The college basketball power rankings show what is happening in the world of American sports. It’s a weekly rundown of how teams are doing with their games and records, as well as some analysis on what to expect from that week.
The “ncaa basketball power rankings 2021” is a list of the top teams in college basketball. The ranking is based on the performance of teams over the course of the season. It is updated weekly.
The CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas was the ideal culmination to the collegiate basketball season’s first week in 2021-22.
After Ohio State and UCLA had to withdraw due to COVID-19 concerns, what was supposed to be an elite doubleheader featuring Ohio State vs. Kentucky and UCLA vs. North Carolina became a single game between Kentucky and North Carolina. Due to COVID-19 difficulties, both the Bruins and the Buckeyes are off for the whole week.
The last week brought back memories of the 2020-21 season, when games were canceled or postponed one day before the start of the season (or in the case of Memphis vs. Tennessee, one hour before). It also brought back on-the-fly scheduling, as the Wildcats and Tar Heels hastily rearranged their schedules to meet one other. The NCAA tournament bubble, with its two-week breaks, daily testing, and empty venues, looked to put such difficulties in the rearview mirror for the first month of this season. They’re back, however, thanks to the introduction of the omicron type, and will undoubtedly have an influence on NCAA basketball in the coming weeks.
Last season, several teams thrived in that sort of atmosphere, and Kentucky seemed to be hitting its stride on Saturday, with SEC play just around the horizon. Last Friday, the Wildcats put on one of the most stunning performances of the season, defeating North Carolina 98-69.
Sahvir Wheeler established the tone on both ends of the floor against the Tar Heels, playing strong on-ball defense, driving the pace in transition, and frequently going to the basket. Wheeler had 26 points, eight assists, and four steals in the game. Furthermore, Kentucky produced its greatest 3-point shooting performance since last season, hitting more than 53% of their shots from beyond the arc.
This week’s prize had a limited number of contenders. Kentucky had a shot, but we spoke about the Wildcats before, and we’ll talk about Memphis after it beat Alabama. Although Creighton defeated Villanova, the Bluejays were defeated by Arizona State at home. So let’s take a look at Ed Cooley’s Friars.
While Seton Hall’s climb to the top 25 after being ranked fifth in the preseason Big East poll has gotten a lot of attention, Providence, which was picked seventh in the preseason survey, will certainly be in this week’s top 25 (it was already on my vote last week). The Friars enjoyed one of the more stunning victories this week, defeating UConn 57-53 in a defensive slugfest in Hartford.
Providence opened up a double-digit lead with a 17-1 run that spanned both halves, keeping the Huskies at bay for the most of the second half and then hanging on for the victory in the closing minutes. A.J. Reeves had a fantastic game, scoring 16 points (his third straight game with at least 16), and the Friars were great on defense, keeping their sixth consecutive opponent to less than 1 point per possession.
Williams was a part-time starter for a good Oklahoma team that was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round by Gonzaga last season. There wasn’t much hype about his potential influence when he departed the Sooners and moved to Wake Forest. Williams may be the most significant transfer in college basketball five weeks into the season.
Last week, the guard led the Demon Deacons to victories against VMI and Charlotte, turning up outstanding performances in the process. Williams scored 36 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in the comeback victory against VMI, and 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists against Charlotte. Last week, he went 22-for-32 from the field and 4-for-11 from three. This season, he has been one of the greatest players in the ACC, averaging 21.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists while shooting 58.0 percent.
Wake Forest has been one of the most surprising teams in the nation this season, going 11-1, and Williams is leading the way.
Last week, Memphis was in desperate need of a win. After a home defeat to Murray State on Dec. 10, the Tigers were 5-4 overall and on a four-game losing skid entering games against Alabama and Tennessee, they were one of the most talked-about teams in NCAA basketball after one month. What had happened to Penny Hardaway’s squad? Going up against an Alabama squad that had just beaten Gonzaga and Houston didn’t seem to be the finest formula for a season-saving win.
