Finding a rhythm will be the biggest challenge in the final month of the season.
Those that can will have the momentum for the NCAA tournament. Those that cannot will be in trouble.
Baylor is stalled again. Gonzaga is not. Michigan is coming out of a 14-day lockdown. Ohio State and Illinois are not.
This is the reality of the season. Teams that can avoid disruptions will likely ultimately prevail.
Onto the latest Power 36 with games ending Feb. 7.
1. Gonzaga (1): Zags had a scare for 20-plus minutes at Pacific before finding their second gear.
2. Baylor (2): The Bears are back on pause.
3. Michigan (5): The Wolverines should be back from pause by Sunday.
4. Ohio State (8): The Buckeyes are a title contender.
5. Illinois (9): The Illini are back to looking like a Final Four contender.
6. Villanova (3): The Wildcats got upended by St. John’s but are still the team to beat in the Big East.
7. Texas Tech (25): The Red Raiders have won three in a row and are starting to find their mojo.
8. Oklahoma (6): The Sooners are now the second-best team in the Big 12.
9. Missouri (16): The Tigers get the nod this week as possibly the best in the SEC after beating Alabama.
10. Virginia (13): The Cavaliers are back to being the top team in the ACC.
11. Iowa (10): The Hawkeyes are suddenly struggling and need to find a way to close on the road.
12. Alabama (11): The Tide had a rough time in the final minutes on consecutive Saturdays.
13. West Virginia (24): The Mountaineers smacked Kansas and Miles McBride put up 29.
14. Texas (7): The Longhorns have stumbled post pause.
15. Florida State (14): The Seminoles had their momentum stunted. Let’s see how they come out of this pause.
16. USC (22): The Trojans are the most talented team in the Pac-12 and took advantage of the shorthanded Bruins.
17. UCLA (12): The Bruins put up a valiant effort with a depleted frontcourt.
18. Houston (4): The Cougars lost at East Carolina and don’t get any points for passing on Gonzaga for Our Lady of the Lake.
19.Virginia Tech (20): The Hokies survived against Miami and stay in the ACC chase.
“Our guys are bought in right now. We’re locked in and we have one goal.”— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 5, 2021
Duane Washington Jr. (@dwizthekid4) spoke with @TheAndyKatz after @OhioStateHoops took down No. 8 Iowa on the road. pic.twitter.com/uFMb9F8etW
20. Oklahoma State (21): The Cowboys have Cade Cunningham and no one else does. That’s good enough to survive in the Big 12.
21. Tennessee (23): The Vols won at Kentucky, but this team still needs to get to the way it played a month ago.
22. Wisconsin (28): The Badgers lack consistency. They’ve got to find it here soon.
23. Purdue (19): It’s only a matter of time before this latest Baby Boilers take over the program and climb toward the top of the Big Ten.
24. Creighton (15): The Bluejays got stunned by Georgetown but beat Marquette to stay in the chase.
BUBBLE TEAMS: 10 teams to watch with a month left in the season
25. Rutgers (29): The Scarlet Knights have found themselves and aren’t going anywhere in the final month of the Big Ten race.
26. Indiana (NR): The Hoosiers picked up a sweep of Iowa.
27. Maryland (NR): The Terps took down Purdue to continue their success of teams projected ahead of them.
28. Colorado (NR): The Buffaloes are finally playing like a team ready to make an NCAA tournament bid run.
29. Florida (18): The Gators are back to being on pause.
30. North Carolina (26): The Tar Heels beat Duke in Cameron and Caleb Love had a fantastic game in his first rivalry showdown.
31. Xavier (27): The Musketeers are on another pause. But still have the goods to make the race interesting in the Big East.
32. Seton Hall (NR): The Pirates’ wins at Providence and UConn sent a strong statement to the rest of the league that they are making a top four finish.
33. Louisville (30): The Cardinals are on pause.
34. Loyola-Chicago (36): The Ramblers now have the opening they need to overtake Drake after the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season.
35. Drake (17): Valpo got the split with Drake, pushing the Bulldogs down.
36. Belmont (35): The Bruins are still the dominant team in the OVC.
Out: No. 31 Duke, No. 32 Georgia Tech, No. 33 Boise State, No. 34 St. Bonaventure.
Below are the weekly honors for the week ending Feb. 7 in college basketball.
Player of the week
Evan Mobley, USC: Mobley helped lead the Trojans to the top of the Pac-12 with wins at Stanford and over UCLA. The 7-foot freshman scored 23 points and grabbed 11 boards in the win over the Cardinal and took advantage of the depleted Bruins with nine points, nine boards, four blocks in the win.
UNDEFEATED TRACKER: Here are the remaining unbeaten teams
Team of the Week
St. John’s: The Red Storm have won six in a row to move to 7-6 in the Big East, upsetting Villanova at home and then winning at Providence. St. John’s has put itself in position to earn a postseason berth to the Dance if it can just win the games it’s supposed to down the stretch. They still have four remaining home games and one still to be scheduled. The schedule is definitely favorable for the Red Storm to be in the race for a top four finish.
Headlines from the week Feb. 1-7:
- Miami hasn’t been healthy all season, but has played games close and been highly entertaining.
- Ole Miss had a great week with wins over Tennessee and at Auburn.
- The La Salle win over Saint Louis is one of the more shocking results this season and could haunt the Billikens.
- Patrick Ewing has Georgetown playing hard and much more efficient since the end of the Hoyas pause. The win over Creighton was a confidence boost and the near-miss at Villanova still bodes well for the program down the stretch.
- Washington State’s Kyle Smith has been a terrific hire for the Cougars. He notched a road win at Oregon to upset the Ducks’ pause return.
- Boise State’s Mountain West title and at-large chances took a brutal blow with a sweeping set of losses at Nevada.
- No team needed a win more than Michigan State. The Spartans got one against Nebraska.
- Evan Battey scored 21 and grabbed 7 boards in Colorado’s win over Arizona. Battey is plays with such tremendous pride and passion. Check him out if you get a chance.
- Davion Mitchell’s 27 for Baylor in the win over Texas is yet another example just how deep the Bears are this season.
- Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross is having a special season. But the Waves must get on a run from this point forward for him to be in the postseason.
Andy Katz is an NCAA.com correspondent. Katz worked at ESPN for 18 years as a college basketball reporter, host and anchor. He's covered every Final Four since 1992, and the sport since 1986 as a freshman at Wisconsin. He is a former president of the United States Basketball Writers Association. Katz can also be seen covering college basketball on Big Ten Network, Fox and FS1. Follow him on Twitter at @theandykatz. Follow his March Madness 365 weekly podcast here.
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