Keshad Johnson, Pelle Larsson, Arizona Wildcats, Pac-12 basketball, college basketball

Two weeks into the 2023-24 college basketball season and it already feels like March. Mat Mlodzinski gives his updated Power 80.

80. DePaul Blue Demons

  • Preseason ranking: 78
  • Record: 1-3
  • Recent games: L vs. Purdue Fort Wayne (82-74), L vs. Long Beach State (77-73), W vs. South Dakota (72-60), L vs. South Carolina (73-68)

DePaul only has one win in four tries, losing back-to-back games to mid-major teams to start off the year. Turnovers are the main issue. The Blue Demons are coughing it up 15 times per game and only averaging 4.3 SPG as an entire team.

79. Louisville Cardinals

  • Preseason ranking: 64
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. UMBC (80-79), L vs. Chattanooga (81-71), W vs. Coppin State (61-41)

Louisville better thank DePaul for still being a Power 6 team for not being last in these power rankings. The Cardinals have turned into the laughingstock of college basketball, barely escaping UMBC and losing to Chattanooga by 10. You have to give new head coaches time to build their programs, but they still need to stay competitive. If the three-point shots can start falling, maybe there will be more wins in store. With Texas and either UConn or Indiana on the schedule next, I’m not overly confident any wins will come in the next few games.

78. Oklahoma State Cowboys

  • Preseason ranking: 44
  • Record: 1-3
  • Recent games: L vs. Abilene Christian (64-59), W vs. Sam Houston (85-70), L vs. St. Bonaventure (66-64), L vs. Notre Dame (66-64)

I have serious doubts that Mike Boynton will still be the Oklahoma State basketball coach by January. It seemed like this year was the make-or-break year for Boynton and it’s not looking good. The Cowboys have already lost a buy game to Abilene Christian, plus both games in the Legends Classic to two less-than-stellar teams. With Creighton coming up in a few weeks, there’s a good chance the Cowboys are just 3-4 heading into December.

77. Vanderbilt Commodores

  • Preseason ranking: 67
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: L vs. Presbyterian (68-62), W vs. SC Upstate (74-67), W vs. UNC Greensboro (74-70), W vs. Central Arkansas (75-71)

The loss to Presbyterian sticks out like a sore thumb, but it should be noted multiple key Commodores were out of the game and the Blue Hose are 4-1. Still, only four Vanderbilt players are averaging over 7 PPG. Ezra Manjon is scoring and distributing well, but Vandy desperately needs Tyrin Lawrence and Ven-Allen Lubin back on the court.

76. Georgetown Hoyas

  • Preseason ranking: 62
  • Record: 1-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Le Moyne (94-57), L vs. Holy Cross (68-67), L vs. Rutgers (71-60)

Ed Cooley wanted greener pastures in Washington D.C., but so far it’s still the same Georgetown Hoyas. Turnovers are a problem, but the Hoyas also have barely any post presence, averaging just 2.0 BPG. Fairfield transfer Supreme Cook will have even more trouble inside once Big East play starts, so the Hoyas better hope their guard play takes over.

75. LSU Tigers

  • Preseason ranking: 74
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Mississippi Valley State (106-60), L vs. Nicholls (68-66), L vs. Dayton (70-67), W vs. North Texas (66-62)

Even though the Tigers nearly got a quality win over Dayton, the Nicholls loss is like two stains in one. Matt McMahon is trying to build something in Baton Rouge and needs time, but losing non-conference games like that won’t do you any favors. In both losses, Will Baker has failed to score more than 10 points. That can’t happen if LSU wants to make any noise this season.

74. Cal Golden Bears

  • Preseason ranking: 60
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. St. Thomas MN (71-66), L vs. Pacific (87-79), W vs. CSU Bakersfield (83-63), L vs. Montana State (63-60)

My VERY bold pick that Cal could be a sleeper to watch out for this year seems to already be over. The Golden Bears have two awful losses and haven’t played consistently. The top three of Jaylon Tyson, Fardaws Aimaq, and Jalen Cone are all putting up good numbers, but wins are a different story. Not having Devin Askew in the Montana State game also played into Cal coming up on the losing end. We’ll have to wait and see what Cal can do when at full strength.

73. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

  • Preseason ranking: 80
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Niagara (80-73), L vs. Western Carolina (71-61), L vs. Auburn (83-59), W vs. Oklahoma State (66-64)

On paper, Notre Dame’s roster doesn’t look like it should beat many teams, but the Fighting Irish already have a Power 6 victory in Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are their own mess, but clearly, Micah Shrewsberry is already working some of his coaching magic. A road test at South Carolina on Nov. 28 will be a fairly even game that will show us exactly what direction this ND team is headed.

72. Oregon State Beavers

  • Preseason ranking: 79
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Linfield (82-46), W vs. Troy (81-80), W vs. App State (81-71)

An undefeated Oregon State team meets undefeated Nebraska in a very funny Saturday clash. You can’t knock a Beavers team for winning their games when so many Power 6 teams have been upset by mid-majors. You also can’t leave Jordan Pope alone. The sophomore can’t seem to miss from downtown and only has 3 total turnovers on the year.

