Kentucky is rapidly making its move to the top of the charts

If we’re to study something from the newest week of NCAA Division I basketball, it could be that the idea of “energy” on this specific season is elusive.

Purdue, the No. 3 crew in final week’s rankings, flexed its muscle tissues and wrecked a really proficient Illinois crew by 16 factors on Tuesday. Two days later, the Boilermakers have been blown out at Michigan.

Duke, final week’s No. 6 crew, devastated rival North Carolina on its dwelling court docket final Saturday. Two days later, the Blue Devils fouled up the protection of a baseline inbounds play and surrendered a game-winning 3-pointer to Virginia guard Reece Beekman.

Auburn, you most likely know by now, had its 19-game profitable streak ended at Arkansas. 

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Gonzaga followers could also be laughing at these paragraphs. Nobody has come inside 14 factors of the Bulldogs since Dec. 4. That was 69 days in the past, or greater than 3 times so long as it takes to finish the NCAA Event. Chet Holmgren’s emergence from expertise to power must be a daunting warning to all hoping (or planning) to win the 2022 NCAA Championship.

Somebody’s going to need to beat these Zags, and it gained’t be simple.

1. Gonzaga  (20-2, 9-0 WCC)

The Zags play their first of two video games towards Saint Mary’s late Saturday night, though this one is at dwelling. The one obvious jeopardy left on the regular-season schedule is the two-game highway journey to the Bay Space – at San Francisco, at Saint Mary’s – that arrives on the finish of this month.

2. Auburn (22-2, 10-1 SEC)

The Tigers’ loss at Arkansas was their first defeat since they fell to Connecticut within the opening sport of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Just like the Huskies, the Razorbacks required extra time to take out Auburn. Which means the 2022 Tigers keep two distinctions no different Division I crew can match: They’re undefeated within the U.S., and they’re undefeated in regulation.

3. Kentucky (20-4, 9-2 SEC)

Some analysts – and coaches – are saying the Wildcats have all the pieces they should win a nationwide championship. Which may be true, however they nonetheless lack the kind of dynamic, full-sized wing play freshman Shaedon Sharpe may need offered if he’d been able to play as a freshman (it’s not simple to stand up to hurry, however there’s no method for us to know) or chosen to take action (he won’t, coach John Calipari introduced this week).

4. Kansas (19-4, 8-2 Massive 12)

Middle David McCormack has averaged 13 factors, 9.7 rebounds and 27 minutes over his previous three video games. In case you don’t assume that looks as if a lot, you haven’t been following KU basketball. That kind of consistency within the submit would change their ceiling for this season.

5. Baylor (20-4, 8-3 Massive 12)

When a crew struggles as Baylor did throughout an injury-riddled interval from Jan. 11-Feb. 5 – compiling a .500 file in that stretch – the temptation is to dismiss that crew as a contender and embrace others which can be taking part in higher. That was the error many people made with final yr’s Bears when the struggled after a COVID pause. How’d that end up?

6. Arizona (21-2, 11-1 Pac-12)

They’ve now gained 5 in a row since getting blasted at UCLA. It’s nonetheless exhausting to know simply how good these Wildcats are, given they’ve solely performed 5 high-end opponents – Bruins twice, USC, Illinois and Tennessee – and went 3-2 in these video games. However on paper, and at their finest, the Wildcats are one thing to see.

7. Purdue (21-4, 10-4 Massive Ten)

The priority about Purdue’s protection appeared overwrought when the Boilermakers held Illinois All-American Kofi Cockburn to 12 photographs and 18 factors, however then got here Michigan and its 82-58 smackdown of the Boilers.

8. Duke (20-4, 10-3 ACC)

Which appears extra like the actual Duke: the six victories up to now seven video games that got here by a mean of 14 factors, or the one loss by some extent that got here at dwelling on a buzzer-beater?

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9. UCLA (17-4, 9-3 Pac-12)

All people was speaking about Johnny Juzang after final yr’s NCAA Event. Most forgot about him after a middling begin to this season. He’s now put up 20 or extra factors in six of his previous eight video games, and he’s hitting 38 % on threes over that stretch. Look out.

10. Illinois (17-6, 10-3 Massive Ten)

I’d been saying for weeks the reintroduction of level guard Andre Curbelo following an extended absence (due to a concussion) and a brief absence (due to an sickness) to the Illini’s rotation most likely would result in some bumps within the Massive Ten season. In contrast to some others within the nationwide media, I imagine this crew can’t attain its ceiling until he’s absolutely operational.

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11. Windfall (20-2, 10-1 Massive East)

I’m unsure you’ll ever discover a better disparity between a crew’s achievement metrics (Friars are No. 5 in each Power of Document and KPI) and efficiency metrics (Friars are No. 44 in KenPom, No. 33 in Sagarin, No. 36 in BPI) than with this Windfall crew. However 20-2 is 20-2.

12. Wisconsin (19-4, 10-3 Massive Ten)

They’ve misplaced twice within the final 13 video games, in one of many hardest conferences in faculty basketball. Why do folks maintain telling me they don’t appear like a fantastic crew?

13. Texas Tech (18-6, 7-4 Massive 12)

Is it a much bigger thriller that the Raiders forgot methods to rating within the second half of their loss at Oklahoma – simply 25 factors within the remaining 20 minutes – or that they in some way allowed the Sooners to go for 45? In case you don’t know the reply, your punishment is to run traces for quarter-hour.

14. LSU (17-7, 5-6 SEC)

Are all the problems obvious within the Tigers’ stretch of six losses in seven video games gone now that they’ve added a seventh sport to Texas A&M’s dropping streak? Clearly not. However at the very least they’ll breathe now.

15. Houston (20-3, 9-1 American)

Coach Kelvin Sampson is doing wonderful issues with the Cougars given their harm points, however it’s not a fantastic signal that they dropped, at SMU, their first vital take a look at in AAC play. Do the 2 video games arising towards Memphis nonetheless rely in that class?

16. Villanova. (18-6, 11-3 Massive East)

Tuesday’s sport at Windfall is a good probability for the Wildcats to reassert their dominance of the convention.


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