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Andy Katz | Correspondent | December 20, 2021

Kentucky soars into top 10 in Power 36 men's college basketball rankings

Kentucky soars into top 10 in Power 36 men's college basketball rankings

Well, this has been a sobering week. Pauses, postponements and cancelations have come back like a tidal wave.

We have no idea when this surge will end and how many teams, players and staff will be affected. Of course, this pales in comparison to the human tragedy that is unfolding every day during this pandemic somewhere in this country and in every corner of the globe.

But our charge here is to power on with college sports and hope we can continue to live with this awful disease invading our daily lives in some form or fashion.

So, let’s divert our attention for our men’s college basketball rankings. The game is still in good hands with this current crop of players. The games have been tantalizingly entertaining with passionate crowds at most venues.

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And that leads us to the Power 36 rankings and weekly honors.

Kentucky wasn’t supposed to play North Carolina. But UCLA and Ohio State had to bow out due to COVID positives.

Player of the Week: Sahvir Wheeler

That meant for the second-straight season, a pop-up game occurred between the two tradition-rich powers. And this time Kentucky blasted North Carolina, behind our national player of the week, Sahvir Wheeler. Wheeler scored 26 points, dished out eight assists and had four steals in the 98-69 win over the Tar Heels in Las Vegas. The Georgia transfer guard has settled into John Calipari’s system and is running the Wildcats the way he wanted. The win over the Tar Heels was exactly what Kentucky needed heading into Wednesday’s rivalry game against Louisville.

Team of the Week: Providence

The game of the day on Saturday, though, involved two long-time Big East rivals, renewing their series in front of fans — a packed house at the XL Center in Hartford. Providence beat UConn to earn team of the week honors, edging out Hofstra, which stunned Arkansas in Little Rock.

The wins by Kentucky and Providence certainly will move both schools up in the rankings and in NCAA tournament projections. But there is no movement at the top where the reigning champs continue to reign.

RANKINGS: Click here for the latest NET rankings | AP Top 25

Remember, the Power 36 is a snapshot of the week — not the NCAA tournament seeding.

1. Baylor (1): Big road win over Oregon.

2. Arizona (2): The Wildcats remain undefeated.

3. Duke (3): Duke scrambled to find an opponent and settled on Elon — a W.

4. Kansas (4): The Jayhawks are rolling.

5. Gonzaga (10): The dominating win over Texas Tech moved the Zags back up into the top 5.

6. Purdue (8): The Boilermakers looked like themselves again after crushing Butler.

7. Ohio State (7): The Buckeyes are on pause but have my current player of the year in EJ Liddell.

8. Seton Hall (9): The Pirates were cruising until being on pause.

9. UCLA (6): The Bruins missed out on a golden chance to pick up another quality win before going on pause.

10. Kentucky (NR): The Wildcats ran Carolina out of Las Vegas.

11. USC (11): The Trojans head into their COVID pause undefeated.

12. Iowa State (12): The Cyclones remain undefeated and one of the surprise teams of the season.

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13. Michigan State (13): The Spartans are looking like a top three Big Ten team.

14. Auburn (18): Wowza. The Tigers are impressive.

15. Alabama (5): The Tide did dominate Gonzaga, but then turned around and lost badly to Memphis while the Zags had a great week.

16. Houston (14): The Cougars are going to be one of the toughest outs in March. Full stop.

17. West Virginia (16): The Mountaineers are one of the least discussed top 20 team right now.

18. Colorado State (19): The Rams are on pause but enter it at 10-0.

19. Providence (25): The Friars were our team of the week after a gritty win at UConn.

20. LSU (22): The Tigers continue to win. They are undefeated and deserve to be in the top 20.

21. Minnesota (21): The Gophers survived a scare with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but remain a one-loss team.

22. Xavier (20): The Musketeers got off to a great start with the Big East win over Marquette.

23. Illinois (33): The Illini still aren’t healthy. But they are top 25 good.

24. Oklahoma (23): The Sooners are starting to find their groove.

25. Texas (27): The Longhorns finally looked like their preseason hype with a win over Stanford.

26. Wake Forest (NR): Time to recognize the Demon Deacons may be the second best team in the ACC.

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27. Wisconsin (29): The Badgers escaped a game with Nicholls State without Johnny Davis.

28. UConn (17): The Huskies didn’t have Adama Sanogo and nearly took down Providence.

29. TCU (30): The Horned Frogs are one of the sleepers in the Big 12. Pay attention.

30. Creighton (34): The loss to Arizona State shouldn’t have moved them up but the win over Villanova was so impressive in the last 10 minutes that they have to get a spot.

31. Tennessee (31): The Vols missed out on their chance to play Memphis when the Tigers went on pause.

32. Virginia Tech (NR): The Hokies absolutely obliterated St. Bonaventure by nearly 40.

33. Loyola Chicago (35): The Ramblers are on pause, so can’t be pushed down too far.

34. DePaul (36): The Blue Demons didn’t get a chance to match up with Northwestern due to a pause.

35. Northwestern (NR): The Wildcats have two losses to Providence and Wake Forest, not looking bad at all. This squad can make the tournament.

36. Michigan (NR): The Wolverines should be here. They have the talent to be here. They need to prove they should be higher.

Dropped out: North Carolina (15), San Francisco (24), Texas Tech (26), Arkansas (28), Villanova (32).

Also under consideration: BYU, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico State, Syracuse, Davidson, North Texas, Iona, Western Kentucky.

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