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Andy Katz, Correspondent | January 17, 2022

Auburn is the new No. 1 in Power 36 men's college basketball rankings

Auburn snatches the top spot in this week's Power 36 rankings

What a wild week.

Baylor. UCLA. USC. Michigan State. All lost.

And that all led to upheaval in the Power 36.

The new No. 1 is our men’s March Madness National Team of the Week: Auburn. The Tigers won road games at Alabama and at Ole Miss. So much attention has been given to Jabari Smith. But the play of Walker Kessler can’t be dismissed as secondary. Kessler had 20 points, 10 boards and seven blocks in the road win at Ole Miss. This team has ballers at every position.

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The player of the week came from our consistent No. 2 team — Gonzaga. Drew Timme, a preseason national player of the year favorite, stepped up with 30 in a showdown against BYU at home and then dropped 32 at Santa Clara. The Zags were dominant to open the WCC and served notice that it will take a Herculean effort to beat them in the conference this season.

Onto the Power 36:

1. Auburn (7): The Tigers are playing the best basketball in the country and won at Alabama and Ole Miss this past week.

2. Gonzaga (2): The Zags got leapfrogged by virtue of Auburn beating Alabama and the Tide knocking off the Zags in Seattle last month. Still, the Zags are rolling in the WCC so far.

3. Arizona (5): The Wildcats are now the team to beat in the Pac-12.

4. Illinois (14): The Illini enter Monday’s game against Purdue as the only remaining undefeated team in the Big Ten.

5. Villanova (8): The Wildcats are steamrolling teams in the Big East.

6. Wisconsin (10): The Badgers have found their rhythm and are consistently finding ways to win.

7. Purdue (11): The Boilermakers get a shot to get back in the Big Ten race against Illinois Monday.

8. Kentucky (17): The Wildcats demolished Tennessee. It was as thorough a beat down as any team has performed in conference.

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9. Duke (12): The Blue Devils had a convincing win at Wake Forest in Coach K’s absence.

10. Baylor (1): The Bears could have dropped further after losing home games to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. This is their mulligan.

11. Michigan State (4): The Spartans were playing with fire of late and got burned in the final minute by Northwestern. This should serve as a Big Ten wakeup.

12. UCLA (3): The Bruins lost at home to Oregon and didn’t look the part of being a Pac-12 favorite. They need to avoid digging themselves into a hole.

13. Houston (13): The Cougars, sans their top two guards, continue to win in the American.

14. Kansas (9): The Jayhawks are still one of the top teams in the country but they haven’t played like that of late. They will be ultimately in the top 10.

15. Ohio State (15): The Buckeyes are finally getting healthy and past their COVID issues.

16. USC (6): The Trojans were one of the last remaining unbeaten teams but then got clipped by Stanford and at home to Oregon.

17. Loyola-Chicago (25): The Ramblers are no longer a fluke. This team/program is for real.

18. Providence (24): The Friars are on a lengthy pause. Yes, they lost at Marquette prior to the shutdown, but this team should come back strong.

19. Texas Tech (22): The Red Raiders had a letdown after two monster wins, including at Baylor.

20. Indiana (23): The Hoosiers knocked off Ohio State and I remain faithful that this team will be a solid NCAA tournament team.

21. Iowa State (21): The Cyclones are holding their ground in the Big 12 and gave Kansas quite a scare.

22. Texas (33): The Longhorns fell to Iowa State but are a top-five Big 12 squad.

23. North Carolina (30): When the season ends I still believe the Tar Heels will be the second-best team in the ACC.

24. Oregon (NR): The Ducks swept UCLA and USC on the road. Fans or no fans it doesn’t matter. The Ducks are going in the right direction at 4-2 in the Pac-12.

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25. LSU (16): The Tigers lost at home to Arkansas but did beat Florida.

26. Davidson (29): The Wildcats got the buzzer-beater win at Richmond behind Michael Jones’ 29.

27. Iowa (NR): The Hawkeyes had a great week with wins over Indiana and at Minnesota.

28. West Virginia (34): The Mountaineers did lose at Kansas after beating Oklahoma State, which then turned around and beat Baylor. West Virginia will be just fine.

29. Florida State (NR): The Seminoles are back in the Power 36 with wins over Miami and at Syracuse to move to 4-2 in the ACC.

30. Miami (18): The Hurricanes lost to Florida State and are settling back to probably a more realistic spot. Still work to be done for bid security.

31. San Diego State (35): The Aztecs are on pause after the Colorado State win.

32. Colorado State (36): The Rams have won two in a row in the Mountain West after losing to the Aztecs.

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33. UConn (28): The Huskies had to go to overtime to beat St. John’s. They still are still getting back to their strong play from earlier in the season.

34. Texas A&M (NR): Buzz Williams has the Aggies 15-2 and 4-0 in the SEC.

35. Mississippi State (NR): The Bulldogs had a season-changing week with a win over Alabama to go to 3-1 in the SEC.

36. Murray State (36): The Racers beat rival Belmont on the road by 22 behind Justice Hill’s eight 3s and 36 points. Murray State is 4-0, 14-2 overall (one of the two losses is to Auburn).

Dropped out: Oklahoma (19), Seton Hall (20), Alabama (26), Tennessee (27), Xavier (31), Creighton (32).

Also under consideration: Marquette, Arkansas, BYU, TCU, San Francisco.

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