Against the Crimson Tide, though, the Tigers seemed to be a whole different team. They shared the ball (20 assists), shot better (64.9 percent from 2, 34.8 percent from three), and forced 20 turnovers, which they converted into easy transition chances. Hardaway chose to play several of last season’s veterans for lengthy periods of time, with DeAndre Williams returning as the offense’s focal point and Landers Nolley making an impression as a playmaker. Off the bench, Lester Quinones and Tyler Harris were excellent. Meanwhile, freshman Jalen Duren had one of his best games of the season, appearing significantly more successful on offense.
The Tigers’ Saturday game against Tennessee, as well as their Tuesday showdown against Alabama State, were postponed due to COVID-19, but they have have some momentum heading into AAC play.
Coach of the Week: Hofstra Pride’s Speedy Claxton
Claxton’s first season as coach, since the Hofstra great took over for Joe Mihalich in the spring, began with a pair of close calls. Hofstra led Houston for approximately 39 minutes in its season opener on Nov. 9 before squandering a double-digit lead and falling in overtime. The Pride lost by two points against Maryland after letting a lead slip away in the last minute. Hofstra led at halftime again against Richmond a few days later before losing.
Claxton and Hofstra, on the other hand, were not going to waste another chance against Arkansas on Saturday in Little Rock. Despite the absence of leading scorer Zach Cooks, the Pride built an early lead and never appeared in danger of losing control of the game. For the greater part of 30 minutes, they led by multiple possessions, and a late 13-2 surge put the game out of reach for the Razorbacks. It was Hofstra’s first victory against an AP Top 25 team since 1976, and the first notable win of the Claxton era, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Three groups were given questions.
Villanova Wildcats: Villanova hasn’t experienced a two-game run like this in more than 20 years, with a 20-point setback at Creighton after a 21-point loss at Baylor last weekend. It’s the first time the program has lost back-to-back 20-point games since 1998-99. The following are two frightening statistics from the two games: Nova had a total of nine assists in the two games, and she was just 10-for-50 from three-point range. And, as Jim Root of the Three Man Weave pointed out, if you include the victory against Syracuse shortly before this two-game losing skid, the Wildcats’ recent 3-point shooting is still only 23-for-100.
The Bonnies are still likely the top team in the Atlantic 10, but their lead isn’t as strong as it was at the start of the season, which is troubling for their at-large aspirations if they don’t earn the automatic bid. In star guard Kyle Lofton’s first game back after a three-game hiatus, they were thrashed by Virginia Tech, 86-49.
Oregon State Beavers are currently 1-10 after losing at home to UC Davis and being handled quite handily (also at home) by Texas A&M only nine months after coming within two baskets of the Final Four. Since winning the season opener against Portland State, they’ve gone on a 10-game losing run.
Baylor Bears, No. 1 (10-0) 1st place previously This week’s game is against Alcorn State (Monday)
On Saturday night, it appeared like Baylor might be the newest victim of the No. 1 curse for a little more than 20 minutes. The Bears trailed Oregon by four points at halftime in a game that shouldn’t have been so close; Adam Flagler had kept them in it with five first-half 3-pointers. Baylor, on the other hand, increased their vigor in the second half and eventually improved to 10-0. The second half was led by James Akinjo and Kendall Brown, who combined for 15 of the team’s 17 points. The Bears are continuing to impress and seem to be a serious contender to win back-to-back championships. Check out these two interesting facts from ESPN Stats & Information.
Since UNLV accomplished it in 1990-91, Baylor is the only defending national champion to win each of its first ten games by an average of eight points or more.
Since the start of last season, Baylor has played 40 games and won 35 of them by at least eight points.
