The season is just getting started and there are many questions that need to be answered. Who should be in the top ten? How will this year’s bracket play out? Are we headed for a Final Four rematch on Sunday night where North Carolina can finally earn its fifth national title or does Villanova have what it takes to win their second straight championship game and make history as the first team ever to three-peat?
The “ncaa basketball power rankings 2021” is a ranking of the top college basketball teams in the United States. It was first published by ESPN on November 14, 2011.
We’re already on our third No. 1 team at the top of the rankings less than a month into the 2021-22 men’s collegiate basketball season. But it was a lot simpler this time than it was last week.
Purdue is clearly the best team in the country, and based on its future schedule, that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. The Boilermakers are now favored in each of their next seven games before traveling to Ann Arbor to play Michigan on January 11. After that, the schedule becomes tougher, but this year’s Big Ten isn’t the same as last year’s, which had two 1-seeds, two 2-seeds, another 4-seed, and six teams rated in the top 15 at KenPom.
Purdue boasts a blockbuster victory against Villanova on neutral ground, as well as good victories over North Carolina, Florida State, and Iowa on its resume.
It also checks all the boxes on the court. It possesses the country’s best adjusted offensive efficiency, ranking in the top five in both 2-point and 3-point percentages, as well as the top 10 in offensive rebounding % and the top 25 in free-throw rate. Simply stated, how can you get rid of that kind of equilibrium? Matt Painter has surrounded Jaden Ivey with excellent shooters and role players, Zach Edey and Trevion Williams are the greatest low-post tandem in the country, and Jaden Ivey is pushing himself into the discussion for a top-five choice.
Last week, Purdue was barely defeated by Duke, but there’s no need to discuss that this week. In our Power Rankings, the Boilermakers are ranked first. For the first time in school history, they’ll also be ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.
Easily the most significant event in Alabama sports in the past several days. Hours after their football counterparts defeated top-ranked Georgia in the SEC championship game on Saturday, Nate Oats’ Crimson Tide defeated No. 3 Gonzaga in Seattle, proving that they will be a force in the SEC college basketball title hunt once again this season.
In the first half, Alabama surged out to a double-digit lead and closed the first 20 minutes on a 15-2 run, which would become a pattern for the second half. After halftime, the Crimson Tide endured punch after punch from Gonzaga, who went on runs after halftime to drop the advantage to single digits, and eventually four points. Alabama, on the other hand, proceeded to answer with a few 3-pointers or a 5-0 or 8-0 run to create some space.
With 20 points in the first half, Jaden Shackelford was spectacular, and after a quiet start to the second half, he hit a couple of important baskets late in the game. At point guard, Jahvon Quinerly outplayed Andrew Nembhard, while JD Davison came off the bench to make four 3-pointers, something he has failed to accomplish this season. Alabama scored 13 three-pointers, kept Gonzaga out of transition, and put numerous bodies (and fouls) down low on Drew Timme, forcing him to fight for everything at the basket.
Last season, Aimaq was a surprise for Utah Valley, capturing WAC Player of the Year and topping the country in rebounding. He returned to the Wolverines after declaring for the NBA draft, and he might be even better this season.
He had a career-high 24 points, 22 rebounds (eight on the offensive end), four assists, three blocks, and four steals in Utah Valley’s overtime triumph against BYU last week. Furthermore, in the win, he played a game-high 44 minutes. He’s now had double-doubles in all but one game this season, guiding the Wolverines to a 7-1 start and seven consecutive victories since their season-opening setback at Boise State.
In addition, the 6-foot-11 Canadian is currently averaging 20.8 points and 14.8 rebounds per game, which is the highest in the nation.
With no Justice Sueing, Seth Towns, or Eugene Brown — and a double-digit halftime disadvantage against the nation’s No. 1 team? Ohio State seems to be unaffected.
Even though the top-ranked Blue Devils seemed to be going through the motions in the first half, they were still able to build a 13-point advantage at halftime. Turnovers were a problem for Ohio State, as were missed free throws and self-inflicted blunders. After halftime, things shifted, with Zed Key dominating in the post and EJ Liddell (14 points, 14 rebounds, six assists) making plays on both ends of the court. Chris Holtmann may have discovered another asset in Louisiana transfer Cedric Russell, who hit three three-pointers and scored 12 points in 15 minutes after playing just 23 minutes all season.