71. UCF Knights

  • Preseason ranking: 77
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. FIU (85-62), L vs. 13. Miami (88-72), W vs. CSU Fullerton (72-44)

Jaylin Sellers is only shooting 15% from deep but averaging 20 PPG for the 2-1 Knights. A 16-point loss to Miami shows UCF still has improvements to make before Big 12 play. They only play one more Power 6 team in the non-conference and it’s Ole Miss on Dec. 10. But for a team that didn’t have much of a great outlook heading into the season, it’s not a terrible idea to tune up for once conference play begins.

70. Texas Tech Red Raiders

  • Preseason ranking: 76
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Texas A&M-Commerce (73-46), W vs. San Jose State (56-42), W vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (73-64)

Averaging 67.3 PPG wouldn’t be a cause for concern in Big 12 play, but against a trio of mid-majors, it worries me. I wasn’t high on the Red Raiders heading into the season and my opinion hasn’t changed. The team is shooting 20.6% from outside. There’s no way it stays that bad throughout the season, but it’s not a welcome sign.

69. Washington State Cougars

  • Preseason ranking: 75
  • Record: 2-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Idaho (84-59), W vs. Prairie View A&M (83-65)

The Cougars have only played two games this season but will play in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off which starts this Saturday. Another Pac-12 team that could outperform expectations, the Cougars have rebounded well and are making 54% of field goal attempts. That’s textbook basketball.

68. Stanford Cardinal

  • Preseason ranking: 59
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. CSU Northridge (88-79), W vs. Sacramento State (91-73), L vs. Santa Clara (89-77), W vs. Eastern Washington (95-70)

Stanford hasn’t played much high-level competition – the three teams they’ve beaten have a combined record of 4-8. However, they have looked very good early on. The Cardinal aren’t even turning the ball over 10 times per game and are averaging a shade under 19 APG. They’re also rebounding well and scoring at a very high level. In a loaded Pac-12, Stanford is a true dark horse.

67. Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Preseason ranking: 73
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Bethune-Cookman (80-60), W vs. UTSA (102-76), L vs. Missouri (70-68)

The loss to Missouri just sums up Minnesota basketball. The Gophers had an opportunity to stick it to an SEC opponent and completely let it slip. But it’s not time to give up on them either. Dawson Garcia is looking like he could be a dominant force this season. The collapse was brutal, but the potential to be good this season is still there.

66. Ole Miss Rebels

  • Preseason ranking: 71
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Alabama State (69-59), W vs. Eastern Washington (75-64), W vs. Detroit Mercy (70-69), W vs. Sam Houston (70-67)

Tight wins still count as wins! Ole Miss has had back-to-back wins by a single possession over mid-major squads, but 4-0 is still 4-0. Allen Flanigan seems to be enjoying his role as the number-one option on his new SEC team. The Rebels will need to improve their three-point shooting to be successful. Shooting it at just 28.6% as a team through four games isn’t going to win many more once the competition gets tougher.

65. Butler Bulldogs

  • Preseason ranking: 70
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Eastern Michigan (94-55), W vs. SEMO State (91-56), W vs. ETSU (81-47), L vs. #18 Michigan State (74-54)

The Bulldogs have impressed me early on, winning three straight games (albeit against mid-majors) by 34+ points. Then, against the Spartans, they came back down to life. Still, Thad Matta seems to be changing the culture already.

64. Boston College Eagles

  • Preseason ranking: 69
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Fairfield (89-70), W vs. The Citadel (75-71), W vs. Richmond (68-61)

3-0 Boston College meets 4-0 Harvard on Saturday. Talk about a Massachusetts basketball fan’s dream. The Eagles haven’t been dominating opponents, but they have been winning, which is the most important part of the battle. Quinten Post is living up to the lofty expectations early on.

63. Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Preseason ranking: 66
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Lindenwood (84-52), W vs. Florida A&M (81-54), W vs. Rider (64-50), W vs. Stony Brook (84-63)

Is Nebraskatball back? Keisei Tominaga isn’t even at full health, yet the Cornhuskers are still rolling past the competition. Juwan Gary looked great in his return to the court and Bradley transfer Rienk Mast is mastering the post, averaging a double-double. There’s a very good chance Nebraska is 7-0 going into a game against Creighton.

62. NC State Wolfpack

  • Preseason ranking: 63
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. The Citadel (72-59), W vs. Abilene Christian (84-64), W vs. Charleston Southern (87-53)

NC State hasn’t played a great team yet, so it’s not fair to place a big judgment on them just yet. One promising note – a different player has led the Pack in scoring each game, each time putting up at least 16 points. Having a go-to scorer is preferable, but having multiple players who can get buckets is never something a coach will turn down.

61. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

  • Preseason ranking: 48
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Georgia Southern (84-62), W vs. Howard (88-85), L vs. UMass Lowell (74-71)

A loss to UMass Lowell drops Georgia Tech down, but it’s also a 3-point win over Howard that has me scratching my head a bit. I thought Miles Kelly may be able to put this team on his back, which he is, but the Yellow Jackets just haven’t looked great overall. We’ll see if anything changes over the next four games – Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Duke, and Georgia.

60. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Preseason ranking: 54
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: L vs. Princeton (68-61), W vs. Boston U (69-45), W vs. Bryant (66-57), W vs. Georgetown (71-60)

An opening loss to Princeton isn’t really as bad as it was made out to be, especially bouncing back this week in an 11-point win over Georgetown. I think Rutgers has a lot of work to do, but a 3-1 start is solid. They will need to start shooting better, as the team is hitting about 40% of its shots right now. They also don’t have a true go-to option, which I’m never a fan of.

59. Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Preseason ranking: 61
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. North Dakota (110-68), W vs. Alabama State (98-67), L vs. #8 Creighton (92-84), W vs. Arkansas State (88-74)

Iowa’s yet to score less than 84 points in a game, and that still wasn’t enough to get a win over Creighton. It’s clear this Hawkeyes bunch can score the ball, but defending may be another issue. Valparaiso transfer Ben Krikke is off to a blistering start, averaging 20.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.0 SPG. Iowa has talent, but giving up 92 points isn’t a great sign.

58. South Carolina Gamecocks

  • Preseason ranking: 65
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. SC Upstate (82-53), W vs. Virginia Tech (79-77), W vs. VMI (74-64), W vs. DePaul (73-68)

South Carolina may not have any marquee wins, but considering how far this program has dropped since its Final Four run in 2017, Lamont Paris has them playing very well. The Gamecocks closed out two games against V Tech and DePaul, proving they have what it takes to play under pressure. Meechie Johnson is scoring at an above-average level and Ta’Lon Cooper has been chipping in all over the court.

57. Georgia Bulldogs

  • Preseason ranking: 68
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: L vs. Oregon (82-71), W vs. Wake Forest (80-77), W vs. NC Central (64-54), L vs. Miami (79-67)

Both of Georgia’s losses have been by double-digits, but they’ve also both been against two quality teams in Oregon and Miami. The Bulldogs also ground out a win over Wake Forest, which deserves some respect. While most teams have opted to ease into the season, George is going right into it. You have to respect that type of scheduling.

56. Maryland Terrapins

  • Preseason ranking: 15
  • Record: 1-3
  • Recent games: W vs. Mount St. Mary’s (68-53), L vs. Davidson (64-61), L vs. UAB (66-63), L vs. #21 Villanova (57-40)

If losses to Davidson and UAB weren’t enough, the Terps only scored 40 points in the defeat to Villanova. Maryland only had 9 assists in the loss, which believe it or not, was right on pace with their season average. Year one under Kevin Willard was promising, but year two has already been a disaster.

55. Arizona State Sun Devils

  • Preseason ranking: 47
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: L vs. Mississippi State (71-56), W vs. Texas Southern (63-52), W vs. UMass Lowell (71-69)

A loss to UMass Lowell would have put Bobby Hurley right back on the hot seat, but luckily for him, ASU made a strong second-half comeback. Still, ASU looks lost on offense, averaging a measly 63.3 PPG and shooting 37% from the floor. Defensively, you can’t count ASU out of any game, but if the offense can’t produce a little more, it won’t matter how great of defense they play.

54. Oklahoma Sooners

  • Preseason ranking: 58
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Central Michigan (89-59), W vs. Mississippi Valley State (82-43), W vs. Texas State (93-54), W vs. UTRGV (90-66)

Otega Oweh only averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.1 RPG as a freshman. Through four games, he’s posting a team-best 15.3 PPG to go along with 5.3 RPG as the Sooners are off to a perfect 4-0 start. You never know which players might improve that much in one offseason and I’m sure Oklahoma fans aren’t upset about it.

53. Seton Hall Pirates

  • Preseason ranking: 56
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Saint Peter’s (70-59), W vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (85-55), W vs. UAlbany (96-71)

The Pirates have looked increasingly better, following a bit of a scare against Saint Peter’s. Kadary Richmond is leading the team in points and assists while also averaging almost four steals per game. If big man Jaden Bediako can continue to give the team enough production inside, the Pirates can be a sleeper in the Big East.

52. West Virginia Mountaineers

  • Preseason ranking: 33
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Missouri State (67-59), L vs. Monmouth (73-65), W vs. Jacksonville State (70-57)

Bob Huggins didn’t leave West Virginia in a good place, and losing to Monmouth was a perfect example. The Mountaineers had about the craziest offseason you could imagine, and it’s probably weighed in quite a bit on the team. If they can respond on Monday with a win over SMU, it’ll be worth writing home about.

51. Cincinnati Bearcats

  • Preseason ranking: 53
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. UIC (69-58), W vs. Detroit Mercy (93-61), W vs. Eastern Washington (85-73)

Cincinnati is one of the most intriguing Power 6 teams. The Bearcats have a veteran roster, but no true superstar. Can that type of basketball hold up? The Bearcats will play their first quality opponent on Nov. 22 in Georgia Tech and we might get a better idea.

