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Andy Katz, Correspondent | November 30, 2020

College basketball rankings: Michigan State, Richmond soar in first Power 36 of 2020 regular season

College basketball rankings: Iowa climbs into the top 3 in Andy Katz's Power 36

The first week of the 2020-21 men's college basketball season produced upsets, rescheduling, cancelations and buzzer-beaters.

The Power 36 will be a wild ride over the next 16 weeks. Here we go for Week 1, with my preseason ranking in parentheses next to the team:

1. Gonzaga (1): Dominant, efficient offensively in wins over Kansas and Auburn in Florida.

2. Baylor (2): The Bears came back off shut down and blew out Louisiana and Washington in Las Vegas.

3. Iowa (5): The Hawkeyes didn’t play high-level competition but Luka Garza was nearly untouchable in his first two games.

4. Michigan State (12): The Spartans took apart Notre Dame for one of the most impressive wins of the weekend.

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5. Illinois (4): The Illini nearly got clipped by Ohio at home. But Illinois found a way to win and showed it can close out games.

6. Wisconsin (6): The Badgers haven’t been tested yet. But they have looked like the tri-Big Ten champs so far.

7. Villanova (3): The Wildcats won the Empire Classic by dismantling Arizona State. The overtime loss to Virginia Tech was a surprise but shouldn’t be a major strike.

8. Kansas (8): The Jayhawks lost to the No. 1 team in the country (Gonzaga). They are still a work in progress. No reason to ding them for that.

9. Richmond (25): The Spiders didn’t play well offensively, yet still won handily at Kentucky. The A-10 favorites are going to be a threat throughout the season.

MORE: Spiders shock Kentucky for first-ever top-10 win on the road

10. Duke (11): The Blue Devils have their next star in Jalen Johnson. The tests are coming to Cameron Indoor with Michigan State and Illinois.

11. Houston (22): The Cougars put on quite a show in taking down Texas Tech in Fort Worth. The American favorites are looking the part.

12. West Virginia (23): The Mountaineers won the tournament in South Dakota by holding back a strong Western Kentucky crew that will be a factor.

13. Creighton (16): The Bluejays came off quarantine and showed flashes offensively of what should be expected this season — a tough team to defend.

14. Virginia (7): The Cavaliers had a tremendous opener with 15 3-pointers against Towson. They made three against San Francisco. Ultimately, they will be fine and a top-10 team.

15. Tennessee (10): The Vols are on pause. No games yet to judge.

16. Kentucky (9): The Wildcats are evolving at a “normal” pace. They will figure it out over the next few weeks. Richmond was just more experienced at this juncture.

17. Rutgers (13): The Scarlet Knights are going to be in the thick of the Big Ten race. Not having Geo Baker hurts now, but they need him for the conference.

18. Virginia Tech (NR): The Hokies shocked Villanova in overtime — a game scheduled a few days before it took place — and then beat South Florida to show it wasn’t a fluke.

Virginia Tech's Keve Aluma talks with Andy Katz after the Hokies' upset win over No. 3 Villanova

19. Arizona State (14): The Sun Devils got popped by Villanova in the Empire title game. But Remy Martin showed at the Mohegan Sun that he can be a first-team All-American.

20. Saint Louis (36): The Billikens handled LSU at home to send a strong message that they are going to be right with Richmond all season.

21. Indiana (18): The Hoosiers will get a serious test this week in Asheville in the relocated Maui Invitational. But they deserve top-25 status heading into the event.

22. Florida State (21): The Seminoles are still my pick to be the team that upsets the ACC race yet again.

23. San Diego State (NR): The Aztecs beat UCLA to reassert themselves as the team to beat again in the Mountain West.

24. North Carolina (26): The Tar Heels have the goods to be back in the thick of the ACC race. They will find out more this week in Asheville.

25. Texas (20): The Longhorns knew they had something special in Greg Brown and so far he showed up and delivered.

26. Stanford (24): The Cardinal is the sleeper pick to finish in the top three in the Pac-12. We’ll see just how ready they are for that run in Asheville.

27. Oregon (27): The Ducks are one of the most intriguing teams this season with so many new pieces and a track record of always figuring it out under Dana Altman.

28. Western Kentucky (NR): The Hilltoppers deserve this recognition after knocking off Memphis and pushing West Virginia in South Dakota.

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29. Michigan (17): The Wolverines survived a scare from Oakland and had to go to overtime at home. But they are still trying to figure out a new playmaker to make this work.

30. Alabama (28): The Tide will find out just how ready they are for a run in Asheville this week.

31. Providence (30): The Friars get Indiana first in Asheville. The Maui tournament is going to be a barometer for a slew of teams.

32. Clemson (NR): The Tigers beat Purdue and Aamir Simms looked like a first-team all-ACC performer.

33. Oklahoma State (NR): The Cowboys have the top freshman in the country in Cade Cunningham and they have built enough around him to be a major factor in the Big 12.

34. Florida (29): The Gators will finally play this week after being on pause.

35. Louisville (NR): The Cardinals took out Seton Hall at home. Chris Mack always has a team in the mix.

36. UConn (33): The Huskies will find out where they stand this week at Mohegan Sun with multiple chances to prove themselves.

Editor's note: If you're a new reader of the Power 36, you can read more on its background here. The TL/DR version: College basketball expert Andy Katz releases a Power 36 ranking for Division I men’s basketball every week during the regular season and at select times in the offseason. It's his personal ranking of the 36 best teams at the moment that each ranking is released, based on his extensive history in covering the sport and his ongoing experiences watching games and traveling the country to get behind-the-scenes information while talking to coaches and players.

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