In the second half, the Buckeyes’ defense stepped it up a level, with Duke going on repeated offensive droughts. After halftime, the Blue Devils scored only 23 points on 7-of-31 shooting. Paolo Banchero’s attempts were falling short, and Ohio State kept Duke scoreless for the last four and a half minutes.
The ACC has been horrible so far this season, but Forbes has been one of the few bright spots. The only blemish on the Demon Deacons’ record is a neutral-court defeat to LSU in Florida. And, after this past week, they seem to be on track to finish in the top half of the ACC, if not much higher.
Jake LaRavia (Indiana State) and Alondes Williams (Northwestern) combined for 42 points and 16 rebounds in an overtime victory against Northwestern (Oklahoma). The game of the week was a 19-point road thrashing of Virginia Tech, who was widely considered to be a top-five ACC club. Daivien Williamson (East Tennessee State) and Dallas Walton (Southern Illinois) were two more previous transfers who led the way this time (Colorado).
Wake Forest is pushing the pace, scoring effectively at all three levels of the floor, and playing disciplined yet aggressive defense, according to Forbes. The well-traveled coach has won everywhere he’s gone, and it’s happening again with the Demon Deacons after just a season and a half in Winston-Salem.
Three groups were given questions.
Memphis Tigers: By a wide extent, this season’s most disappointing squad in the nation. After losing to Georgia and Ole Miss last week, Memphis has now lost three consecutive games and doesn’t seem to be on the verge of sorting things out. Penny Hardaway mentioned chemistry concerns after both defeats, and the Tigers have been abysmal offensively: they have 48 assists, 67 turnovers, and are shooting under 30% from three in their previous four games.
St. John’s Red Storm: Mike Anderson’s squad entered the season with NCAA tournament aspirations, and although the Red Storm may still make it, their schedule will be devoid of anything meaningful until Big East play begins. They were defeated by Kansas by a score of 20 on Friday in a game that was closer than the final score, but they are now 0-2 in their only two nonconference games this season.
Oregon Ducks: We’ve already discussed the Ducks’ troubles, but Sunday may have been a new low for them this season. They were defeated at home by Arizona State, who had lost five straight games and had scored just 29 points in a loss to Washington State earlier in the week. Oregon is already 4-4 versus Division I opponents this season, and the preseason top-25 chatter seems like a distant memory.
Purdue Boilermakers, No. 1 (8-0) Previous position: 2 This week: vs. NC State on Thursday at Rutgers (Sunday)
Purdue’s victory against Iowa on Friday was by far its poorest offensive performance of the season, with its difficulties inside the arc being the biggest issue. The Boilermakers shot 41.9 percent on 2-pointers, which is lower than their previous low of 59.4 percent this season. Iowa’s defense isn’t very intimidating at the rim, with shot-blockers strewn over the court, so what went wrong?
I went back and rewatched the game, and they generally simply didn’t have good post-up position. Due to foul issues, Zach Edey went 2-for-4 and only played 16 minutes, while Trevion Williams went 3-for-11 on 2s. When Edey touched the ball with his back to the basket, Iowa collapsed on him, while Williams was pushed further away from the rim than he preferred, forcing him to take contested shots rather than powering through defenders for easy finishes.
Duke Blue Devils, No. 2 (7-1) 1st place previously None this week.
Last Tuesday, Duke suffered its first defeat of the season when Ohio State shut down the Blue Devils in the second half and overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to win. I don’t believe there is any need to be concerned. In real road games against good teams, offensive droughts and atypical performance occur. But there’s one thing worth keeping an eye on: Duke’s perimeter shooting, something we’ve discussed previously, even when the Blue Devils were winning games.
On the season, Duke is shooting under 33% from 3-point range, a figure inflated by games versus weaker competition. Its 3-point shooting has dropped to 12-for-49 in three games against Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Ohio State (24.5 percent ). Jeremy Roach isn’t a great shooter, while Banchero, Wendell Moore, and Trevor Keels would all rather score near the rim than from the outside. Most nights, it won’t matter, but keep an eye on it when the Blue Devils are kept out of the paint.