50. St. John’s Red Storm

  • Preseason ranking: 34
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Stony Brook (90-74), L vs. Michigan (89-73), W vs. North Texas (53-52), L vs. Dayton (88-81)

Had it not been for a pair of Joel Soriano free throws and some good team defense down the end of the UNT game, St. John’s could be sitting at 1-3. Remember, the Red Storm also lost an exhibition game to a non-Division I opponent. Rick Pitino’s tenure in New York City isn’t starting out great at all, but it’s still early and this team is made up of transfers galore.

49. Florida State Seminoles

  • Preseason ranking: 52
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Kennesaw State (94-67), W vs. Central Michigan (94-67), L vs. Florida State (89-68)

Before anything else, I need to point out the odd coincidence that FSU’s first two wins ended in the same exact final score. The game against Florida came close, but the other way around, with the Gators crushing the Noles. Only two Florida State players scored in double-digits in that loss and the team shot 36.4% from the field. FSU’s next five games are against Power 6 or high-major teams, so we will know exactly what Leonard Hamilton’s team is made of.

48. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

  • Preseason ranking: 41
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Elon (101-78), L vs. Georgia (80-77), L vs. Utah (77-70), W vs. Towson (71-61)

Two single-digit losses to power conference teams put a talented Wake Forest team at just 2-2. That’s not where the Demon Deacons would like to be, but it hasn’t told the whole story. Cameron Hildreth, Hunter Sallis, Andrew Carr, and Kevin Miller are playing at elite levels. Once ACC play rolls around, no one will want to play Wake.

47. Indiana Hoosiers

  • Preseason ranking: 45
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. FGCU (69-63), W vs. Army (72-64), W vs. Wright State (89-80)

Indiana’s first real test will be on Sunday as the Hoosiers play UConn at Madison Square Garden. If you ask me right now, I’m not sure if they come within 15 points of the Huskies. Kel’el Ware has been a beast, but the Hoosiers are just skating by, winning by 6, 8, and 9 over mid-majors. Indiana is also shooting 27.5% from three-point range, which won’t hold up for wins against better teams.

46. Missouri Tigers

  • Preseason ranking: 46
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (101-79), L vs. Memphis (70-55), W vs. SIU Edwardsville (68-50), W vs. Minnesota (70-68)

Dennis Gates worked some magic against Minnesota, somehow pulling out a win despite once being down 20 in the second half and not leading for the first time until 9 seconds left on a Sean East II jumper. Overall, Mizzou hasn’t looked particularly great but talk about a will to win.

45. Virginia Tech Hokies

  • Preseason ranking: 42
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Coppin State (100-55), L vs. South Carolina (79-77), W vs. Campbell (60-44)

Lynn Kidd is no kid – he’s a man amongst boys. The Hokies big man is averaging a touch under 17 PPG and 11 RPG so far. Of course, for the team, a loss against South Carolina doesn’t look great, but it’s not time to panic. The Gamecocks are 4-0 after all.

44. BYU Cougars

  • Preseason ranking: 72
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Houston Christian (110-63), W vs. 17. San Diego State (74-65), W vs. SE Louisiana (105-48)

BYU made one of the biggest jumps in my power rankings after knocking off San Diego State. Eight Cougars are averaging at least 6.7 PPG and the team is averaging – get ready – 51 RPG through three games. That includes a 42-32 advantage on the boards against San Diego State.

43. Pittsburgh Panthers

  • Preseason ranking: 51
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. NC A&T (100-52), W vs. Binghamton (89-60), W vs. FGCU (86-74), W vs. Jacksonville (107-56)

It seems that Jeff Capel may have something brewing in the Steel City. Last year was a pleasant surprise for Pitt and while the roster is completely re-loaded, it’s still winning games, and by a wide margin. We know Blake Hinson is a star but freshman Carlton Carrington has been an absolute menace so far. He’s the clear favorite for ACC Freshman of the Year early on.

42. Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Preseason ranking: 39
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Oakland (79-73), L vs. 15. Texas A&M (73-66), W vs. Merrimack (76-52)

Last year’s Buckeyes team was very young, so with the talent returning, there’s hope for a better outcome this season. Ohio State almost picked up a very big win over Texas A&M, but even in the close loss, showed some heart. Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle are leading this team early on, but the Buckeyes could use some more production deeper in their rotation.

41. UCLA Bruins

  • Preseason ranking: 38
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. St. Francis PA (75-44), W vs. Lafayette (68-50), W vs. LIU (78-58)

UCLA lost so much production from last year’s team, but Mick Cronin is still there, which leads me to believe the Bruins may shock people with their play. Still, they’ve played three low mid-major teams. That changes on Monday as the Bruins start their Maui Invitational with Marquette. Adem Bona is a game changer, but UCLA will need more than just him against Marquette.

40. Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Preseason ranking: 49
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Delaware State (79-45), W vs. Lehigh (74-65), W vs. St. Francis PA (83-53), W vs. Morehead State (74-51)

Last year’s Penn State team was senior-heavy, so with an entirely new roster and a new coach in Mike Rhoades, the Nittany Lions should feel good about a 4-0 start. This version of Qudus Wahab – who is averaging over 12 RPG – could really keep Penn State near the top half of the Big Ten.

