Yes, this is a college basketball post, but I want to start it off with some of my thoughts from last night’s Super Bowl 51:
- What a football game. That was without question the best football game that I have ever watched live from start to finish, all circumstances considered. We’ll be talking about that game for a very long time.
- For my money, that was the biggest choke job in the history of sports. Yes, that includes Bill Buckner. That includes the Warriors last season. That includes the myriad of blown 3-0 leads in basketball, hockey and baseball. All factors considered, blowing a 25-point 3rd Quarter lead in the Super Bowl, and the way it happened, the 2016-17 Atlanta Falcons will now be known, to me, as the biggest choke artists in sports history.
- Finally, despite the incredible choke job, there is now no doubt in my mind that Bill Belichick is the greatest head coach in NFL history and Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in the history of the league. I was one of the few remaining people that wasn’t ready to crown either of them with those respective honors, but last night sealed it. I always thought Brady’s success was mostly due to Belichick and Belichick’s success was mostly due to Brady, but even if that’s the case, you can’t deny that they are each the best of all time anymore. You just can’t do it.
Alright, football season is over now, time to turn your undivided attention to college basketball, and to start it off, here is this week’s Top-25!
- Northwestern (Prev: 20)
There aren’t many teams that go into Purdue and win. That’s why it’s not that surprising to find out that the Wildcats went in there and got smoked, 80-59. Northwestern will get a chance for revenge when they host the Boilermakers to close the regular season, but in the meantime, they’ll get another chance for a massive road win when they take on Wisconsin this Sunday.
This Week: Tue 2/7 vs Illinois (8:00 pm, BTN); Sun 2/12 @ Wisconsin (6:30 pm, BTN)
- Oklahoma State (Prev: NR)
What a strange season it’s been for the Cowboys. They have now won five straight games after losing six in a row to open Big 12 play. That includes a win at West Virginia on Saturday, a signature victory to add to a resume that was sorely lacking one. Oklahoma State is one of the best offensive teams in the nation, and I hope they’ll get a chance to light up the scoreboard in the Big Dance.
This Week: Wed 2/8 vs Baylor (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/11 vs Texas (4:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Creighton (Prev: 25)
The Bluejays are playing better than I thought they would without point guard Maurice Watson. They got a huge victory at Butler last week before suffering a somewhat disappointing home loss to Xavier on Saturday. The road win against Butler helps to prove why Creighton still has a very good chance to take the Big East title from Villanova.
This Week: Sat 2/11 @ DePaul (2:00 pm, FS1)
- Duke (Prev: 24)
A great road win over Notre Dame followed by a victory over Pitt in Coach K’s return to the sidelines. It was a good week for the Blue Devils. They haven’t had many of those this season. They’ll need all the momentum they can get though, as they host their bitter rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, this Thursday. A win in that game could vault Duke up most rankings.
This Week: Thu 2/9 vs North Carolina (8:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 vs Clemson (1:00 pm, ESPN3)
- South Carolina (Prev: 21)
The Gamecocks continued to roll with wins over LSU and Georgia this past week, and they will need to keep winning games. A road game against Florida a couple weeks is really the only big chance in the regular season for SC to improve their resume. So they’ll definitely need to keep beating the teams that they should beat. I think they will.
This Week: Tue 2/7 vs Alabama (6:30 pm, SECN); Sat 2/11 @ Mississippi State (8:00 pm, ESPN2)
- SMU (Prev: NR)
I kind of overlooked the Mustangs the last couple of weeks, but a two point road loss to AAC-leading Cincinnati is the only loss in the last 17 games for SMU. Sometimes it doesn’t matter as much who you beat, but how many wins you accumulate. The American is not strong this season, but it’s strong enough that a 20-4 team playing in that conference is probably one of the 25 best teams in the nation. They get a chance for revenge when they host Cincy on Sunday.
This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Temple (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sun 2/12 vs Cincinnati (4:00 pm, ESPN)
- Florida (Prev: 23)
The Gators punked Kentucky on Saturday, winning by 22 points, the biggest margin of defeat for the Wildcats under John Calipari. It was an extremely impressive victory, but Florida has to avoid a letdown when they travel to Athens on Tuesday night. The eye test has not been great for Florida so far (other than Saturday), but the advanced analysts love them. We’ll see if they can continue to backup that standing.
