The first full week of the college basketball season is in the books. And while we’ll know more about all of these teams once the Thanksgiving tournaments conclude, there have already been interesting developments.
But before we get into all of that, a look at the full rankings:
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There was some shuffling in the top five, which was expected after the Champions Classic. No. 2 Arizona jumped a spot, as did No. 3 Kansas, while Michigan State fell to No. 4 after its loss to Duke.
The truth is, there was never much separation between these teams to begin with. So even if Michigan State’s loss wasn’t a bad loss… Arizona and Kansas haven’t lost, so here we are. That may be frustrating if you’re a Spartans fan, but think of it this way: after watching that Duke game, are you any less confident in Michigan State than you were previously?
At the point, the answer to that question should be no. Michigan State had every opportunity to beat the No. 1 team down the stretch. Grayson Allen had a career night. It happens. If the Spartans play well in Oregon this week, they could be the No. 1 team in seven days. Nothing to get in a tizzy about.
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Kentucky fell to No. 8 after losing to Kansas, but the Wildcats may have played their best game of the season against the Jayhawks. Kentucky is so young – even by its standards – so some early-season struggles were expected. Outside of inexperience, a lack of an offensive pecking order was a reason for concern coming into the year.
But Kevin Knox looked like a true No. 1 guy against Kansas, going for 20 points and seven rebounds. Knox can force the issue at times, but at 6-9, 215 pounds with a smooth stroke, he’s got all of the tools to be a primary option. That jumper is the key for Knox, and Kentucky: he’s shooting 43 percent from 3 for a team that desperately needs floor-spacing. Wins and losses aside, it’s just important to see who can play in these early games. Knox showed he’s a player. Expect John Calipari to give him even more offensive opportunities.There wasn’t much noise in the middle of the poll, which is surprising for one team: No. 15 Xavier. The Musketeers handled Wisconsin in Madison on Thursday night; the Kohl Center is one of the toughest places to win in America. Sure, teams like Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Minnesota (who sit above Xavier) didn’t do anything to deserve to drop, but that’s a heck of a win for a team that made last year’s Elite Eight and returns most of its key pieces. Trevon Bluiett is a legitimate Naismith candidate. J.P. Macura isn’t just a menace; he’s a menace who can ball, and he’s the perfect Bluiett sidekick. Again, it’s early. These rankings don’t mean much in November. But it feels like Xavier should be higher than 15th.
One new team joined this week’s poll: No. 25 Alabama. The Crimson Tide are 3-0, and with Collin Sexton back in the fold, Avery Johnson looks like he could make his first NCAA tournament appearance with Alabama. Sexton is averaging 23.5 points and five assists in two games, and the Crimson Tide surround him with plenty of talent. Don’t be surprised if this team continues to climb in the poll as the year rolls on.
These rankings are bound to look a whole lot different in seven days. Sit back, relax, and enjoy one of the most entertaining weeks on the college hoops calendar.