Rankings are an easy way to see how teams stack up, and each Thursday, I will post what I think are the Top-25 teams in the country. Any statistics included are courtesy of kenpom.com, which looks at college basketball teams using advanced analytics. This ranking is based on my opinion, and I am open to debate. If you have any comments, please leave them on this post. Without further ado, here are my current Top-25 teams!
*Featured photo courtesy of National Sun Times*
25. Michigan (12-3, 2-0)
The Wolverines are among the best offensive teams in the country, led by SG Caris LeVert (17.6 PPG, 45% 3PT). Michigan has wins over Texas and NC State, but will be tested over the next few weeks, with their next three games against teams in KenPom’s Top-15.
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/7 @ Purdue; Tue 1/12 vs Maryland
24. Texas A&M (12-2, 2-0)
Texas A&M had lofty expectations last year, and just never really lived up to them. Led by G/F Danuel House, PG Alex Caruso and F Jalen Jones, the Aggies look like they are on their way to competing for an SEC title.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Tennessee; Tue 1/12 vs Florida
23. LSU (9-5, 2-0)
The resume isn’t there yet, but this team is way too talented to not figure it out. They showed glimpses of greatness in their win Tuesday over Kentucky, with G/F Tim Quarterman flirting with a triple-double, and Super-Frosh Ben Simmons dominating the game down the stretch. LSU has some bad losses (Coll. of Charleston, Houston), but they are a force to be reckoned with in the SEC.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Florida; Wed 1/13 vs Ole Miss
22. West Virginia (13-1, 2-0)
The Mountaineers lone loss this season came on a neutral floor to KenPom’s #5 ranked Virginia, but their best win so far is a 2OT win over Kansas State. They lead the country in Offensive Rebound %, which will help come tournament time, but they struggle with 3PT shooting and FT shooting, which could hurt them in the postseason.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 vs Oklahoma St; Tue 1/12 vs Kansas
21. Butler (12-3, 1-2)
Having to face Providence and Xavier to open up their Big East schedule was a little difficult for the Bulldogs, but they got their first Big East win over DePaul on Tuesday to get back on track. KenPom has Butler 7th in the country in offensive efficiency, and they are talented enough to beat anyone.
Upcoming Games: Sun 1/10 vs Villanova
20. Pittsburgh (13-1, 2-0)
Pitt has faced one team ranked in KenPom’s Top-50 this season, and that was a home loss to Purdue. They are 9th in the country in offensive efficiency, led by PF Michael Young (16.9 PPG) and F Jamel Artis (15.8 PPG), and we will find out this coming week if they are for real.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Notre Dame
19. Kentucky (11-3, 1-1)
This Kentucky team has all the talent in the world, but they lack chemistry, and that is going to hurt them big time this year. Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress struggle with fouls, and they lack the 3PT shooting threat that they normally have. That being said, they have time to figure it out, and they are still dangerous.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Alabama; Tue 1/12 vs Mississippi State
18. South Carolina (14-0, 1-0)
Frank Martin has proven again why he is one of the best coaches in the country. His Gamecocks are one of two undefeated teams remaining, fueled by an efficient defense (13th on KenPom) and the ability to get to the free throw line at a rate better than any other team.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 vs Vanderbilt; Wed 1/13 @ Alabama
17. Duke (13-2, 2-0)
This just has the feel of a Duke team that will be eliminated early in the tournament. KenPom has them rated #1 in offensive efficiency, led by Player of the Year candidates Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram. But they have struggled against bigger teams, losing to Kentucky and Utah. If they run into a team that can dominate the paint, they could be in trouble.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 vs Virginia Tech; Wed 1/13 @ Clemson
16. Purdue (13-2, 1-1)
This is a team that could give Duke problems. KenPom rates Purdue as the most efficient defense in the country, led by big men A.J. Hammons (8.0 RPG, 2.7 BPG), Isaac Haas (11.4 PPG) and Caleb Swanigan (8.9 RPG). This team will contend for a Big Ten title and be a threat in March.
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/7 vs Michigan; Sun 1/10 @ Illinois; Wed 1/13 vs Penn State
15. Iowa (12-3, 3-0)
The Hawkeyes are one of the hottest teams in the country right now, with back-to-back wins over Michigan State and Purdue. They are led by Player of the Year candidate F Jarred Uthoff (18.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.3 BPG). This is a solid team across the board that will cause problems for the top of the Big Ten Conference.
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/14 @ Michigan State
14. Providence (14-2, 2-1)
PG Kris Dunn is one of the best players in the country, and paired up with F Ben Bentil, the Friars are a team with a legitimate chance to win a national championship. They already hold wins over Butler and Arizona, and while the Big East will take its toll on every team in it, the Friars have a chance to come out on top.
Upcoming Games: Tue 1/12 @ Creighton
13. Louisville (12-2, 1-0)
The Louisville basketball program has had its fair share of controversy this season, with the escort scandal in the preseason, to Coach Rick Pitino’s alleged inappropriate gesture toward the crowd following the Kentucky game. Hidden in all of that is a team rated in KenPom’s Top-20 in offensive and defensive efficiency, led by Drexel transfer Damion Lee (17.6 PPG, 89.6% FT).