39. Wisconsin Badgers

  • Preseason ranking: 14
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Arkansas State (105-76), L vs. #9 Tennessee (80-70), L vs. Providence (72-59), W vs. Robert Morris (78-68)

It’s almost impossible to give Greg Gard a team with more chemistry than Wisconsin. The Badgers barely lost a nickel from last year’s team that won over 20 games. However, the Badgers have lost games to Tennessee and Providence and didn’t look too impressive in a win over Robert Morris. The Badgers are shooting just around 30% from three, averaging around 10 APG, and only grabbing about 30 RPG. That’s got to change if Wisconsin is going to live up to the expectations.

38. Syracuse Orange

  • Preseason ranking: 37
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. New Hampshire (83-72), W vs. Canisius (89-77), W vs. Colgate (79-75)

Syracuse has yet to blow a mid-major team out, which is concerning. However, a 24-point comeback to beat a quality team in Colgate is something to keep in mind. The Orange have their deepest roster since the 2011-12 team that went 34-3. Are they as talented? We will get a good idea in the Maui Invitational next week. But it’s clear that Adrian Autry has a lot of players at his disposal.

37. Washington Huskies

  • Preseason ranking: 43
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Bellarmine (91-57), W vs. Northern Kentucky (75-67), L vs. Nevada (83-76), W vs. Xavier (74-71)

Keion Brooks Jr. isn’t just playing like a Pac-12 First Team player, he’s playing like a First Team All-American. Brooks leads the Huskies with 23.2 PPG and 8.0 RPG while collecting a steal and 1.3 BPG. He’s also shooting over 50% from the field and almost 40% from three. Brooks will get a chance in the NBA, but before then, he could help lead Washington to one of their best seasons in program history.

36. Florida Gators

  • Preseason ranking: 50
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Loyola MD (93-73), L vs. Virginia (73-70), W vs. Florida A&M (89-68), W vs. Florida State (89-68)

Todd Golden and Florida seem to be flying under the radar, but had they won against Virginia, the Gators would be 2-0 with two Power 6 victories. The Gators are averaging an absurd 45 RPG. The Gators need to clean up a turnover issue, but other than that, they are playing like a top-tier SEC team.

35. Utah Utes

  • Preseason ranking: 57
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Eastern Washington (101-66), W vs. UC Riverside (82-53), W vs. Wake Forest (77-70), L vs. #6 Houston (76-66)

Utah may have lost to Houston, but Gabe Madsen and co proved they can be a tough out in the Pac-12. Branden Carlson is also playing like a Pac-12 First-Teamer. Carlson is also one of three centers in the Utes rotation, creating a matchup nightmare for most opponents. On top of that, they’re shooting just under 40% from three as a team.

34. Iowa State Cyclones

  • Preseason ranking: 40
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Green Bay (85-44), W vs. Lindenwood (102-47), W vs. Idaho State (86-55)

Lots of people are confident that Iowa State is a top-25 team, and while I’m not completely disagreeing, I just want to see how they stack up against a good team. So far, they’ve yet to play anyone substantial. Still, 91 PPG and 15.3 SPG tell me that ISU can score and create havoc on defense. The VCU game on Nov. 23 should provide more insight into the Cyclones.

33. Michigan Wolverines

  • Preseason ranking: 55
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. UNC Asheville (99-74), W vs. Youngstown State (92-62), W vs. St. John’s (89-73), L vs. Long Beach State (94-86)

Let’s not forget that our very own Dan Siegel called the LBSU upset (or at least the spread). For Michigan, it’s not a great loss, but it’s also not terrible. Long Beach State beat DePaul and hung in there with San Diego State, proving they are a team to make note of. The Wolverines also already proved a bit to the haters, completely handling St. John’s at The Garden. Post-Hunter Dickinson will have its growing pains but don’t count out Dug McDaniel and Olivier Nkamhoua from making something happen.

32. Xavier Musketeers

  • Preseason ranking: 17
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: W vs. Robert Morris (77-63), W vs. Jacksonville (79-56), L vs. #3 Purdue (83-71), L vs. Washington (74-71)

The injuries to Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter will always tell the story of the Musketeers this season, but the current group of players will need to figure out how to close out games. Xavier had the lead well into the second half against Washington but couldn’t close it out. A Sunday tilt with Saint Mary’s will be crucial for the Musketeers to pick up a quality win.

31. Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • Preseason ranking: 36
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Arizona State (71-56), W vs. UT Martin (87-63), W vs. North Alabama (81-54)

Tolu Smith will be out a while, but once he does come back, Mississippi State will be a force in the SEC. They already look pretty dominant without him, winning all of their games by at least 15 points, the closest coming against Arizona State. Jimmy Bell Jr. is almost grabbing a dozen rebounds per game, so adding Smith to that mix will give the Bulldogs one of the best inside post presences in the nation.

