)
13. Wichita State Shockers (nERD: 16.88, Record: 27-4, Last Week: 15)
The Wichita State Shockers just concluded their regular season on a 12-game winning streak. Over the past six weeks, they have obliterated the competition, winning by an average of 23.1 points, including two by over 40 points. That included a thrashing of their closest competition in the Missouri Valley Conference -- and likely big dance participant -- Illinois State by 41.
Their recent success has moved them into the AP Top 25 for the first time this season. The Shockers are bordering on the top 10 in our power rankings due to owning a top-five offense and defense, regarding efficiency. While they should consider themselves firmly off the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, their soft schedule and poor results against top competition -- 1-4 against top-50 programs -- have caused debate of their projected seeding.
12. Purdue Boilermakers (nERD: 16.89, Record: 24-6, Last Week: 9)
11. Baylor Bears (nERD: 16.90, Record: 24-6, Last Week: 11)
10. UCLA Bruins (nERD: 17.03, Record: 26-3, Last Week: 13)
9. Virginia Cavaliers (nERD: 17.49, Record: 20-9, Last Week: 12)
8. Kansas Jayhawks (nERD: 18.59, Record: 27-3, Last Week: 8)
The nation's newly appointed number-one team in the country by the AP Top 25 poll, the Kansas Jayhawks haven't exactly been crushing opponents lately.
During their current seven-game winning streak, they have come death-defyingly close to being defeated on multiple occasions. They needed a miraculous rally to overcome a 14-point deficit to beat West Virginia in overtime. Their next time out, they came back from six down in the final minutes to top Baylor by two. Kansas' sluggish play over the first 30 minutes hasn't been relegated to just top-tier competition either.
In their latest win on Monday, versus the 10-18 Oklahoma Sooners, the Jayhawks found themselves down by 12 with 10 minutes to go before outscoring their Big 12 rivals 31-9 to win their seventh game in a row.
Kansas has a tough matchup waiting for them in their regular season finale with a road trip to Stillwater to face our 17th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.
7. Louisville Cardinals (nERD: 18.95, Record: 23-6, Last Week: 7)
6. West Virginia Mountaineers (nERD: 19.11, Record: 23-7, Last Week: 4)
5. Florida Gators (nERD: 19.25, Record: 23-6, Last Week: 6)
4. Villanova Wildcats (nERD: 19.50, Record: 27-3, Last Week: 3)
3. North Carolina Tar Heels (nERD: 19.53, Record: 25-6, Last Week: 4)
2. Kentucky Wildcats (nERD: 19.71, Record: 25-5, Last Week: 2)
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (nERD: 20.42, Record: 29-1, Last Week: 1)
It has finally come to an end. The nation's longest winning streak -- 29 games -- that left the Gonzaga Bulldogs as the lone undefeated team in college basketball was brought to a screeching halt on Saturday as the BYU Cougars knocked off the Zags 79-71.
The loss knocked the Bulldogs down from one to four in the polls, but didn't affect their potential place as a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With their regular season over, the Bulldogs can not afford another loss if they want to hold onto one of those top seeds. Only BYU and Saint Mary's represent a real roadblock on their way to their fifth straight West Coast Conference tournament title.