Another week of college basketball, another set of rankings to crumble. A new No. 1 team reigns in Division I — Baylor, setting a single-season record by becoming the seventh team to top the rankings this year.
The Bears overcame a double-digit, second-half deficit at Oklahoma State to ultimately topple Gonzaga, which held the top spot for the past four weeks.
Though the ‘Zags dropped in the rankings, their winning ways remained intact. Duke, Auburn and Butler weren’t as fortunate. Formerly ranked Nos. 3-5, each program lost twice in the past week and four of the six combined losses were on the road against unranked teams.
With three teams in the top-5 losing twice and six of the top 12 dropping a game, here’s a look at the newest rankings.
|4||San Diego State||19-0||1422||7|
Rising from the ashes of the old top-5 is San Diego State. The Aztecs — up three spots to No. 4 — matched the program’s highest ranking ever after extending its streak of perfection to 19 games. SDSU last accomplished this in 2010-11 when it won 20 straight to open the year and reached the Sweet 16, led by a little-known forward by the name of Kawhi Leonard.
Right behind the Aztecs are Florida State, Louisville and Dayton. The No. 5 Seminoles have won nine in a row, most recently earning an overtime decision over Miami (FL) in which Devin Vassell went for 23 points and 11 rebounds while the defense forced 24 turnovers. Their hot streak warranted a four-spot improvement and the program’s first top-5 appearance since 1973.
As for Dayton, Obi Toppin might be the trendy candidate for national player of the year, but Jalen Crutcher’s performance against Saint Louis guided the Flyers into the top 10. Crutcher had 21 points, including the game-winning 3 just before the overtime buzzer as Dayton erased a 13-point deficit to beat the Billikens. Following the win, Dayton jumped six spots to No. 7 — its highest mark since 1968.
Thriving in the Garden State
No team had a bigger improvement between polls than Seton Hall. The Pirates are winners of eight straight and continue to find creative ways to win. In the past two first halves, they’ve trailed St. John’s by 13 at Madison Square Garden and before that, found themselves down 10 against Butler. Myles Powell scored 19 and 23 points respectively — all in the second halves. He finished with 29 in both games and Seton Hall surges back to No. 10.
To find the last team to beat Seton Hall, you’ll have to travel less than 30 miles down the Garden State Parkway. Rutgers beat the Pirates by 20 back in December, the beginning of a stretch of eight wins in nine games for the Scarlet Knights. As of Jan. 20, Steve Pikiell’s team is tied for second place in the Big Ten standings. More importantly, No. 24 Rutgers is ranked for the first time in 41 years. The Scarlet Knights were one of four teams to enter the rankings this week. These are the others:
- No. 19 Iowa
- No. 22 Arizona
- No. 25 Houston
Here are some of the top games to watch this week
No. 13 Butler at No. 9 Villanova
Losses to Seton Hall and DePaul threaten to derail Butler’s dream season as the Bulldogs slipped in the rankings this week. What better way to turn things around than with a road win at perennial Big East contender Villanova. Butler heads to ‘Nova on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
No. 15 Kentucky at No. 18 Texas Tech
The Wildcats are a South Carolina buzzer-beater away from possibly still being in the top 10. They’ll have a chance to move back up after the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Kentucky heads to Lubbock on Saturday, Jan. 25 to take on Texas Tech.
No. 11 Michigan State at Indiana
Michigan State has only played three true road games this year, twice against the Big Ten. Its last time out away from East Lansing, the Spartans were dealt a 29-point drubbing by Purdue. Indiana is 11-1 in Assembly Hall with a 2-1 record against ranked teams. There is plenty for both teams to play for when they meet in Bloomington on Thursday, Jan. 23.