30. TCU Horned Frogs

  • Preseason ranking: 31
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Southern (108-75), W vs. Omaha (82-60), W vs. UTRGV (88-55), W vs. Mississippi Valley State (86-52)

TCU certainly needed the light schedule to start the year. Losing a program great like Mike Miles is never easy, but Jamie Dixon is never someone to doubt. I’m not sure who TCU’s star will be this year, but Avery Anderson III and Jameer Nelson Jr. might be the most underrated backcourt in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs are also shooting it at 37.5% from downtown, which would have been a dream last season.

29. Oregon Ducks

  • Preseason ranking: 32
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Georgia (82-71), W vs. Montana (75-61), W vs. Tennessee State (92-67)

Even with N’Faly Dante out, Nate Bittle has stepped in just fine. If freshman Kwame Evans Jr. can contribute more on offense, the rest of the team has been playing good basketball. Oregon is flying under the radar a bit, but at full strength, looks like a second-weekend NCAA Tournament team.

28. Northwestern Wildcats

  • Preseason ranking: 22
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Binghamton (72-61), W vs. Dayton (71-66), W vs. Western Michigan (63-59)

I’ve been very hard on Northwestern, but I’m being gracious and not dropping them down too far in the power rankings. The Wildcats were tested by Binghamton and escaped Dayton and a winless Western Michigan squad. Boo Buie is great, but I’m not sure if the Wildcats have their Chase Audiage this season. After Buie, Brooks Barnhizer, and Ryan Langborg, the next best scorer is Ty Berry, averaging 5.3 PPG. Maybe it’s just a slow start, but it doesn’t have me overly confident in this NW bunch.

27. Kansas State Wildcats

  • Preseason ranking: 26
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: L vs. #21 USC (82-69), W vs. Bellarmine (83-75), W vs. South Dakota State (91-68), W vs. Providence (73-70)

The Wildcats took home a win in one of the best games of the season, topping Providence in overtime. Arthur Kaluma finally had a big game, dropping 18 points in the win. Depth is a major concern. Only six players had valuable minutes. But so far, no complaints on a team that lost its best players from an Elite 8 run last March.

26. Clemson Tigers

  • Preseason ranking: 30
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Winthrop (78-56), W vs. UAB (77-76), W vs. Davidson (68-65)

Clemson won the Asheville Championship and nobody is talking about it. Of course, had they beat Maryland, maybe it would be a bigger discussion, but the Terrapins might have been the worst team in that tournament anyway. If PJ Hall can play like this all season (21.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG), Clemson will be right up there with Duke, UNC, Miami, and Virginia in the ACC.

24. Providence Friars

  • Preseason ranking: 35
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Columbia (78-59), W vs. Milwaukee (79-69), W vs. Wisconsin (72-59), L vs. Kansas State (73-70)

Kim English was so close to starting 4-0 and putting the Big East on notice. I’m willing to bet a win over Wisconsin and a near win over Kansas State still as Friars fans jumping for joy, especially with Georgetown looking like the same old mess. PC has Georgia next for a chance to rebound and get a second Power 6 win.

24. Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Preseason ranking: 20
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Eastern Illinois (80-52), W vs. Oakland (64-53), L vs. #4 Marquette (71-64), W vs. Valparaiso (87-64)

I wasn’t a huge fan of Illinois coming into the season and was about to say “Told you so!” after the Illini were down 13 at the half to Valpo. Then they won by 23. Leave it to Terrence Shannon to practically prove that he really is HIM. It’s also impressive that Illinois could come back and win by that margin with Quincy Guerrier and Marcus Domask combining to shoot 3-for-16 from the field. Clearly, I was wrong about Brad Underwood’s squad.

23. Texas Longhorns

  • Preseason ranking: 24
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Incarnate Word (88-56), W vs. Delaware State (86-59), W vs. Rice (80-64)

Max Abams looks like he’s adjusting just fine, hitting over 50% of his treys early on. Kadin Shedrick also seems to have found his footing with Texas and the Longhorns haven’t had much trouble yet. If the Longhorns beat Louisville on Sunday, which they should, they might play UConn in the Empire Classic final. That would give us a great indication of how serious we should take Texas.

22. Colorado Buffaloes

  • Preseason ranking: 23
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Towson (75-57), W vs. Grambling (95-63), W vs. Milwaukee (106-79)

KJ Simpson and Tristan da Silva are a dynamic duo. With all the hype about Colorado football, I think the men’s basketball team is more deserving. Through three games, the Buffaloes are averaging almost 25 assists per game and nailing over 50% of their threes. That’s not a team you want to face.

21. Auburn Tigers

  • Preseason ranking: 25
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: L vs. #20 Baylor (88-82), W vs. SE Louisiana (86-71), W vs. Notre Dame (83-59), W vs. St. Bonaventure (77-60)

Bruce Pearl’s team took home the Legends Classic convincingly, taking down Notre Dame by 24 and the Bonnies by 17. They also came close to knocking off Baylor, which would have put the Tigers at 4-0. KD Johnson has taken his game up a level and the team just looks different – in a good way – on offense this year.

20. Villanova Wildcats

  • Preseason ranking: 10
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. American (90-63), W vs. Le Moyne (83-57), L vs. Penn (76-72), W vs. Maryland (57-40)

Losing to Penn is not the start Kyle Neptune had in mind for his season but bouncing back with a 17-point win – although not too pretty – over Maryland is a great way to earn back the trust of Nova Nation. Tyler Burton has been extremely helpful on the boards and the Cats have six or seven guys who can all score 15+ points on any given night.