Baylor Bears (#3) (8-0) Previous position: 4 This week’s matchup is against Villanova (Sunday)
Consider the following statistic from ESPN Stats & Information: Kendall Brown, a Baylor freshman, is the only player in Big 12 history to score at least 10 points on 60% shooting in each of his first eight games. Brown is averaging between 10 and 19 points a game while shooting 73.7 percent on 2-pointers and making four 3-pointers and 11 free throws. He’s been one of the country’s top two-way freshman.
The Bears’ schedule picks up this week, with Villanova visiting Waco on Sunday and then a trip to Oregon the following Saturday. Whether Villanova can take care of the ball against Baylor’s ball pressure and restrict the Bears’ outstanding offensive rebounders from obtaining second-chance chances will be the crucial battle versus the Wildcats.
UCLA Bruins, No. 4 (7-1) Previous position: 5 This week’s game is at Marquette (Saturday)
This season, everyone from Collin Gillespie to Marcus Carr to Andrew Nembhard to whomever is next on the carousel has been talking about who the greatest point guard in the nation is. While Tyger Campbell is unlikely to get that honor before the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, he is now playing his greatest basketball of his career and deserves to be recognized. In UCLA’s triumph against Villanova in the second game of the season, he held his own against Gillespie, hitting some key baskets late in the game. On the season, he has a staggering 30-to-6 assist-to-turnover ratio and is shooting a career-high 48.6% from 3-point range. Campbell had his greatest offensive game of the season last week against Colorado, scoring 21 points, making four 3-pointers, grabbing seven boards, and dishing out five assists.
Gonzaga Bulldogs, No. 5 (7-2) 3rd place before. This week’s games are against Merrimack (Thursday) and Washington (Friday) (Sunday)
So, what exactly is going on at Gonzaga? It’s all relative, of course, since the Zags still have blowout victories over Texas and UCLA and aren’t falling too much in the polls, but there are some things worth pondering. And, contrary to popular belief, I do not believe it is on the defensive side. Sure, Alabama scored 91 points on Saturday and Duke scored 84 two weeks ago, but they weren’t even Gonzaga’s worst defensive performances of the season when speed and tempo were taken into consideration (that came in its win over Texas).
There are several objectionable flaws, in my opinion. With Nembhard and the Gonzaga guards emerging off ball-screens, teams are becoming more aggressive, forcing them to make choices faster than they would want. Duke and Alabama both hindered the Zags’ transition options, forcing them to play in the half-court. Finally, since Gonzaga hasn’t hit the ball effectively from three, opponents are collapsing in the paint, forcing Timme to battle for whatever he gets around the basket.
Villanova Wildcats, No. 6 (6-2) Previous position: 6 This week: Syracuse (Tuesday), Baylor (Wednesday) (Sunday)
Gillespie needed a few weeks to get back to last season’s form, maybe shaking off some rust from his injury layoff, and is finally playing like the preseason All-American we all anticipated him to be. Over the first six games, he had been averaging 15.5 points, 4.2 assists, and shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range, but he was only 7-for-20 inside the arc. Gillespie, on the other hand, has found that additional gear in the previous two games. Gillespie scored 49 points in both games against Penn and Saint Joseph’s, shooting 7-for-12 on 2-pointers and 9-for-15 from 3-point range. With two big games coming up this week, one against Syracuse’s zone on Tuesday and the other against Baylor on Sunday, Gillespie’s hot run will be important if Jay Wright’s squad is to win.
Kansas Jayhawks, No. 7 (6-1) Previous position: 7 This week: UTEP (Tuesday), Missouri (Wednesday) (Saturday)
Due to his veteran-laden squad, which includes three seniors in Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, and Remy Martin, as well as one junior in Christian Braun, Bill Self has a significant edge over most opponents. Not only can all four of them get a bucket if necessary, but their on-court expertise enables Self to avoid micromanaging when an opponent goes on a run. This occurred a few of occasions against St. John’s on Friday, when the Red Storm trimmed the margin to three. Kansas replied by going on a 22-3 run to put the game out of reach. On Friday, Braun was the standout, with 31 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals. With Jalen Wilson off to a rough start after his suspension, Braun has improved his offensive game and provides Self with another reliable perimeter scorer.
