College Hoops Top 25 Stock Watch: Iowa, Texas A&M Surge Into the Top 5
Kansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, SMU, Villanova, West Virginia, and Xavier are the latest teams to experience the peril to be found at the very top of this year's rankings.
Each of those teams, seven of the top eight in last week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, dropped games to conference opponents. Oklahoma edged out North Carolina to retain their spot atop the rankings, but the latest shake-up in a season marked by parity and unpredictability opened the door for three teams to rise quickly inside the top 10.
Here's a look at some of the notable climbers and tumblers in this week's edition of the College Hoops Top 25 Stock Watch.
Current Rank: 3rd
Last Week: 9th
Two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes were ranked 16th in the country and overshadowed by the likes of Michigan State and Maryland inside their own conference. Fourteen days later, everyone should be paying attention to Iowa, winners of nine straight, including a 7-0 start in the Big Ten. Iowa capped off their week with a regular-season sweep of Purdue, adding to a resume that already includes two wins over Michigan State and a neutral court win against Wichita State. Fran McCaffery has Iowa up to their highest AP ranking since 1987, but the team will face a tough test to maintain that lofty status with a trip to Maryland on Thursday.
Current Rank: 10th
Last Week: 16th
Providence accomplished something on Sunday that no Big East team had in over a year: a win over Villanova. Ed Cooley's Friars took out Villanova in an overtime thriller in Philly, picking up one of the week's biggest resume-boosting wins. Despite the newfound top-10 status, Providence sits at just 47th in our nERD power rankings and projects as a 6 seed in our Bracketology. The Friars have already lost twice on their home floor in Big East play, which makes Tuesday's home date with seventh-ranked Xavier particularly critical to improving their prospective tournament seeding.
Current Rank: 5th
Last Week: 10th
Billy Kennedy's Aggies have rattled off 10 consecutive wins and look like the team to beat in the SEC with six weeks remaining in the regular season. With KenPom's sixth-ranked defense, a two-game advantage in the conference standings, and their only matchup against Kentucky this season at home, it's hard to imagine Texas A&M not finishing on top of the SEC. With the SEC ranked just sixth in conference RPI, however, the Aggies' lone-remaining non-conference game, against Iowa State Saturday in College Station, should be a terrific litmus test for their NCAA Tournament potential.
Current Rank: 23th
Last Week: NR
Oregon's 16-4 start and lead in the Pac 12 standings (shared with Washington) helped the Ducks break back into the Top 25 this week, an honor that was a bit overdue. The Ducks are inside the top 10 in RPI and strength of schedule and have beaten Baylor, Valparaiso, USC, and California. Oregon's trip to Arizona on Thursday night could very well decide the regular season champion of the Pac 12.
Current Rank: NR
Last Week: 18th
Butler lost two road games this week to teams inside the top 50 of our power rankings, which normally would not be enough to cause a team drop from 18th to unranked. But the losses inside the Big East have mounted for Butler, who now sits at 2-5 in conference play. The Bulldogs have already been swept by Providence, and their only two wins in the Big East have come against DePaul and St. John's. The Bulldogs are down to a 10 seed in our latest Bracketology, but they'll have a good chance to regroup against the likes of DePaul, Marquette, and St. John's over the next couple of weeks before their next go-around with the Big East's upper tier.
Current Rank: 13th
Last Week: 8th
There are no more undefeated teams in Division I men's basketball after SMU's Sunday afternoon loss to Temple. The Owls hit 14 threes en route to hanging 89 points on SMU, 15 more than any other team had this season. The loss ended SMU's 18-game winning streak, which included seven straight against conference opponents. Though ineligible for postseason play this year, Larry Brown's Mustangs could have a lot to say about the tournament chances of UConn, Cincinnati, and Gonzaga before the regular season comes to an end.
Current Rank: 18th
Last Week: 12th
Arizona's one-point loss at Cal on Saturday was no reason for Sean Miller's squad to hang their head, but the defeat seems to have shed some light on Arizona's relatively weak resume. The Wildcats' only win over a team in the top 50 of our power rankings was in non-conference play at Gonzaga, a team that finds itself squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Thursday's aforementioned game against Oregon, the only time the two teams will meet this season, will likely be the best resume booster left on the Wildcats' regular-season schedule.
Current Rank: NR
Last Week: 21st
USC cracked the rankings after starting their Pac 12 slate at 4-1, but losses at Oregon and Oregon State have bounced the Trojans from the Top 25. We've still got Southern Cal at 17th in RPI, 22nd in strength of schedule, and 26th in nERD, good for a 5 seed in our latest Bracketology. With three straight home games coming up, USC's stay outside the top 25 could be short-lived.