This Week: Tue 2/7 @ Georgia (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/11 vs Texas A&M (12:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Saint Mary’s (Prev: 18)
The Gaels are avoiding any slip-ups against the weak West Coast Conference, and they are just one game away from their massive home game with undefeated Gonzaga. They were extremely disappointed at their performance the first time they took on the Zags, so on Saturday night on national TV in primetime, I’ll bet they’ll be more than ready to go.
This Week: Thu 2/9 vs Portland (10:00 pm); Sat 2/11 vs Gonzaga (8:15 pm, ESPN)
- Butler (Prev: 15)
The Bulldogs only had one chance to impress me last week, and they lost at home to Creighton. I wasn’t impressed, but Creighton is a great team, so I gave Butler a pass for the most part. But they have to regroup this week, as they face two tricky road tests against Marquette and Providence. This team is safely in the Tournament for now, but winning both those games will help for sure.
This Week: Tue 2/7 @ Marquette (9:00 pm, CBSSN); Sat 2/11 @ Providence (4:00 pm, CBSSN)
- Virginia (Prev: 13)
Syracuse just doesn’t lose at home in ACC play I guess. I would not have expected a team as good as Virginia to fall to them, but they did. Luckily for the Cavaliers, they get a quick turnaround as they host Top-5 Louisville tonight. I’ll call it right here right now, Virginia will win tonight. Now go prove me right!
This Week: Mon 2/6 vs Louisville (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/12 @ Virginia Tech (6:30 pm, ESPNU)
- Wisconsin (Prev: 17)
It has not been very pretty lately for the Badgers, but they just continue to win games. Indiana gave them a battle yesterday, but they were able to come out on top. Rutgers and Minnesota each took them to overtime recently as well, but in the end, Wisconsin has been on the winning end. Can Nebraska or Northwestern topple them this week? I guess we’ll find out.
This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Nebraska (9:00 pm, BTN); Sun 2/12 vs Northwestern (6:30 pm, BTN)
- West Virginia (Prev: 12)
Is West Virginia the most inconsistent team in college basketball this year? I say yes. They have wins over Virginia, Baylor and Kansas, and losses to Temple, Oklahoma (at home) and Oklahoma State (also at home). This week they get Oklahoma and Kansas State, two teams that knocked them off the first time around. They should be able to get revenge on both, but anything can happen!
This Week: Wed 2/8 @ Oklahoma (9:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/11 vs Kansas State (12:00 pm, ESPN)
- Purdue (Prev: 16)
Purdue already has three losses in Big Ten play, but they had two extremely impressive wins this past week, as they dominated Northwestern and went into Maryland and stole one from the Terrapins. They’ll have a tricky one this week when they head to Assembly Hall to take on the reeling Indiana Hoosiers.
This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Indiana (7:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Cincinnati (Prev: 14)
Don’t look now, but Cincinnati is legit. They are 21-2 and one of those losses is at Butler, which is nothing to hang your head over. Mick Cronin has had a lot of great players over the years, but this might be his best complete team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a long run in the Tournament this season.
This Week: Wed 2/8 vs UCF (9:00 pm, ESPNU); Sun 2/12 @ SMU (4:00 pm, ESPN)
- Kentucky (Prev: 5)
It’s been a rough couple weeks for Kentucky. The home loss to Kansas, surviving in overtime at home against Georgia and then getting embarrassed on Saturday by Florida. Luckily for them, they get a home meeting with LSU this week, and it’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the struggling Wildcats. They’ll be fine, but they need to figure some stuff out, sooner rather than later.
This Week: Tue 2/7 vs LSU (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 @ Alabama (1:00 pm, CBS)
- UCLA (Prev: 11)
The Washington trip was no problem for the Bruins, as they easily disposed of both the Cougars and the Huskies. It was a nice, easy lead-in for their massive home game with Oregon this week. It seems like forever ago that UCLA went to Rupp Arena and knocked off Kentucky. As the Wildcats struggle, that win doesn’t look as great, so they could use a win over a team like Oregon.
