Not too long ago it would be unthinkable that North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Villanova would all be out of the Top 25 in the national polls. However, that is the case this week.
There was also some movement at the top of the poll with Purdue falling from the top spot while Houston moves back to No. 1. The Cougars spent two weeks atop the polls before stumbling against Alabama.
There are some intriguing games this week as conference races start to heat up. Three of the five games featuring a pair of ranked teams come from the Big 12.
When looking at the Las Vegas odds, top-ranked Houston (+650) has the best odds to win the national title followed by Tennessee (+1000), Connecticut (+1200), UCLA (+1400), Arizona (+1400), Kansas (+1400) and Purdue (+1600).
Change at the Top
Apparently lightning does strike twice in the same place. Last season, Purdue was ranked first in the national polls and undefeated before being upset by Rutgers.
It happened again on Jan. 2 and that resulted in Houston moving back atop the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Cougars received 34 of the 60 first-place votes to return to No. 1.
— Houston Men’s Hoops 🏀 🐾 (@UHCougarMBK) January 9, 2023
Houston has won seven games in a row since a loss to Alabama. MarcusSasser is averaging 15.3 points, 3.3 assists and 2.4 steals during the streak.
Purdue fell to No. 3 but the Boilermakers did receive four first-place votes.
Defending Champions Rolling Right Along
When Ochai Agbaji and Christian BBraun headed off to the NBA and David McCormack and Remy Martin also moved on at season’s end, Kansas was left to replace four of the top five scorers off the team that won the national title.
The Jayhawks were fortunate that Jalen Wilson didn’t keep his name in the 2022 NBA Draft, because he went from being one of many scoring threats for Kansas to becoming the go-to player.
Wilson is averaging 20.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the 14-1 Jayhawks. He has eight 20-point games and seven double-doubles.
Freshman Gradey Dick and TexasTech transfer Kevin McCBullar are among the newcomers making an impact for the second-ranked Jayhawks who have three of the next four games against ranked opponents.
Kansas State, Iowa State Making a Statement
Staying with the Big 12, Kansas State and Iowa State continue to open some eyes.
Iowa State moved into the AP Top 25 poll at No. 25 and Kansas State was among other teams receiving votes.
Now K-State comes in at No. 11 and Iowa State at No. 14 as the Wildcats and the Cyclones are the two biggest risers in this week’s national rankings.
They join Kansas as the only teams yet to lose in Big 12 play.
Kansas State opened 2023 with back-to-back wins over then No. 6 Texas and No. 19 Baylor. The Wildcats shot 56.5% from the field and nearly 50% on 3-pointers. The Wildcats were listed by the college basketball odds as 8½- and seven-point favorites in the two games.
Osun Osunniyi made two free throws with five seconds left to clinch Iowa State’s 63-60 win over Oklahoma while Gabe Kalscher’s 3-pointer with five seconds remaining gave the Cyclones the 69-67 win at TCU.
There are now five Big 12 teams ranked into the top 20.
Then There Were None
With Purdue falling to Rutgers and New Mexico dropping back-to-back games to Fresno State and UNLV, there are no more men’s Division I teams with undefeated records.
The longest active winning streak is Charleston’s 15 wins in a row while UCLA, winners of 11 in a row, is the only team from the Power-5 conferences with a current double-digit winning streak.
It has made for an interesting poll with Indiana, Baylor and Ohio State among the teams falling out of the AP Top 25 poll while Kentucky and North Carolina continue to be unranked. Duke fell eight spots to No. 24 and could be the next former national champion to fall out of the top 25.
Player of the Week
Marcus Nowell, Kansas State
Nowell fell one assist shy of having four straight double-digit assist games. However, his playmaking skills is just part of the reason why he earned this nod.
Nowell had 36 points and nine assists in the Wildcats’ upset of Texas and followed that up with 32 points and 14 assists as Kansas State won 97-95 at Baylor.
Nowell has gone to the foul line 38 times over the last three games and made 34 of them as he has led the way along with Keyontae Johnson, who averaged 26 points and nine rebounds in the two wins.
Team of the Week
There are so many candidates. Alabama beat Kentucky by 26 points while Kansas State and Iowa State could both be on this list, as could Washington State after its win at Arizona.
Providence lost much of its team from a season ago and joins Xavier as the only teams yet to lose in the Big East.
Bryce Hopkins had 27 points as the Friars cruised to a 12-point win against UConn and then held off a tough test from St. John’s despite a tough shooting night from Hopkins.
Game of the Week
Alabama Crimson Tide vs Arkansas Razorbacks
- Date, time (TV): Wednesday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
During a week when there are five games between ranked teams, this SEC battle wins out over the Texas Christian-Texas, Kansas State-Texas Christian, Iowa State-Kansas and Marquette-Xavier matchups. It could be quite the week for those who bet online.
Alabama has moved into the No. 4 slot in the AP Top 25 poll with freshman Brandon Miller leading the way. He has scored in double figures in all but one game this season.
Arkansas is without freshman Nick Smith. However, Wichita State transfer Ricky Council is having a huge season.