College Basketball Power Rankings for Week 17 of the season feature the rise of a second Big East squad and the fall of a West Coast front-runner.
Note: These are the schools I believe are playing the best right now, not necessarily the Top 10 based on resume or AP Rankings.
Butler has won its last four games. It’s the last two wins that have me on board with the Bulldogs. BU went to Philly and knocked off Villanova for the second time this year, and then followed that up with a convincing win on the road at Xavier. This is a tough-minded, experienced team that knows how to win on the road. That’s a squad you ride with in March.
Michael White is the Coach of the Year in the SEC. Florida is long, athletic, physical and plays at a high pace. The Gators gave Kentucky all it could handle in Lexington before the ‘Cats were able to pull away. On a neutral site, say the SEC championship game, I am going with Florida.
I flirted with taking Gonzaga out of the top 10 in this week’s Power Rankings. A down year for the WCC makes it imperative the Zags don’t experience many down nights, especially at home when you are a 20-point favorite. It gives me pause when picking these guys in my bracket.
Arizona lost on its home floor to a like-minded UCLA team, I refuse to read too much into that loss. Arizona remains a dangerous team with skilled players that dictate tempo.
This team is deep with a lot of weapons. You need to have a bonafide star to go far in the dance, and Oregon has that in Dillon Brooks: a guy with a penchant for the big play when the moment calls for it. This team is balanced. As good as they are offensively, they bring it in similar fashion defensively.
Donovan Mitchell leads the way for another team that plays at a feverish pace. They play a disruptive brand of basketball that makes it uncomfortable for the opponent to play the style they are accustomed too. Louisville’s ability to dominant a game with pressure, play high-level defense in the half court, and run an offense in attack mode for 40 minutes makes them a sexy pick in March.
Butler simply has this team’s number. No one else in the nation does, though. Villanova is built for a deep run. The ‘Cats have great guard play, guys who have been there, shooters on deck, and a star that can take the reins in Josh Hart.
UCLA has won seven straight, in that stretch knocking off two of the Pac-12’s elite in Oregon and Arizona. Lonzo Ball is ready to cement his name as a one-and-done legend in the same vein as Carmelo Anthony and Jahlil Okafor.
2) North Carolina
This is the most dangerous team in college basketball at the moment. Justin Jackson is playing at a ridiculous level, dropping 20+ in his last three outings. The Tar Heels are bullies in the paint. They can take over a game by pursuing high percentage two point field goals via the drive, low post touches, or their bread and butter, second chance opportunities.
With seven wins over top 25 teams, these Jayhawks are battle-tested. They can light up a scoreboard and they are one of the nation’s most efficient shooting the long ball. Frank Mason III is the national player of the year and Josh Jackson has emerged as a potential first pick in the NBA draft. So yeah, Kansas is the best team in basketball and a clear-cut choice for No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.