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College Basketball Conference Power Rankings at Week 13

Scott PolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 9, 2016

College Basketball Conference Power Rankings at Week 13

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    Another week has come and gone in college basketball, which can mean only one thing—a handful of the nation’s top-ranked teams lost again.

    This week No. 1 Duke, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 5 Louisville, No. 6 Arizona, No. 9 Butler, No. 11 Kansas State, No. 12 Minnesota, No. 15 New Mexico, No. 17 Creighton, No. 18 North Carolina State, No. 19 VCU and No. 24 Notre Dame all fell at least once to a team that was either ranked lower or unranked completely.

    Whether you think that type of parity is good for the game or not is a matter of opinion, but it is certainly entertaining.

    Read on to see how all that chaos impacted the conference power rankings at Week 13.

No. 10: Missouri Valley Conference

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    Heading into the season the Missouri Valley Conference was pretty much Creighton and everyone else. Well, someone forgot to give Wichita State the script.

    The Shockers are alone in first place after another impressive two-win week. There are still some roadblocks along the way, but Wichita State could very well have at least a share of the conference crown locked up by the time it travels to Creighton in the season finale.

    As for the Bluejays, they suffered a surprising loss at the hands of lowly Drake this week before enacting some revenge on Southern Illinois. Unfortunately for Doug McDermott and company though, losses like that Drake one are the games that cost teams league titles in the long run.

    Indiana State and Evansville are both trying to hang in the race, but each fell to Illinois State this week, which is unwise if the objective is to keep pace with Wichita State and Creighton.

No. 9: WCC

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    Gonzaga made sure to let everyone who saw the West Coast Conference as a three-team race heading into this week know that they were wrong.

    The Bulldogs welcomed newcomer BYU to Spokane on Thursday and sent the Cougars home with their tails between their legs after an 83-63 drubbing. Knocking off a conference contender was a great way to bounce back from a disheartening loss to Butler.

    As for BYU, a pattern is starting to emerge. The Cougars have taken care of business against teams they should, but losses to Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Florida State, Iowa State, Baylor and Notre Dame seem to indicate that they are not quite capable of knocking off talented competition.

    Saint Mary’s had a necessary two-win week against San Diego and Pepperdine, while Santa Clara won both of its games against San Diego and Cal State Bakersfield to hang around for another week at least.

    It still looks like Gonzaga’s league for now unless the Gaels can take care of business in a rematch on Valentine’s Day.

No. 8: SEC

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    It’s easy to say that no team in the country has a clearer path to a No. 1 seed than the Florida Gators as they continue to dominate teams in this atrocious conference week in and week out, but Ole Miss may have something to say about that.

    The Rebels, who are now 6-0 in SEC play, squeaked out two more nail-biters this week against Auburn and Tennessee. They host Kentucky before traveling to Gainesville for the next two contests, so we are about to find out where Ole Miss really stands.

    As for the Gators, they only won their two games by a combined 52 points this week. Move along, nothing to see here.

    Missouri bounced back from its recent struggles with victories over lowly Vanderbilt and South Carolina, and Alabama took a crippling loss to Tennessee.

    Our weekly Wildcat watch brings good news and bad news to Big Blue Nation—Kentucky knocked off a pesky LSU team on Saturday but also fell to Alabama earlier in the week. The Wildcats are sitting squarely on the bubble, which should cause some angst on Selection Sunday.

No. 7: Atlantic 10

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    I thought about moving the Atlantic 10 ahead of the Big 12 this week, but VCU, Charlotte, Butler and Xavier all had a rough go of things since we last checked in.

    Of course, the argument can be made that those losses were to other conference teams, but I think it bodes better for a “mid-major” conference of the A-10’s quality to have a few strong teams on the top rather than overall parity.

    VCU and Xavier both lost two games this week, while Butler fell to La Salle before enacting some revenge on Temple. Charlotte appears to be more fool’s gold than anything else, as the 49ers got drubbed by George Washington on Saturday.

    Speaking of La Salle, it’s time to start paying attention to the Explorers, who also knocked off VCU after the Butler game and appear to be a serious contender for the league title. It would certainly be interesting if an underdog in the A-10 race ended up winning a conference filled with teams that have made a living thriving in the underdog role.

No. 6: Big 12

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    Read the SEC slide over again and replace Florida with Kansas, and Ole Miss with Iowa State or Baylor.

    The Big 12 is pretty much the Jayhawks' one-man show every single season, and after they easily knocked off potential challengers Oklahoma and Kansas State this week, things don’t appear to be changing quickly.

    As for those Wildcats, I would have seen their loss to Iowa State as a symbolic passing of the baton to the next one up in the ever-going battle to overcome Kansas if it weren’t for the Cyclones earlier loss to Texas Tech.

    I like Iowa State as an NCAA tournament team going forward, but no squad that loses to the Red Raiders is going to win this conference.

    If Baylor can win both of its games in the coming week against the Cyclones and Oklahoma, then we can start getting serious about the Bears’ chances to hang around. But for now, as always, the Big 12 is Kansas’ personal playground.

