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Andy Katz | Correspondent | December 28, 2020

College basketball rankings: Wisconsin, Illinois, Creighton surge in Power 36

College basketball rankings: Northwestern is legit, plus more Power 36 notes

There isn’t much movement in the top 10, but there is plenty in the rest of the Power 36. That’s to be expected in an unprecedented season.

On to the rankings for Dec. 28, for fans to digest and debate (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. Gonzaga (1): The Bulldogs torched Virginia in Fort Worth. They are the team to beat. It’s Gonzaga vs. The Field.

2. Baylor (2): The Bears may not get a crack at Gonzaga until March or April. They’ll need to hold off plenty of Big 12 challengers first.

3. Villanova (3): The Wildcats are on pause for at least the next week but prior to that they knocked off Marquette.

4. Kansas (4): The Jayhawks are the top challenge to Baylor in the Big 12 and may end up being the team to beat in the conference by season’s end.

5. Houston (6): The Cougars handled their toughest challenge since Texas Tech by winning at UCF.

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6. Texas (7): The Longhorns are starting to look the part of a Big 12 title contender.

7. Tennessee (9): SEC play gets going later this week. The Vols are the team to beat.

8. Wisconsin (13): The Badgers won at Michigan State on Christmas Day to establish themselves as potentially the team to beat in the Big Ten.

9. Missouri (11): The Tigers are the top challenger to Tennessee in the SEC.

10. Illinois (19): The Illini catapult back into the top 15 with an impressive win over Indiana.

11. Creighton (21): The Bluejays' loss to Marquette woke them up. They’re ready to challenge 'Nova for the Big East title.

12. Iowa (5): The Hawkeyes lost in overtime at Minnesota. There is no shame in losing on the road in the Big Ten this season.

13. West Virginia (8): The Mountaineers did get blitzed by Kansas, but don’t fret Mountaineer fans. They will be in the thick of the Big 12 race.

14. Oregon (15): The Ducks are now the team to beat in the Pac-12.

15. Michigan (18): The Wolverines remained undefeated in the Big Ten after a Christmas Day win at Nebraska.

16. Northwestern (NR): The Wildcats proved themselves worthy of a top-20 ranking after winning at Indiana and coming back to beat Ohio State. The Wildcats are 3-0 for the first time since 1968.

WILDCATS: In the mercilessly deep Big Ten, here's how Northwestern has emerged as the surprise leader

17. Minnesota (26): The Gophers took down Iowa in overtime behind Marcus Carr’s 30. The Gophers beat Saint Louis and Iowa on back-to-back weekends at home.

18. Ohio State (23): The Buckeyes lost to Northwestern. There is nothing wrong with that this season. That came after the Buckeyes beat Rutgers.

19. Rutgers (12): The Scarlet Knights lost to Ohio State, but are primed to be in the top five Big Ten chase.

20. NC State (NR): The Wolfpack plucked off rival North Carolina to serve notice that they are back to being an NCAA tournament bid contender.

21. Florida State (20): The loss at home to UCF may end up being an outlier for the Seminoles. This squad is still one of the favorites to win the ACC.

22. Virginia Tech (NR): The Hokies were an omission last week. They are back into the top 25.

23. Boise State (NR): The Broncos are another team that should have been given their due. They are getting it now.

24. BYU (24): The Cougars are starting to be even more diversified offensively, making them dangerous to everyone in the WCC outside of Gonzaga.

25. San Diego State (25): The Aztecs dismantled Saint Mary’s, bouncing back after the home loss to BYU.

26. Virginia (14): The Cavaliers gave up 98 points to the best team in the country. But they still did score 75.

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27. Texas Tech (27): The Red Raiders are still searching for a signature win. But they are still good enough to warrant a top-30 ranking.

28. Michigan State (10): The Spartans got beat by maybe the best team in the Big Ten. But they will be fine.

29. North Carolina (16): The Tar Heels will likely surge back up here soon.

30. UCLA (28): The Bruins didn’t get a chance to play Oregon due to a COVID issue with game officials.

31. Arkansas (30): The Razorbacks need a challenge to see where this team truly stands.

32. Xavier (17): The Musketeers are still going to be a major factor in the Big East.

33. UConn (31): The Huskies were on pause last week.

34. Stanford (32): The Cardinal have relocated to Santa Cruz and are making the most of their new home by winning.

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35. Clemson (33): The Tigers face a showdown against Florida State this week.

36. Saint Louis (35): The Billikens are now the team to beat in the A-10.

Dropped out: No. 22 Indiana, No. 29 Richmond, No. 34 USC, No. 36 UCF

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.

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