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/7 @ NC State; Sun 1/10 @ Clemson
12. SMU (13-0, 2-0)
Larry Brown is a terrific basketball coach. He’s had success at both levels, and this SMU team is one of his greatest accomplishments. Led by PG Nic Moore and Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy, the Mustangs are the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference, with KenPom’s 3rd most efficient offense.
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/7 vs Cincinnati; Sun 1/10 vs UCF; Wed 1/13 @ ECU
11. Miami (FL) (12-1, 1-0)
Jim Larranaga took a George Mason team with a bunch of unknown players to the Final Four, and now, at the helm of a Miami team with stars like PG Angel Rodriguez, G Sheldon McClellan and C Tonye Jekiri, he once again has a team capable of not only competing for an ACC Championship, but a team that can get him back to the Final Four in 2016.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 vs Florida State; Tue 1/12 @ Virginia
10. Xavier (14-1, 2-1)
Xavier was on an absolute tear through non-conference play, but were dealt a huge blow in their Big East opener, losing to Villanova by 31, and in the process, losing star Freshman PG Edmond Sumner to injury. The Musketeers were able to defeat Butler and St. John’s without him, but it remains to be seen if this is still a top team without Sumner.
Upcoming Games: Tue 1/12 vs DePaul
9. Iowa State (12-2, 1-1)
The Cyclones are one of the most athletic teams in the country, led by PG Monte Morris, F Jameel McKay and F Georges Niang, who is in his 19th year of eligibility (kidding of course, but he has been there a long time). After suffering a disappointing upset loss to UAB in Round 1 of the tournament last year, Iowa State looks motivated to make a deep run in 2016.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 vs Baylor; Tue 1/12 @ Texas
8. Villanova (13-2, 3-0)
The Wildcats are, in my opinion, the most underrated team in the country. Jay Wright has another guard-heavy team, but the best player on this team might be C Daniel Ochefu. He can dominate a game whenever he wants to, and he could be the key to Nova making a deep run in the tourney.
Upcoming Games: Sun 1/10 @ Butler; Wed 1/13 vs Marquette
7. Virginia (12-2, 1-1)
This team is coming off a brutal loss to rival Virginia Tech, but before that game, this looked like one of the best teams in the country, and I have them ranked accordingly. They don’t miss open shots, and they always have a great defense. This is a title contender once again, as Mike Bennett continues to do a great job in Charlottesville.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Georgia Tech; Tue 1/12 vs Miami (FL)
6. Arizona (13-1, 1-0)
Arizona has been one of the quietest good teams in recent memory. They are 13-1, and barely a peep has been made about them. Seniors F Ryan Anderson (15.1 PPG, 10.8 RPG) and G Gabe York (13.7 PPG, 43.6% 3PT) have done a nice job leading this team without star C Kaleb Tarczewski for much of this season.
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/7 @ UCLA; Sat 1/9 @ USC
5. Maryland (14-1, 3-0)
PG Melo Trimble is the player that gets all the glory for the Terrapins, but Freshman C Diamond Stone is possibly the best player on this team, which looks to challenge Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa for the Big Ten crown. KenPom rates Stone as one of the best offensive rebounders in the country, and the team is rated 4th in 2-pt FG%, thanks in most part to Stone’s efforts underneath the basket.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Wisconsin; Tue 1/12 @ Michigan
4. North Carolina (14-2, 3-0)
The Tar Heels have one of the best wins this season, an 8-point home triumph over Maryland, and with a healthy Marcus Paige, this is easily one of the best teams in the country. Brice Johnson exploded for 39 points and 23 rebounds against Florida State, and Justin Jackson is one of the best all-around players in the country. When Kennedy Meeks returns, this team could be the best in the nation.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Syracuse
3. Oklahoma (12-1, 1-1)
Oklahoma’s 3OT loss to Kansas on Monday will probably end up being the best game we’ll see this season. It was a showcase for star G Buddy Hield, who erupted for 46 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, shooting 8-13 from 3PT range. Hield is probably the leading candidate for Player of the Year, but the Sooners will need to do more around him if they want to win a national championship this season.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 vs Kansas State; Wed 1/13 @ Oklahoma State
2. Michigan State (14-1, 1-1)
It was expected that Michigan State would be a top team once again this year, but a drop-off seemed likely. That was because nobody could see the emergence of G Denzel Valentine as one of the best players in the country. The Spartans fell to Iowa with Valentine on the shelf, but that is their lone blemish thus far. Without Valentine, MSU is a great team. With Valentine, they are elite.
Upcoming Games: Thu 1/7 vs Illinois; Sun 1/10 @ Penn State
1. Kansas (13-1, 2-0)
The Jayhawks only loss this season is to Michigan State, and with a win over Oklahoma, Kansas is the top team in the country right now. Perry Ellis, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Devonte Graham, Cheick Diallo, Brannen Greene, Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas, Hunter Mickelson. Kansas has an impressive roster, maybe the deepest in the country, and that will help lead them to a potential title.
Upcoming Games: Sat 1/9 @ Texas Tech; Tue 1/12 @ West Virginia
And with that, Bracketball’s first post is complete! I hope you enjoy this, and all of the other content that I will be posting in the coming months! Tomorrow you can look forward to a preview of this weekend’s slate of games.