Longhorns of Texas, No. 8 (6-1) Previous position: 8 Seton Hall is hosting a game this week (Thursday)
Marcus Carr has emerged from his funk. He was perhaps the greatest transfer in the portal last summer, but he failed to get off to a good start in 2021-22. He scored in double digits in his first two games of the season, but he took too long to go aggressive against Gonzaga, and he then had three consecutive games with 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Carr would have to be much more forceful on the offensive end if Texas was to live up to its preseason Final Four ambitions.
And he’s done it in his previous two games, against Sam Houston State and UT Rio Grande Valley. Against the former, he scored 19 points and four assists, while against the latter, he had 11 points, four assists, and zero turnovers. In those two games, he also went 5-for-10 from 3-point range, up from 3-for-13 in the previous five games.
Arkansas Razorbacks, No. 9 (8-0) Previous position: 9 against. Charlotte (Tuesday), vs. Oklahoma (Wednesday) (Saturday)
Devo Davis has had an eventful few weeks. Davis began 2021-22 with heightened expectations and the possibility of an All-SEC season after exploding into the national scene last season with an amazing NCAA tournament performance on both ends of the court. Then, in the opening game of the season, he had five turnovers and scored zero points on zero shots. Davis averaged only 6.3 points on 38.1 percent shooting in the first six games.
However, he looks to have awoken in the previous two games, averaging 16.0 points and shooting 14-for-20 in victories against Central Arkansas and Little Rock. He also had 10 assists and only turned the ball over twice. Eric Musselman’s team has plenty of scorers, but a healthy Davis adds a new dimension to the mix, since he’s also one of the finest defenders in the nation.
Wildcats of Kentucky, No. 10 (5-1) Previous position: 11 This week’s matchup is against Central Michigan (Monday)
Kentucky is still here mostly due to its preseason ranking, since it has yet to be challenged — or even face a top-100 KenPom team — after losing to Duke in the season opener. That’s about to change, to some extent. Kentucky will travel to Notre Dame, play Ohio State in Las Vegas, and then welcome Louisville to Lexington after Tuesday’s home game versus Southern.
For those who haven’t been paying attention since the Duke game, Kentucky’s highly rated rookie guard TyTy Washington has dramatically transformed his season. Washington was chastised after shooting 3-for-14 in his first collegiate game, but in the six games since, he has averaged 15.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from 3-point range.
The usual cautions regarding schedule strength apply, but Washington will be a major impact moving forward.
Arizona Wildcats, No. 11 (7-0) Previous position: 12 This week: Wyoming (Wednesday), Illinois (Friday) (Saturday)
Under new head coach Tommy Lloyd, Arizona has been one of the early-season surprises, and while clear improvements from players like Christian Koloko and Azuolas Tubelis are at the heart of that fast start, last season’s leading returning scorer Bennedict Mathurin is still capable of huge performances. He scored 25 points in an overtime victory over Wichita State, 15 points in a win over Michigan, and then 29 points in a road win against Oregon State on Sunday to start Pac-12 play. Mathurin’s 3-point shooting has slipped from last season, but he was the best player on the court on Sunday, going 4-for-9 from outside the arc. The Wildcats are loaded offensively with Koloko and Tubelis dominating the inside, Kerr Kriisa leading the show, and Mathurin beginning to fill it up again.
12. Crimson Tide of Alabama (7-1) Unranked in the previous ranking This week’s matchup is with Houston (Saturday)
Davison’s play off the bench in Alabama’s victory against Gonzaga on Saturday night was perhaps the most encouraging indicator. Davison, a five-star recruit out of high school, made plays mostly with his agility and open-court abilities. On Saturday night, though, he went 4-for-6 from three-point range off the bench and looked comfortable with his shooting.
Davison continues to demonstrate outstanding two-way skill, locking in on the defensive end and translating it into transition chances the other side, which is a very promising indication. He seemed to have accepted his job as the sixth man behind Shackelford, Quinerly, and NBA prospect Keon Ellis. Davison’s draft value — and Alabama’s potential — will both benefit if he can become more consistent from the perimeter.
USC Trojans (13). (8-0) Previous position: Waiting in the lobby This week: Eastern Kentucky (Tuesday), Long Beach State (Wednesday) (Sunday)
Last week, USC was on the verge of breaking into the top 16, and two Pac-12 victories, including a road victory at Washington State on Saturday, have vaulted the Trojans into the top 16. While Boogie Ellis’ scoring has gotten the most attention for the Trojans this season, Chevez Goodwin, a former Wofford transfer, has made an impact. Last season, he was a valuable contributor off the bench for the Trojans, scoring in double figures six times and starting one game.