December 19, 2021 — Jared Berson (@JaredBerson)
Duke Blue Devils, No. 2 (10-1) Previous position: 2 This week’s game is against Virginia Tech (Wednesday)
Following Duke’s lone defeat against Ohio State in late November, the Blue Devils returned to the floor after a two-week layoff. It was an easy three victories against South Carolina State, Appalachian State, and Elon, but A.J. Griffin’s performance was the most hopeful indicator. After missing a couple of weeks during the preseason due to an injured knee, the rookie got off to a poor start in the first month of the season. However, in last week’s three games, he averaged 20 minutes per game, displaying glimpses of the skill that made him a five-star recruit and probable lottery selection. Griffin scored 29 points and added four assists in a win against South Carolina State, and he scored in double figures again against Appalachian State. In the three games, he also went 6-for-11 from beyond the arc.
Purdue Boilermakers, No. 3 (10-1) 3rd place before. vs. Incarnate Word this week (Monday)
Matt Painter changed his starting lineup after three mediocre outings, including that one defeat. Zach Edey, a 7-foot-4 sophomore who had been promoted to the starting lineup before the season’s opening game but had a handful of inconsistencies, was demoted to the bench. Trevion Williams, a preseason All-American who had been outstanding and carried Purdue through the finish line against NC State previous weekend, stepped in. Of course, the maneuver was flawless. Despite foul problems, Edey had his finest game in a few weeks, scoring 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks in 20 minutes off the bench, while Williams didn’t miss a 2-point attempt and finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Painter has the luxury of being able to depend on two powerful bigs.
Arizona Wildcats (#4) (11-0) Previous position: 4 This week’s destination is Tennessee (Wednesday)
Bench output was one of Tommy Lloyd’s team’s bright spots this week. The Wildcats have a tight eight-man rotation, with three transfers, Justin Kier (Georgia), Oumar Ballo (Gonzaga), and Pelle Larsson, shouldering the burden off the bench (Utah). In victories against Northern Colorado and Cal Baptist, all three players made an impact. Kier scored in double digits in both victories, making it three games in a row that he has done so. Larsson made three 3-pointers for the second time this season in a victory against Cal Baptist. Ballo has been the biggest surprise, since he was hardly playable at Gonzaga previous season. However, he has improved his physique and game on both sides of the court. In 20 minutes against Cal Baptist, he had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
Kansas Jayhawks, No. 5 (9-1) Previous position: 5 This week’s destination is Colorado (Tuesday)
There have been a few moments this season when Jalen Wilson seemed to be on the verge of resuming his previous season’s form. Wilson, who was one of the team’s finest players and started every game last season, was banned for the first three games of 2021-22 and has yet to fully recover. This season, he has yet to start a game. Bill Self wanted someone else in the frontcourt to step up after David McCormack got into early foul trouble and only played 10 minutes against Stephen F. Austin on Saturday. Wilson, who had his finest game of the season, entered the fray. He ended with 10 points and four rebounds, and he was the most active we’ve seen him yet, giving us hope that he’ll begin to round into shape as conference play approaches. For the Jayhawks, he adds another dimension.
Gonzaga Bulldogs, No. 6 (9-2) Previous position: 7 This week’s matchup is against Northern Arizona (Monday)
Gonzaga must have grown weary of hearing that it was overly dependent on scoring in the paint and lacked consistency on the perimeter. On Saturday, Gonzaga didn’t push the issue with Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren in the post against Texas Tech’s feared no-middle defense. Timme only attempted four shots, while Holmgren only attempted one two-pointer. Instead, the Zags just pushed the Red Raiders out of the way. They hit 13 three-pointers, their most in a game since last season’s first-round NCAA tournament triumph against Norfolk State, and did it at a 41.9 percent rate, their second-best of the season. Andrew Nembhard came out of his funk, Rasir Bolton scored five 3-pointers, and freshman Nolan Hickman came off the bench to make some contributions. It was a positive indicator for Gonzaga’s future balance.
UCLA Bruins, No. 7 (8-1) Previous position: 8 NONE this week.
Due to COVID-19 difficulties, UCLA hasn’t played since a victory over Marquette on December 11th. Last Wednesday, just an hour before tipoff, the Bruins had to cancel their game against Alabama State when head coach Mick Cronin was forced to leave due to COVID rules. Then they had to formally withdraw from the CBS Sports Classic on Friday afternoon, when they were slated to meet North Carolina. They were supposed to face Cal Poly on Wednesday, but that game has been canceled as well. UCLA’s next game is on December 30 at home against Arizona.