19. Michigan State Spartans

  • Preseason ranking: 7
  • Record: 2-2
  • Recent games: L vs. James Madison (79-76), W vs. Southern Indiana (74-51), L vs. #9 Duke (74-65), W vs. Butler (74-54)

A 2-2 record through four games wouldn’t be a huge concern had the second loss come to Butler and not James Madison. Instead, the Spartans have been the brunt of a lot of jokes, even though in all reality, JMU is a solid basketball team. If Tyson Walker keeps up his play, Michigan State will be back inside the top ten in no time.

18. USC Trojans

  • Preseason ranking: 12
  • Record: 2-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Kansas State (82-69), W vs. CSU Bakersfield (85-59), L vs. UC Irvine (70-60)

No Boogie Ellis for the UC Irvine game, so it’s not too fair to count the Trojans out. Kobe Johnson (16 points and 8 rebounds in 1 game) and Bronny James also haven’t played. The Trojans need to limit turnovers and shoot more efficiently from outside, but all of this comes with a grain of salt until everyone is back on the court.

17. Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Preseason ranking: 13
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games:  W vs. Alcorn State (93-59), W vs. Gardner-Webb (86-68), W vs. Old Dominion (86-77), L vs. UNC Greensboro (78-72)

There’s so much talent on this Arkansas team and Eric Musselman might need a little more time to figure out rotations. Let’s put it this way: Jeremiah Davenport averaged over 10 PPG between his sophomore and senior years at Cincinnati. Early on with the Razorbacks, Davenport has only scored 11 total points and played 6 minutes against UNC Greensboro. Can too much talent actually be a problem?

16. Alabama Crimson Tide

  • Preseason ranking: 19
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Morehead State (105-73), W vs. Indiana State (102-80), W vs. South Alabama (102-46), W vs. Mercer (98-67)

In my mind, Arkansas and Alabama are always competing. They’ve both burst onto the season recently with each team hiring promising mid-major coaches. Heading into the season, Arkansas was my SEC sleeper, but Bama’s been playing like the better team. Granted, their schedule has been pretty meh, but winning by 32, 22, 56, and 31 points deserves respect while other teams drop buy games left and right. Mark Sears and Aaron Estrada might be the best backcourt in the conference.

15. Virginia Cavaliers

  • Preseason ranking: 28
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Tarleton State (80-50), W vs. Florida (73-70), W vs. NC A&T (80-51), W vs. Texas Southern (62-33)

I am all in on Virginia. The defense is classic Tony-Bennett style and the Cavaliers fought hard to get past Florida for a good early-season win. Scoring is a major concern, though. On the good UVA teams, they still had a few guys averaging around 15 points per game. Right now, the team leader is Ryan Dunn with 10.8 PPG. Reece Beekman is doing a great job at distributing, but I’d like to see the UVA star take a bigger scoring leap.

14. Texas A&M Aggies

  • Preseason ranking: 27
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Texas A&M-CC (78-46), W vs. Ohio State (73-66), W vs. SMU (79-66), W vs. Oral Roberts (74-66)

Oral Roberts gave the Aggies trouble, but one close contest shouldn’t make anyone nervous about this team. Texas A&M finished last season on fire and brought back most of the squad. They’ve already won games over Ohio State and SMU and Wade Taylor IV is living up to some people’s projections as the best guard in the SEC.

13. Baylor Bears

  • Preseason ranking: 29
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Auburn (88-82), W vs. John Brown (96-70), W vs. Gardner-Webb (77-62), W vs. Kansas City (99-61)

Baylor has admittedly been a lot better than I thought they’d be early in the season. Ja’Kobe Walter is looking like a First Team All-Freshman candidate in the Big 12 and RayJ Dennis is off to a good start at point guard. He’ll have to cut down his rate of 4.3 TOVPG, but overall, Scott Drew has another talented team in his hands.

12. Miami Hurricanes

  • Preseason ranking: 16
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. NJIT (101-60), W vs. UCF (88-72), W vs. FIU (86-80), W vs. Georgia (79-67)

One year removed from the Final Four and with a completely different duo leading the pack, Miami looks like they’re yet again one of the top two or three teams in the ACC. They’ve yet to win a game by less than 12 points and Wooga Poplar is arguably the most improved player in college basketball by the way he’s been playing. Matthew Cleveland has also benefitted from a scenery change.

11. Houston Cougars

  • Preseason ranking: 21
  • Record: 5-0
  • Recent games: W vs. UL Monroe (84-31), W vs. Texas A&M-CC (82-50), W vs. Stetson (79-48), W vs. Towson (65-49), W vs. Utah (76-66)

The Cougars have already played five games and we’ve only been playing college basketball for 12 days. Talk about prepping your team for the grueling schedule of March. Kelvin Sampson’s group put away a very talented Utah team and will look to complete a Charleston Classic Championship on Sunday against Dayton.

