What a week of college basketball.
Another No. 1 went down, an incredible buzzer beater marked the end of the showdown between the most-major of the mid-majors and tense conference battles littered the sport’s landscape.
All that action led to some change in the conference power rankings at Week 12. Read on to see where they currently stand and how your favorite league stacks up against the rest.
Gonzaga was one horrible inbound pass away from making some serious headlines at Butler on Saturday. Instead, the Zags will have to take comfort in the fact that they are still undefeated in conference play and should rack up an impressive win total by March.
But Gonzaga’s game wasn’t the only thrilling one involving the West Coast Conference this week. Saint Mary’s, behind an incredible buzzer beater by star guard Matthew Dellavedova, gave BYU its first league loss with a 70-69 victory.
The Cougars then returned the favor to San Diego and gave the Toreros their first WCC loss.
Although San Diego still has a decent record and Santa Clara bounced back with a couple of wins this week, I still think this is a three-team race with Saint Mary’s and BYU looking up at Gonzaga.
Congratulations Wichita State, you seized early control of the Missouri Valley Conference by defending home court against the mighty Creighton Bluejays.
The Shockers bounced back from their shocking (sorry) loss to Evansville this week with two wins, including that critical one against Doug McDermott and company. They are tied with the Bluejays for the time being and that season finale rematch in Creighton should be tons of fun.
Elsewhere in the MVC, Indiana State and Bradley both picked up two wins this week to stay within shouting distance of the two front-runners.
Perhaps the most welcome news of the week (unless you are a Southern Illinois fan) was the fact that Illinois State finally picked up its first league victory of the year. The Redbirds had early NCAA tournament hopes, but at this point they would be alright staying out of the conference’s basement.
I used some space here last week to basically say I didn’t believe in Mississippi.
Of course, the Rebels responded by going out and winning two more this week—albeit one in miracle fashion at Vanderbilt. They now sit tied with Florida atop the SEC standings, although Florida is clearly the better team for now.
The Gators proved their might—and just how wide the separation is between them and the rest of the league—by destroying Missouri by 31 points Saturday. Sure, the Tigers were missing Laurence Bowers, but not even the most faithful followers could possibly think he could have made up that deficit.
Alabama won twice this week and leapfrogged a Texas A&M team that is trending downwards in the conference standings.
And some team named Kentucky went 2-0 against weaker competition, but a showdown with the Crimson Tide beckons this week (yes, the fact that there are showdowns involving Alabama basketball shows how far the SEC has sunk this year).
Butler’s big victory over Gonzaga did nothing for it in the league standings, but it still made waves across the college basketball landscape and helped legitimize the Atlantic 10 as a conference to be reckoned with.
Elsewhere, perennial A-10 front-runner Xavier continued its bounce back from a rough nonconference slate with two more wins and VCU moved to 4-0 thanks to an overtime thriller against Saint Joseph’s.
Speaking of the Hawks, they now sit at 1-2 in league play despite the fact that they were considered the favorites heading into the season. Sure, the losses were against VCU and Butler, but it is still cause for concern considering the nonconference struggles as well.
Temple, another expected contender, lost to St. Bonaventure this week and now sits at 2-2 in league play.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the week was Charlotte’s 20-point loss to Richmond, which gave the 49ers their first league loss and dropped their overall record to 15-3.
I haven’t really mentioned Iowa State much in these conference power rankings, but it’s about time to give the Cyclones their due as perhaps Kansas’ biggest challenger in the Big 12.
Their only league loss was a heartbreaker in overtime against the Jayhawks, and a showdown with Kansas State looms this week. In fact, I am comfortable calling the winner of that game the second best team in this league, at least for now, after the Wildcats gave Oklahoma its first conference loss.
As for the mighty Jayhawks, they had to scrape together a late comeback against lowly Texas to remain undefeated in the league. Considering the fact that the nation’s top teams keep falling like flies, I think they will take it.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Baylor beat some team named Hardin-Simmons by the score of 107-38. That ought to do wonders for the Bears’ RPI.