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Michigan State Spartans, No. 8 (9-2) Previous position: 9 This week’s matchup is against Oakland (Tuesday)
This week, Michigan State had no games, which was good since it had nothing to do with COVID-19. The Spartans were simply without a game on their schedule. Before the start of Big Ten play in January, they have two more nonconference games: one in Detroit against Oakland and one at home against High Point. So far this season, Tom Izzo’s team’s defensive strength has been the most important factor. At KenPom, the Spartans are ranked sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency, with defensive free throw rate, 3-point defense, 2-point defense, and block % all in the top 50 nationally. Much of this is due to Marcus Bingham’s interior domination, but the Spartans are also much better linked defensively than they were last season. Only three teams have outscored Michigan State by more than 0.96 points per possession.
The Crimson Tide of Alabama is ranked ninth in the country (9-2) Previous position: 6 This week’s matchup is against Davidson (Tuesday)
Following back-to-back weekends of victories over Gonzaga and Houston, the Crimson Tide came crashing down this week, falling by 14 points at Memphis and then battling to a 6-point victory against Jacksonville State. Alabama failed to hit jumpers from the outside and had a lot of turnovers against Memphis. Against Jacksonville State, the turnovers were less of a concern, but the shooting difficulties persisted. After scoring 46 points on 11-for-19 shooting from three against the Zags and Cougars, Jaden Shackelford only scored 10 points on 1-for-9 shooting from three against Memphis and Jacksonville State.
The Iowa State Cyclones are ranked No. 10 in the nation (11-0) Previous position: 10 This week’s game is against Chicago State (Tuesday)
Iowa State has one more December game against Chicago State on Tuesday before starting the Big 12 season. That’s when we’ll find out whether the Cyclones have what it takes to compete in the top half of the conference. With top-ranked Baylor visiting Ames on New Year’s Day, they will have a great opportunity to make a statement. So far this season, the Bears have only played one genuine road game: Saturday’s game against Oregon, when they labored for 20 minutes before pulling away. Iowa State should give them a game at Hilton Coliseum. Following Baylor, Iowa State has home games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Texas Tech. If the Cyclones finish that six-game span with a 3-3 record or better, the national buzz will start to build.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked 11th in the country (8-2) Previous position: 11 NONE this week.
Ohio State had to cancel their clash versus Kentucky in Las Vegas because to COVID-19 difficulties. It would have been a great opportunity for the Buckeyes, who are on a four-game winning run dating back to a victory over Duke in late November, to keep their momentum going before Big Ten play starts. The game versus Tennessee Martin on Tuesday has been canceled as well. Chris Holtmann’s club now has only one game left in December, a home game against New Orleans on December 28.
12. Trojans of USC (12-0) Previous position: 12 None this week.
Although it doesn’t seem like USC has yet found its stride, the Trojans are already 12-0. Their defense is carrying them, as they’ve held UC Irvine and Georgia Tech to less than 0.90 points per possession in their two victories in the last week. Only one team has scored one point per possession against Andy Enfield’s defense this season, and it was in a 20-point victory against Utah. Although USC had its greatest 3-point shooting performance of the season on Saturday, the offense isn’t functioning as well. It may possibly have jolted Boogie Ellis out of his funk. The Memphis transfer started the season well, scoring 17.0 points per game in his first five games. He averaged only 6.7 points on 29.8% shooting over the following six games, including a 19-point performance against Utah. On the other hand, he had 16 points and seven rebounds on 50 percent shooting against Georgia Tech on Saturday. USC’s game versus Oklahoma State this week has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Seton Hall Pirates (#13) (9-1) Previous position: 13 This week, I’ll be visiting DePaul University (Thursday)
Kevin Willard’s squad saw its momentum come to a total end after a spectacular week in which the Pirates defeated then-No. 7 Texas and in-state rival Rutgers in a four-day stretch. Seton Hall had to postpone its Saturday game against Iona because to COVID-19 difficulties, and then had to cancel its Big East opener against St. John’s on Monday. In addition, if the Pirates are forced to forfeit, they will be docked a game in the Big East rankings. It won’t affect their overall record or place in the Power Rankings, but it’s clearly not how they planned to start conference play. Seton Hall’s next game is against DePaul on Thursday, which is also dealing with COVID-19 concerns.
