Villanova dropped Kansas on Saturday.
Chaos is here.
There are no great/dominating/intimidating teams this season. But that’s fine with me. Give me a last possession game like I saw Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in front of a packed passionate house, and all is well.
That’s exactly what we will get this season and into the NCAA tournament.
The unknown will be the common theme. No team is safe. Rankings will be hard to keep, and in March, seeds are going to be upset.
Embrace the unpredictability of 2020.
The snapshot of rankings is at least a measurement of who is playing well in the previous week.
1. Gonzaga (2): The Zags pulled away from Cole Anthony-less North Carolina and have won all but one of their big games this season.
2. Ohio State (5): The day before I was at Gonzaga. I saw the Buckeyes, and they have all the pieces to win the title. They showed it in a win against Kentucky in Las Vegas.
3. Auburn (3): The Tigers remain one of three undefeated teams. The schedule hasn’t been daunting, but I was impressed when I saw them in person. Samir Doughty is their new star.
4. Oregon (4): Payton Pritchard is a first-team all-American through the first two months of the season, and the Ducks are only scratching the surface of their potential.
5. Duke (6): The Blue Devils will end up winning with defense. This isn’t an elite Duke offensive team, but it’s good enough to win big.
6. Baylor (7): The Bears continue to be one of my favorites to make a deep run to Atlanta.
7. Memphis (11): The Tigers aren’t getting James Wiseman back this season. He opted to turn pro. But they still have the pieces to win the AAC and go on a deep run led by Precious Achiuwa.
8. Louisville (8): The Cardinals didn’t have an impressive win this week. But unlike a number of teams in their ranking neighborhood, they didn’t lose.
9. San Diego State (15): The Aztecs topped the NET this past week and crushed a Utah team that dropped Kentucky earlier in the week.
10. Butler (17): The Bulldogs beat Purdue in Indianapolis and are the team to beat in the Big East for this week.
11. Villanova (21): The Wildcats took down No. 1 Kansas by one with a stellar closing defensive performance by Collin Gillespie.
12. Kansas (1): The Jayhawks could have stayed at No. 1 if they didn’t mishandle the final two minutes at Villanova. They had the game won, but they didn’t close out by making free throws and handling the ball. Marcus Garrett’s ankle injury didn’t help them. They will ultimately be fine and challenge for a top seed.
13. Michigan State (12): The Spartans were the only Big Ten team to win a road game in December. I know it was at Northwestern, but the Wildcats are going to beat teams at home this season (see: Providence).
14. Florida State (18): The Seminoles are the most underrated team every season. They have a real shot to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
15. Michigan (16): The Wolverines will ultimately be in the thick of the Big Ten race.
16. Marquette (19): Markus Howard continues to be a must watch.
17. Penn State (22): The Nittany Lions are entering the Big Ten looking like a lock to finish in the top five in the conference.
18. Northern Iowa (NR): The Panthers have wins over Colorado and South Carolina, which beat Virginia. They are the new team to beat in the Valley.
19. Colorado (NR): The Buffaloes beat Dayton at the buzzer and gave them the win they desperately needed for their resume and confidence.
20. Dayton (9): The Flyers got beat at the buzzer on a neutral court in Chicago. They are still the best in the A-10.
21. West Virginia (24): The Mountaineers have the best frontcourt outside of Lawrence in the Big 12.
22. Wichita State (26): Gregg Marshall has the Shockers ready to challenge for a conference title again.
23. Washington (23): The Huskies are going for a title in Hawaii this week in preparation to win one again in the Pac-12.
24. Creighton (29): The Bluejays are quietly mounting a Big East title contending season.
25. Saint Mary’s (32):The Gaels have one of the best guards in the country in Jordan Ford (see player of the week). The Gaels-Zags games this season are going to be something special.
26. DePaul (30): The Blue Demons continue to prove they aren’t disappearing anytime soon.
27. Iowa (31): No Jordan Bohannon for the season, but it didn’t matter against Cincinnati. The Hawkeyes apparently have enough, led by Luka Garza, to contend.
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28. Maryland (13): There has to be a penalty in the rankings for losing to a team — Seton Hall — that didn’t have its top two players, even if it was on the road. The Terps are better than this, and they will prove it in due time.
29. Texas Tech (33): The Red Raiders, once healthy, will be a threat in the Big 12.
30. Xavier (NR): The Musketeers picked up a true road win at TCU.
31. Liberty (35): The Flames are 14-0 heading into the last weekend of the year with a road game at LSU.
32. Indiana (NR): The Hoosiers have climbed back since the disaster at Wisconsin.
33. USC (NR): The Trojans have had two slip-ups in what has been overall a solid first half of the season.
34. Stanford (NR): The Cardinal have only one loss and play host to Kansas this weekend.
35. Arkansas (NR): Eric Musselman has the Razorbacks in position to upset the SEC. But up first is a road game at Indiana.
36. Utah State (NR): The Aggies jump back into the rankings with a win over Florida.
Out: Kentucky (10), Virginia (14), Texas (20), NC State (25), Arizona (27), Illinois (28), Arizona State (34) and Duquesne (36).
Team of the Week
Villanova: The Wildcats knocked off No. 1 Kansas, 56-56, in the thrilling, chaotic final two minutes at Wells Fargo Arena Saturday. The win comes a month after they were blown out at Ohio State. The improvement shows the Wildcats can once again challenge for the Big East title after not being picked to win it for the first time since the league was reformed as a 10-member league. The race for the Big East title is wide open with teams like Butler and DePaul, predicted to finish lower, now as legit title contenders.
Player of the Week
Jordan Ford, Sr., G, Saint Mary's: Ford was stellar this week in neutral-court wins over Arizona State in Phoenix and Nevada in San Francisco. Ford scored 34 points and grabbed six boards in the 40-point win over the Sun Devils. He finished the week with 21 and five in a five-point win over the Wolf Pack. Ford, averaging 21.4 points and is shooting 52.3 percent, enters the new year as the favorite to win the WCC Player of the Year and be an All-American. And he's the reason the Gaels are a legit second-weekend contender in the NCAA tournament.