Those who read my conference power rankings consistently know that as Oregon goes, so does the Pac-12 when it comes to earning the No. 5 or No. 6 spot. I think it is important for this league to have a legitimate contender outside of Arizona, and Oregon gives it just that.
The Ducks picked up an impressive victory at UCLA a mere two days after they won at USC, meaning that the conference stays put at five for now.
As for the Bruins, it looked like they were ready to turn the corner and start challenging for the league title, but a home loss against another contender hurts.
Arizona—who still has to be considered the conference favorite—beat Arizona State in its lone game this week, giving the Sun Devils two straight losses after an impressive 3-0 start.
Defending Pac-12 champion Washington took the most disappointing loss of the week at Utah. It was the Huskies' first league loss and a tough one to swallow because two of the next three are against Oregon and Arizona.
As I have mentioned before, I am of the opinion that there are no Final Four contenders in the Mountain West, but there are a lot of NCAA tournament quality teams.
The league’s depth reared its head again this week when San Diego State lost at Wyoming and UNLV fell at Colorado State. The Rebels and Aztecs were both coming off of their showdown against each other (UNLV won) and perhaps were not mentally prepared for the conference’s dangerous mid-tier teams.
New Mexico is now the only undefeated squad left in league play thanks to the Lobos' thrilling overtime win at Boise State. The Broncos, who still have to be considered a player in the Mountain West despite a rough week, followed that game up with a disappointing loss to Air Force.
Pat yourself on the back if you had Miami leading the ACC on Jan. 21.
The Hurricanes are now 4-0 in the conference after squeaking by Boston College to the tune of 60-59 this week. It’s easy to look at this Miami team as the one who lost to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State in the nonconference portion of its schedule, but the Hurricanes already count victories over Maryland and North Carolina on their resume and look destined for an NCAA tournament spot.
As for Maryland and North Carolina, the Tar Heels knocked off the Terps Saturday in a big game as far as the middle of the conference standings go. It wasn’t all bad news for Maryland though, as it upset NC State in the Wolfpack’s first game after their Duke victory.
Duke won its only game of the week against Georgia Tech, and the Blue Devils will have a chance to restore order and reclaim the conference lead this week in a trip down to Miami.
Another No. 1 fell this week and this time it was Louisville from the Big East. The Cardinals did pick up a nice win at Connecticut, but the home loss to Syracuse cost them the conference lead for the time being.
The Orange didn’t play another game this week, but a showdown with Cincinnati looms tonight. It will be interesting to see if they can continue their momentum following their impressive road win.
The Bearcats—in somewhat of a de facto see who is the best challenger to the Louisville and Syracuse combination game—staved off Marquette in overtime this week, giving them three straight wins and the Golden Eagles their first conference loss.
Elsewhere, Notre Dame took a surprising loss to St. John’s this week, and Pittsburgh picked up two much-needed victories for its NCAA tournament hopes and fleeting Big East chances.
Nobody was talking about Michigan State heading into a much-hyped Big Ten season and once again Tom Izzo is proving his worth.
The Spartans knocked off the Ohio State Deshaun Thomases Saturday to give them a 5-1 record in the league, which puts the Green and White a half-game ahead of Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Other notable results in the nation’s best league included Wisconsin’s upset of Indiana in Bloomington and the Badgers follow up effort in Iowa, where the Hawkeyes picked up a bubbleicious 70-66 win.
Michigan bounced back from its loss to the Buckeyes with an impressive effort at Minnesota, which gave the Gophers their second straight loss.
Finally, Illinois lost its third straight in shocking fashion at home to Northwestern, meaning the Illini are officially on collapse watch after falling apart down the stretch last year.
The Big Ten is going to be a dog fight all season and every week brings a number of exciting matchups that never disappoint.
This week will be no different.