Andy Enfield’s go-to player on the inside this season has been Goodwin. He’s shooting almost 64% from the floor, has six double-figure scoring games in a row, and is one of the nation’s greatest offensive rebounders. Goodwin led the way with 14 points against Washington State, despite the fact that the rest of the offense struggled.
Tennessee Volunteers (14). (6-1) 14th place before. against. Texas Tech (Tuesday), vs. UNC Greensboro (Wednesday) (Saturday)
While in-state foe Memphis is dealing with a slew of point guard troubles, Memphis native Kennedy Chandler is stepping up for the Volunteers. Chandler has averaging 17.8 points, 5.3 assists, and just eight turnovers in four games since suffering in the blowout loss to Villanova on Nov. 20. He has also racked up 14 steals. His highest scoring performance came against Colorado on the road on Saturday, when he scored 27 points in Tennessee’s 15-point victory.
Chandler hasn’t shot the ball well from three-point range recently, going 5-for-19, but he’s getting into the paint and finishing, all while taking care of the ball and controlling the show for an experienced Tennessee squad. This week, he’ll be put to the test against Texas Tech’s “no-middle defense.”
Spartans of Michigan State (7-2) 15th place before. This week: vs. Penn State (Wednesday), at Minnesota (Wednesday) (Saturday)
With the exception of games against Kansas and Baylor, Michigan State’s defense has been almost impregnable, allowing 0.90 points per possession or less to its other seven opponents. This features games versus Loyola Chicago, UConn, and Louisville, all of whom are probable NCAA tournament opponents. Marcus Bingham, one of the best inside defenders in the country, is one of the main reasons for the Spartans’ success on that end of the floor. He’s stopped at least six shots on three occasions this season, and his block rate is in the top ten in the country. Those in East Lansing, though, are most thrilled about his offensive development. He’s already scored in double digits six times this season, after only doing so three times in his three collegiate seasons.
Houston Cougars (#16) (7-1) Previous position: 16 This week: Alcorn State (Monday), Alabama (Wednesday) (Saturday)
Houston has won three consecutive games after suffering its lone defeat of the season against Wisconsin, extending its winning run to four games against Alcorn State on Monday. Then there’s a game versus Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where the Crimson Tide seem to have recovered their identity after falling to Iona on Thanksgiving. The outcome of the game will be determined by Houston’s ability to shut Alabama down from the outside. The Cougars have probably the strongest defense in the country, but they do allow opponents to shoot from three. In the first half against Alabama, Gonzaga struggled to keep Shackelford off the 3-point line, and Houston will have to be wary of the Crimson Tide getting hot. The return of Tramon Mark has been a benefit for Houston in recent weeks; he missed the first three games of the season but is making his way back into the lineup, scoring 22 points against Bryant on Friday.
BYU Cougars (No. 11) and Florida Gators are among those that have dropped out (No. 13)
Waiting in the lobby
Florida Gators: After losing to Oklahoma in Norman, Florida fell out of the top 16 for the first time this season. The Gators had a difficult time stopping the Sooners’ interior pair of Tanner Groves and Jalen Hill, and they shot the ball poorly from the outside. Before playing Maryland in Brooklyn, the team needs win a pair of home games against Texas Southern and North Florida.
UConn Huskies: UConn is ready to embark on a 10-game streak against opponents rated in the top 90 by KenPom. Some of them will be without Adama Sanogo and Tyrese Martin, both of whom are injured. Jordan Hawkins, who scored 15 points in 22 minutes against Grambling on Saturday, will get increased playing time as a result of this.
Iowa State Cyclones: Whether you were wondering if Iowa State’s success in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving week was a fluke, the Cyclones defeated Creighton on the road on Saturday. While the Bluejays aren’t as excellent as they have been in recent years, this is still a real road victory for Iowa State, which extends their record to 8-0. On Thursday, the Hawkeyes will face Iowa in an in-state matchup.
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The “ncaa power rankings 2021” is a college basketball ranking system that looks at the teams’ performance in their conference and how they’ve done against other conferences. The top eight teams are ranked 1-8, while the bottom eight are ranked 9-16.
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