This Week: Thu 2/9 vs Oregon (10:00 pm, ESPN); Sun 2/12 vs Oregon State (5:00 pm, FS1)
- Arizona (Prev: 6)
Speaking of Oregon, Arizona can tell UCLA how difficult they are to beat. The Ducks wiped the floor with the Wildcats on Saturday, 85-58. It’s no need for fans to panic, as that snapped a 15-game winning streak for Arizona, so they are going to be just fine. They’ll host Cal and Stanford this week, and should beat both to get right back on track.
This Week: Wed 2/8 vs Stanford (11:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/11 vs California (10:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Baylor (Prev: 4)
It was a tough week for the Bears. They played great at Kansas, but just couldn’t finish off the victory. Unfortunately for them, they suffered a brutal hangover, losing at home to Kansas State on Saturday. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for them either, as they head to Stillwater on Wednesday to take on the red-hot Oklahoma State Cowboys. They could really use a win in that game.
This Week: Wed 2/8 @ Oklahoma State (7:00 pm, ESPNU); Sat 2/11 vs TCU (2:00 pm, ESPNU)
- Oregon (Prev: 10)
After surviving the Arizona State upset attempt, the Ducks shot the lights out en route to a dominating victory over Arizona. They’ll look for back-to-back massive victories on Thursday night when they travel to LA to take on the Bruins. A win at UCLA could propel Oregon towards the top line of the bracket for a lot of experts.
This Week: Thu 2/9 @ UCLA (10:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 @ USC (10:30 pm, P12N)
- North Carolina (Prev: 9)
The Tar Heels are one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won nine of their last ten, including wins this past week over Pitt and Notre Dame. UNC has a claim for being the best team in the ACC, and they can improve that claim with a win over hated rivals Duke this Thursday night. Most of America will be tuning in, and the Tar Heels can make a huge impression if they play well.
This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Duke (8:00 pm, ESPN)
- Florida State (Prev: 8)
I told you all last week that Florida State would be fine, and they proved me right with a road win against Miami and a dominating performance yesterday against Clemson, winning 109-61. They’ll have another big road game next weekend when they head to South Bend to take on the struggling Fighting Irish. ND will be desperate for a big win, so the Seminoles will have to be at their best.
This Week: Wed 2/8 vs NC State (7:00 pm, ESPN2); Sat 2/11 @ Notre Dame (6:00 pm, ESPN)
- Louisville (Prev: 7)
The Cardinals are the best team in the ACC right now in my opinion, but this week will put them to the test. They head to Virginia tonight, and key pieces Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel were suspended for the game for missing curfew. After that game, they’ll return home Saturday to take on a solid Miami team that could use a signature win. This team could be even higher in my rankings next week, or they could be a whole lot lower.
This Week: Mon 2/6 @ Virginia (7:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 vs Miami FL (2:00 pm, ESPN2)
- Kansas (Prev: 2)
Well, the Jayhawks survived the tough test from Baylor, but on Saturday, their 54-game home winning streak was snapped in overtime by the Iowa State Cyclones. It was a classic letdown game, but I thought Kansas would be good enough to avoid that. They have no time to feel bad about it though, with a road game against rival Kansas State on tap tonight. The Wildcats were screwed in their first meeting against Kansas, so they’ll be hungry for revenge.
This Week: Mon 2/6 @ Kansas State (9:00 pm, ESPN); Sat 2/11 @ Texas Tech (2:00 pm, ESPN)
- Villanova (Prev: 3)
Nova took care of business this past week with wins at Providence and at home against St. John’s. A pretty ho-hum week for the defending National Champs. It’ll be a little tougher for them this week as they host Georgetown Tuesday, then head to Xavier on Saturday, the first of three straight road games for the Cats. They have a claim to the top spot for sure, and I can’t remember the last time a team had this good a chance to repeat as National Champions.
This Week: Tue 2/7 vs Georgetown (7:00 pm, FS1); Sat 2/11 @ Xavier (2:30 pm, FOX)
- Gonzaga (Prev: 1)
The only undefeated team remaining also remains on the top of my rankings, but that could very easily change come next week. Some thought BYU could give the Zags some problems on Thursday night, but the Bulldogs easily handled their business. The biggest game left on their schedule comes up this Saturday when they travel to take on Saint Mary’s. If they get past the Gaels, there’s no reason they can’t finish the regular season undefeated.
This Week: Thu 2/9 @ Loyola Marymount (10:00 pm); Sat 2/11 @ Saint Mary’s (8:15 pm, ESPN)