10. Kentucky Wildcats

  • Preseason ranking: 18
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. New Mexico State (86-46), W vs. Texas A&M-Commerce (81-61), L vs. #1 Kansas (89-84), W vs. Stonehill (101-67)

So many great freshmen are on this Kentucky team and they nearly knocked off top-ranked Kansas in the Champions Classic. Funny enough, it’s 4-star Reed Sheppard who has looked the best, scoring 13 off the bench against Kansas and hitting 7-of-8 threes versus Stonehill.

9. Creighton Bluejays

  • Preseason ranking: 11
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Florida A&M (105-54), W vs. North Dakota State (89-60), W vs. Iowa (92-84)

One of many highly ranked teams in a top-heavy Big East, Creighton showed off their offense scoring 92 points in a win over Iowa. It’s been the Trey Alexander show so far. The junior is leading the Bluejays in PPG, RPG, APG, and SPG. He’s also averaging 3.3 turnovers, but I’m sure Greg McDermott will pick his battles.

8. North Carolina Tar Heels

  • Preseason ranking: 5
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Radford (86-70), W vs. Lehigh (90-68), W vs. UC Riverside (77-52)

I’m much higher on the Tar Heels than most and so far I have no real reason to move them down. Sure, the game against Radford was close at times, but the Heels did still win by 16 and Radford only lost to James Madison by three. UNC plays Tennessee on Nov. 29, which will give us a great assessment of whether or not they are legit.

7. UConn Huskies

  • Preseason ranking: 6
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Northern Arizona (95-52), W vs. Stonehill (107-67), W vs. Mississippi Valley State (87-53)

UConn has yet to play a legitimate team, but that changes on Sunday as the Huskies have a gauntlet of a remaining non-conference slate. I can’t see Indiana pulling off an upset, but UConn will need Stephon Castle to be okay, as he is out with a knee injury. Still, Alex Karaban has taken a big sophomore leap and Donovan Clingan has been a dominant force inside.

6. Tennessee Volunteers

  • Preseason ranking: 8
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Tennessee Tech (80-42), W vs. Wisconsin (80-70), W vs. Wofford (82-61)

Tennessee is 6th in my power rankings, which is the 4th best among teams playing in the Maui. The Vols open against Syracuse in a field that is historically great. Once Zakai Zeigler gets back to 100%, UT will be a scary team to face. A lot of that is due to the success of Dalton Knect. The Northern Colorado transfer is blowing away preseason expectations.

5. Duke Blue Devils

  • Preseason ranking: 2
  • Record: 3-1
  • Recent games: W vs. Dartmouth (92-54), L vs. #12 Arizona (78-73), W vs. #18 Michigan State (74-65), W vs. Bucknell (90-60)

Contrary to the opinions, the win over Michigan State should be viewed as a major positive, especially after a narrow loss to Arizona. Duke will always attract haters, but it’s hard to knock a team with a win over a ranked team this early in the season.

4. Arizona Wildcats

  • Preseason ranking: 9
  • Record: 4-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Morgan State (122-59), W vs. #2 Duke (78-73), W vs. Southern (97-59), W vs. Belmont (100-68)

In three games against mid-major teams, Arizona has scored at least 97 points each time. In the other game, the Wildcats outlasted Duke for a major resume win. Caleb Love is shooting halfway decent and he’s one of six Wildcats averaging over 11 PPG. That list doesn’t include freshman KJ Lewis, who is also giving very quality minutes to Tommy Lloyd. The Pac-12’s best team is in Tucson, Arizona.

3. Marquette Golden Eagles

  • Preseason ranking: 4
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Northern Illinois (92-70), W vs. Rider (95-65), W vs. #23 Illinois (71-64)

I believe Marquette is a Final Four team, and after two blowouts and a win over Illinois, I think that assessment is still true. Kam Jones is scoring at an even higher level and Tyler Kolek is playing well, even below full strength. Marquette is in the Maui Invitational this week, as are the top two teams in my college basketball Power 6 rankings.

2. Kansas Jayhawks

  • Preseason ranking: 3
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. NC Central (99-56), W vs. Manhattan (99-61), W vs. #17 Kentucky (89-84)

The Hunter Dickinson experiment is paying dividends for a Kansas team that came back to beat Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Dickinson had a 20-20 game as KU improved to 3-0 before the Maui Invitational which starts on Monday. Dajuan Harris has also been unbelievable in his role, averaging 7.3 assists per game and hitting 62.5% of his three-point attempts. The craziest stat may be the fact that Kansas is averaging 27.0 APG as a team. Getting in passing lanes will be key to beating the Jayhawks.

1. Purdue Boilermakers

  • Preseason ranking: 1
  • Record: 3-0
  • Recent games: W vs. Samford (98-45), W vs. Morehead State (87-57), W vs. Xavier (83-71)

Zach Edey is doing Zach Edey things, averaging 20.7 PPG and 10.0 RPG on the year. Edey and Purdue can earn back the trust of college basketball fans next week in the Maui Invitational. It’s a loaded field, and the Boilermakers open up with Gonzaga, which almost doesn’t feel fair for a first-round matchup.

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