The schedule is finally going to settle down — a bit.
Teams have been running all across the globe, through the mainland, Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico the past few weeks. And it has had an effect on the results. There is no question teams are tired. Injuries are starting to pile up. But we are still seeing the elite teams rising to the top — even in early December
College basketball rankings: The Power 36 for Week 4
Last week's rankings in parentheses:
1. Purdue (1): The Boilermakers are one of the most complete teams in the country. And I am starting to believe they are better than last season’s team.
2. Texas (3): The Longhorns are primed for another major showdown, this time in New York against Illinois after beating Creighton at home.
3. Houston (4): The Cougars continue to find ways to win, because they’ve got the best defense in the country.
4. Virginia (11): This is called a course correction. The Cavaliers proved me wrong with the road win at Michigan.
5. UConn (6): The Huskies are a legit Final Four contender. They showed there was no hangover from Phil Knight Invitational title with a win over Oklahoma State.
6. Tennessee (7): The Vols have righted any early issues and are doing just fine as an SEC title contender.
7. Arkansas (12): Nick Smith Jr., is playing and putting up points, making the Hogs even more dangerous.
8. Duke (9): The Blue Devils have quite a high ceiling. The Iowa game Tuesday will be another major test for Duke.
9. Arizona (2): The Wildcats had the one odd blemish by losing to Utah. That will turn out to be an anomaly.
10. Maryland (18): Welcome to the top-10 for Kevin Willard in his first season with the Terps. Maryland is undefeated after beating Illinois.
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11. Kansas (8): The Jayhawks got the win against Seton Hall, but the next two games will be a true test at Missouri and hosting Indiana.
12. Indiana (5): The Hoosiers lost at Rutgers after beating North Carolina but starting guard Jalen Hood-Schifino didn’t play against the Scarlet Knights with a back injury.
13. Baylor (13): The Bears bounced back from the Marquette loss in a comeback win against Gonzaga in South Dakota.
14. Alabama (14): The Tide will have a chance to shake up the poll if they can knock off Houston this weekend.
15. Illinois (20): Coleman Hawkins had a triple double against Syracuse and then the Illini played well in a tight loss at Maryland.
16. Iowa State (16): The Cyclones blitzed St. John’s and are clearly an upper-tier team in the Big 12.
17. Kentucky (27): The Wildcats finally put all the pieces together in London in the win over Michigan on Sunday.
18. Miami (NR): The ‘Canes are back. Miami’s win over Rutgers should signal Miami is going to be in the thick of a top-four finish in the ACC.
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19. UCLA (21): The Bruins are off to a 2-0 start in the Pac-12 and have a showdown at future Big Ten foe Maryland on Dec. 14.
20. TCU (25): The Horned Frogs got a shelf-life win over Iowa and then handled Providence by 13.
21. Gonzaga (15): The Zags lost another close one, this time to Baylor in South Dakota. Alabama in Birmingham is still pending this month.
22. Iowa (33): The Hawkeyes’ Kris Murray is putting up Keegan Murray-like numbers. He’ll be on a big stage Tuesday in New York against Duke in the Jimmy V.
23. Auburn (22): Auburn’s win over Saint Louis will have quad-one relevancy come March.
24. Rutgers (NR): The Scarlet Knights beat Indiana in a game where they finally had their veterans back together in Caleb McConnell and Paul Mulcahy. Remember the name Derek Simpson. He’s going to be a Rutgers star.
25. UNLV (30): The Runnin’ Rebels are 8-0 and are starting to look like an NCAA-bid contender.
26. San Diego State (19): The Aztecs have bounced back after the two Maui losses. This squad is going to continue to rise.
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27. Arizona State (28): The Sun Devils are 2-0 in the Pac-12, which included Desmond Cambridge’s 3-pointer to beat Colorado.
28. Xavier (24): Jack Nunge is having a great season for the Musketeers. He had 17/14 in a win over West Virginia.
29. Wisconsin (23): The Badgers had a huge win over Marquette in Milwaukee in OT after falling to Wake Forest at the Kohl Center.
30. Marquette (NR): The Golden Eagles could have been a team of the week if they had beaten Wisconsin after handling Baylor at home.
31. Virginia Tech (NR): The Hokies are off to an 8-1 start after beating Minnesota and North Carolina.
32. Ohio State (31): The Buckeyes had some moments of hope against Duke in Cameron. Major test coming against Rutgers this week.
33. Utah (NR): The Utes stunned Arizona 81-66 and then held on to win at Washington State. Keep an eye on the Utes.
34. New Mexico (NR): Jalen House dropped 17 in a win over Saint Mary’s on the road for Richard Pitino’s undefeated Lobos.
35. College of Charleston (NR): The Cougars have won eight of nine and are the class of the CAA.
36. Missouri (NR): The Tigers are 9-0 under first-year coach Dennis Gates. I know they haven’t played a strong slate yet but they are playing well. Next up is old rival Kansas!
Dropped out: Creighton (10), North Carolina (17), Michigan State (26), Michigan (29), Oklahoma (36), Kansas State (32), Davidson (34), Drake (35).
Team of the week:
Maryland: The Terps are 8-0 after a rocking home win over No. 16 Illinois by five. Maryland played in front of a sold-out crowd at Xfinity. The Terps' Jahmir Young had 24 and hit the money 3-pointer for the clincher. Earlier in the week, the Terps destroyed Louisville by 25 on the road in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Player of the week:
Zach Edey, Purdue: The junior center is in the pole position for national player of the year, not just Big Ten player of the year. Edey had 25 points and eight boards at Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and opened the Big Ten with 31 points and 22 rebounds. He’s averaging a double-double this season, thus far.