No. 5: Pac-12

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    Arizona was ranked in the Top 10 entering the week, which naturally meant the Wildcats had to lose. They did so against UCLA, which moved the Bruins into the No. 2 spot of the Pac-12 standings.

    UCLA celebrated that move up by getting steamrolled at Arizona State on Saturday.

    That means the Pac-12 is officially Oregon’s to lose at this point. The Ducks stand at a perfect 7-0 in league play and already have wins over Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA in their pocket. A two-game lead over everybody with that many head-to-head wins against potential challengers is huge.

    I threw Arizona State in there for now because the Sun Devils are playing fairly well this year. What’s more, they don’t have to play Oregon again and don’t see Arizona until the season finale, so if they are going to make a run now is the time.

No. 4: Mountain West

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    I will not feel as great about the Mountain West if Boise State continues to struggle going forward, but for now let’s leave it in the No. 4 position.

    The Broncos, who I saw as a legitimate threat a couple of weeks ago to the triumvirate of New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV, have lost three out of four, including an inexplicable defeat at the hands of Nevada.

    Perhaps Colorado State can now rise up and be the challenger to that three-headed monster in the Mountain West. The Rams split their two games this week, coming up just short in an intimidating trip to New Mexico.

    As for those Lobos, their conference record is no longer spotless after taking a 21-point beat down during a trip to San Diego State on Saturday. Given that result, the half-game lead separating Jamaal Franklin and company from New Mexico has to feel fairly tenuous at this point if you are a New Mexico fan.

    Elsewhere, UNLV bounced back from a loss to Colorado State with a win over Wyoming, and Air Force won both of its games against New Orleans and those same Cowboys.

No. 3: ACC

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    There are going to be a lot of teams in the ACC biting their nails on Selection Sunday. Barring some type of collapse, Miami will not be one of them.

    The Hurricanes thrilled Duke-haters everywhere with a 27-point evisceration of Coach K’s squad this week. Perhaps more impressively, there was no hangover on Saturday when they destroyed a quickly-disappearing Florida State squad by 24.

    Another team making a statement when it comes to the bubble is Virginia. The Cavaliers have won three games in a row, including both contests this week, and while there is still work to be done, a team that lost to Delaware and George Mason in non-conference play is at least back in the discussion.

    As for the Blue Devils, they bounced back nicely against Maryland on Saturday and should handle Wake Forest and the Seminoles in the next two. Don’t expect Duke to go anywhere, even if it is two games back in the loss column right now.

    Everyone’s favorite up-and-down team, North Carolina State, handled the rival Tar Heels (who are also feeling rather "bubblicious" right now) but fell to a bad Wake Forest team before that. The Wolfpack could beat anyone in the country, but they could also lose to anyone.

No. 2: Big East

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    All of a sudden everyone in the Big East has at least three conference losses except for two squads—Syracuse and Marquette.

    The Orange do have one blemish on that league record now thanks to Villanova and will need to bounce back against Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this week if they hope to remain in the discussions for a No. 1 seed.

    The Golden Eagles, who have been quietly going about their business after some non-conference struggles, knocked off Providence in their only game this week. However, a trip to Louisville awaits, so we will know more about Buzz Williams’ squad soon enough.

    Elsewhere, Louisville and Villanova are in completely opposite positions right now. The Cardinals are on a three-game losing streak, while the Wildcats knocked off both Louisville and Syracuse this week. After a rough non-conference slate, it’s time to start talking about Nova and the bubble again.

    The only other team that rivaled Villanova's week was Georgetown. The Hoyas knocked off Louisville themselves and also picked up an impressive victory over Notre Dame.

    Here were the results from the other (potential) contenders: Pittsburgh cruised to two easy wins against Providence and DePaul. Cincinnati lost a heartbreaker to the Orange. Notre Dame fell to Georgetown and staved off South Florida, while St. John’s beat Rutgers and Seton Hall.

    The Big East is fairly convoluted in the middle right now, but expect things to sort themselves out in the coming weeks.

No. 1: Big Ten

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    It’s basically a formality at this point that the Big Ten is No. 1 in these rankings, thanks in part to the gap between it and the rest of the power leagues in the RPI Rankings.

    Michigan will find itself on top of the college basketball world in the newest Top 25 rankings thanks to Duke’s loss and the Wolverines’ impressive victories over Purdue and Illinois.

    A huge showdown with Indiana awaits Trey Burke and company on Saturday in what will undoubtedly be one of college basketball's most important games of the regular season..

    As for the Hoosiers, they held off a talented Michigan State team, which knocked off Wisconsin previously, in Bloomington this week to tie the Wolverines on top of the standings.

    Elsewhere, Ohio State held serve against Iowa and Penn State, and Wisconsin followed up its loss to Michigan State by stunning the Gophers in the games’ final seconds. Minnesota is reeling after that loss, which marked its fourth in a row.

    It is imperative for Tubby Smith’s squad that it stops the bleeding in its next two home games against Nebraska and Iowa because February brings games against the Spartans, Badgers, struggling Illini, Buckeyes and Hoosiers.

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