During Selection Week in March, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee will select the best 36 at-large teams to join the 32 automatic qualifiers to play in the Division I men’s basketball championship. Each week of the season, Andy Katz will rank his best 36 teams based on results to date. These rankings are his own and are in no way affiliated with the committee.
Here's where we stand after the first week of the season:
1. Duke: A dominating win over Kentucky to open the season made it clear the Blue Devils are a title favorite. The win over Army Sunday was closer than anyone projected. But these are still freshmen and they are mortal!
2. Kansas: The Jayhawks got off to a furious start against Michigan State before holding off the Spartans late.
3. Gonzaga: The Zags may not have played comparable competition but still looked dominant without Killian Tillie. Having Brandon Clarke score 19 and grab 13 boards against Texas Southern is huge for the Zags. Rui Hachimura opened the season with 33 against Idaho State.
4. Virginia: The Cavaliers held Towson to just 42 points, proving that they will once again be one of the toughest defensive teams in the country. Ty Jerome got his offensive game clicking even more Sunday with 20 for the Cavs in the win over George Washington.
5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels went on the road to start the season with two wins at Wofford and Elon. Give Roy Williams credit for taking chances.
6. Auburn: The Tigers had a convincing 22-point win at home over Washington, one of the Pac-12 title contenders. Impressive.
7. Tennessee: The Vols — last season’s co-SEC champ with Auburn — put up over 80 points in both of their first two wins.
8. Michigan State: The Spartans were clearly off in the first half against Kansas, but outscored the Jayhawks 51-42 in the second half. MSU will be just fine. And it showed in a bounce back Sunday win over Florida Gulf Coast as Nick Ward put up 26 and 10.
Nick Ward dominated in the paint 💪— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 12, 2018
The junior tied a career-high with 25pts! pic.twitter.com/DHS5xiSrjL
9. Nevada: The Wolf Pack started out strong with a home win over BYU and then took out Pacific, winning the games they should in Reno.
10. Syracuse: The Orange destroyed Eastern Washington in the opener, giving up just 34 points. Not bad at all. Stud Tyus Battle scored 23 against Morehead State in the second win of the season.
11. Florida State: The Seminoles had as impressive an opening win as any other team with a 21-point thrashing of the rival Gators. The Seminoles followed that up with a solid 11-point road win at Tulane Sunday.
12. Villanova: The Wildcats were led by the two players who should take the lead role all season as Eric Paschall and Phil Booth put up 26 and 17 respectively in a 100-point opening-night effort. Booth added 23 in the Saturday win over Quinnipiac.
13. Kentucky: The Wildcats drop from my No. 1 spot after getting destroyed by Duke and then having to hold on to beat Southern Illinois. I’m still convinced the Wildcats will contend for the title, but they’re not ready yet.
14. Kansas State: Dean Wade is back and so are the Wildcats as a Big 12 contender.
15. Nebraska: The Huskers didn’t open up with a strong opponent in Mississippi Valley State but the beat down was stunning at 106-37. Then came an 87-35 win over SE Louisiana on Sunday for an opening-weekend encore. That’s exactly what the Huskers had to do.
16. Buffalo: The Bulls had one of the most important wins of the season by taking out West Virginia in overtime. If Buffalo doesn’t win the MAC but continues to win like this in the non-conference, then don’t be shocked if the MAC finally gets multiple bids for the first time since 1999.
17. Indiana: The Hoosiers showed they’ve got the offense with Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan leading them. But more importantly they defended, holding Montana State to just 35 points.
18. UCLA: The Bruins got off to a hot start at home with the offense's numbers clicking at a high clip by scoring over 90 points in each game.
19. Purdue: My preseason player of the candidate Carsen Edwards opened the season with a 30-point standout show in a win over Fairfield. He followed that up with 23 in the win over Ball State.
20. Michigan: The Wolverines will end up being in the thick of the Big Ten title race. Holding an opponent to 44 points (Norfolk State) is another example why. In Michigan's second game, Holy Cross only scored 37.
21. Oregon: The Ducks went 2-0 to start the season at home but it didn’t take long before Bol Bol made his mark, scoring 23 points and 12 boards against Eastern Washington. He grabbed a dozen board in the opener against Portland State, too.
22. Ohio State: I had the Buckeyes finishing in the bottom tier in the Big Ten. Well, Ohio State made sure it won’t be irrelevant with a season-opening road win at Cincinnati. The Buckeyes were in control the whole game, sending a statement to everyone in the Big Ten. Oh, and then they put up 107 points in a second win against Fort Wayne.
23. Iowa State: The Cyclones got off to a strong start, including beating Missouri — without Lindell Wigginton.
24. Clemson: The competition is soft to open the season, but don’t let that change the way you view the Tigers — they are a NCAA team out of the ACC.
25. Marquette: The Golden Eagles are my pick to finish second in the Big East, and holding UMBC to only 42 points is a strong indicator that Marquette will defend this season. Markus Howard put up 37 in the second game against Bethune-Cookman. Not too shabby.