Auburn Tigers (14th) (10-1) 14th place before. This week’s game is against Murray State (Wednesday)
The Tigers’ comeback victory against Saint Louis on Saturday served as a wake-up call. Bruce Pearl’s squad hadn’t been put to the test in about a month, when it fell in double OT to UConn. Auburn has only won once since then by less than 17 points. Saint Louis, on the other hand, punched the Tigers in the mouth on the road on Saturday. They answered in like. They came back from a 13-point hole in the second half to win by four points. The headliner was Walker Kessler, who dominated on both ends of the court. He had many easy finishes near the rim after regularly altering attempts defensively. Wendell Green came off the bench late in the game and ripped apart the Billikens’ defense, extending his outstanding performance. In his last four games, Green has 26 assists and just five turnovers. K.D. Johnson also struck a game-winning shot in the last minute. There are so many weapons on this squad, and Allen Flanigan hasn’t even returned yet.
Houston Cougars (#15) (10-2) Previous position: 16 This week’s game is against Texas State (Wednesday)
The Cougars have rebounded back impressively from their painful defeat at Alabama last weekend, winning by double digits against Louisiana and Oklahoma State this week. In both games, they also did it with some personnel concerns. Marcus Sasser and Reggie Chaney were sidelined with injuries against Louisiana, but Bakersfield transfer Taze Moore (14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) and Josh Carlton filled in well (17 points, nine boards). Moore was forced to sit out against Oklahoma State, but Sasser came back to score 15 points on four three-pointers. Moving ahead, Carlton is an intriguing element for Houston. Last season at UConn, he was one of the top offensive rebounders in the nation, and he got 14 offensive rebounds in two games last week.
LSU Tigers, No. 16 (11-0) Previous position: Waiting in the lobby vs. Lipscomb this week (Wednesday)
After victories against Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech, LSU is now ranked in the top 16 for the first time. With just one game remaining until SEC play starts, the Tigers are presently 11-0. The most important aspect of Will Wade’s club this season is defense. At KenPom, the Tigers are ranked first in adjusted defensive efficiency, first in effective field goal % defense, first in steal percentage, and first in turnover percentage, 3-point defense, 2-point defense, and block percentage. Only one club has scored more than 63 points in a game against them this season, and no team has scored more than 0.90 points per possession against them. As the schedule tightens, those stats may alter, but for now, this squad is guarding better than anybody in America.
Villanova Wildcats have dropped out (No. 15)
Waiting in the lobby
Niko Medved’s Colorado State Rams will lose out on a huge résumé-building opportunity on Tuesday, as the Rams were forced to withdraw from their planned game versus Alabama owing to COVID-19 issues. They had to reschedule their game against Tulsa as well. On the bright side, they will go into Mountain West play undefeated.
The Xavier Musketeers have an opportunity to set the tone at the top of the Big East, with Villanova appearing more vulnerable than it has in years, UConn failing to begin league play, and Seton Hall grappling with COVID-19 difficulties. And we’ll find out if they’re a legitimate championship challenger relatively fast. On Tuesday, they go to Villanova, and on December 28, they host UConn.
Friars of Providence: Don’t forget about Ed Cooley and the Friars! This is a club that has defeated Texas Tech, UConn, Wisconsin, and Northwestern, with three of the four victories coming on the road. In hindsight, Providence’s 18-point defeat to Virginia seemed strange, but the team possesses size, experience, tenacity, and is well-coached.
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The “ncaa basketball rankings top-50 2021” is a ranking of the top 50 teams in college basketball. The rankings are updated weekly and are released on Mondays.
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