26. Wichita State: The Shockers were picked in the lower grouping in the American because they lost so, so much. The season-opening loss to Louisiana Tech was a sign that it could be a rebuilding season. Not so fast. The Shockers, led by Markis McDuffie’s 32, beat Providence in Annapolis.
27. Texas: The Longhorns held off Arkansas in the Armed Forces Classic. Kerwin Roach II is averaging 18 points a game. But the best part of the Longhorns season so far is that Andrew Jones, who was out last season while battling Leukemia, played nine minutes and scored a point in the opener.
28. West Virginia: The Mountaineers did lose at home to Buffalo in overtime, but I don’t want that to be seen as a bad loss. Sure, it drops the Mountaineers in the rankings, but Buffalo is a high-level team this season.
29. Wisconsin: Ethan Happ opened the season with a triple-double with 10 points, 12 assists and 11 boards. The Badgers are relatively healthy and should be back in the Big Ten mix.
30. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are still a few weeks away from major challenges. So, that means they have to take care of the guarantee games — and they did in the first two games to go to 2-0.
31. Minnesota: The Gophers aren’t 100 percent healthy yet with Eric Curry out but got quite an opening performance from Daniel Oturu with 14 and eight.
32. LSU: The Tigers scored more than 90 points in each of their first two games. Naz Reid was the leading scorer in both. That’s all good news for LSU.
33. Butler: The Bulldogs opened the season Saturday with a win over Miami of Ohio. Butler will be a Big East title contender and Kamar Baldwin (21 points against the RedHawks) a Big East player of the year candidate.
1-0!— Butler Basketball (@ButlerMBB) November 11, 2018
Highlights from the Bulldogs' 90-68 win over Miami (Ohio) Saturday night. pic.twitter.com/kYLplTXOwC
34. Virginia Tech: The Hokies don’t have suspended Chris Clarke playing, but do have plenty of scorers as five were in double figures in the opener.
35. TCU: The Horned Frogs had to come back in the second half to beat Bakersfield after being down by nine. Desmond Bane gave them 13 of 14 in the second half to save TCU, which was without Jaylen Fisher and Kouat Noi. Taking out Oral Roberts is the kind of win they have to have even with limited numbers as both players missed Sunday’s game as well.
36. Houston: The top of the AAC will have a rotation of teams. UCF took a hit with a home loss to Florida Atlantic and Cincinnati lost at home to Ohio State. The Cougars played a weaker opponent in Alabama A&M but cruised to a 101-54 win behind Armoni Brooks’ six 3s for 24 points.
The first Monday of the college basketball season means the return of Andy Katz's weekly honors. Here's who stood out in the first week:
Team of the Week
Duke: The Blue Devils stunned Kentucky with a 118-84 win on opening night at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. This was a serious beat down and immediately put the rest of the nation on notice. Duke then dispatched Army Sunday after being pushed for much of the first half.
Player of the week
C.J. Massinburg, Buffalo: Massinburg proved the Bulls’ upset win over Arizona in the NCAA tournament was no fluke. He was sensational with a 43-point, 14-rebound performance in a 99-94 overtime win at West Virginia, which could go down as one of the most important true road wins of the season.
CJ Massinburg with ice in his veins to send us to OT in Morgantown! ❄️pic.twitter.com/rPYTAU5Lf9— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 10, 2018
The backup five
R.J. Barrett, Fr, Duke: Scored 33 in the win over Kentucky, 23 against Army.
Zion Williamson, Fr., Duke: Scored 28 in the win over Kentucky, 27 against Army.
Cam Reddish, Fr., Duke: Scored 22 in the win over Kentucky, 25 against Army.
Naz Reid, Fr., LSU: Scored 29 and grabbed 7 boards in the win over UNCG and 17 early in the week against SE Louisiana.
Jordan Roland, Jr., Northeastern: Scored 35 (7 of 10 3s) in a road win at Harvard after the GW transfer opened the season with just seven in a three-point loss to BU.
Most important win
Iowa State over Missouri: The Cyclones beat Mizzou 76-59 without their injured star guard Lindell Wigginton. Iowa State was led by Virginia transfer Marial Shayok’s 20 points. The Cyclones are a legit Big 12 top four contender and winning this game without Wigginton shows Steve Prohm’s team has depth it lacked a season ago.
George Mason: The Patriots were/are one of my sleepers in the A-10. But losing twice at home — to Penn by one and American by three in overtime — will put even more pressure on them to come up with significant wins in the non-conference (Cincinnati, at Kansas State) to have a chance of an at-large.
Keep an eye on
Stony Brook: The Seawolves had quite an opening week with an overtime win at GW and then a two-point win at South Carolina. Junior guard Akwasi Yeboah had quite a day in Columbia with 24 points and 11 boards.
Moses Brown, UCLA: The 7-1 freshman may end up being a difference maker for the Bruins this season. He scored 19 and grabbed 17 boards in the opening win against Fort Wayne and then had 17 and 10 plus three blocks in a win over Long Beach State.