That’s all that’s left until the NCAA Tournament tips off. Six weeks.
And as we get closer to that date, teams are starting to separate themselves, and show who belongs and who doesn’t.
So while we say goodbye to some familiar faces (it was fun knowing you UConn and North Carolina), it’s time to say hello to a few more.
Which is exactly what we do in this week’s Power Rankings, as we welcome not only a new No. 1 ranked team, but also two new teams that have come to command our respect…
1. Kansas (20-1, 6-0): Wow, wow, wow. The Jayhawks jumped Villanova back to the top of this poll after an unbelievable road win Saturday night against No. 10 Kansas State. Everything that we expected from Kansas earlier this year is slowly coming to fruition, as they’ve won six straight.
2. Villanova (19-1, 8-0): It was a nice, easy, breezy week on the Main Line, as Villanova had just one game, and dominated in a victory over Notre Dame. The task will be much more difficult this week, with Seton Hall at home, and a visit to scorching hot Georgetown Saturday afternoon.
3. Syracuse (21-1, 8-1): Yes, the Orange struggled at DePaul Saturday, but that shouldn’t take away from their total dismantling of Georgetown on Monday night either. This crew is the most unselfish, enjoyable team to watch that we’ve seen in college basketball for some time.
4. Michigan State (19-3, 9-0): Just another week and two more wins for Tom Izzo and the Spartans in East Lansing. But now to the tough part: Can they go to Wisconsin and pull out a victory at the Kohl Center, a place where Duke, Ohio State and Purdue (amongst others) have already lost this year?
5. Kentucky (20-1, 5-1): LeBron James- the King himself- was in Rupp Arena Saturday afternoon, to watch the Wildcats pick apart Vanderbilt, one of the most underrated teams in college basketball. But with John Wall’s recent complaints about coach John Calipari, which way is this team headed as we creep toward March?
6. Georgetown (16-4, 6-3): Don’t let the Hoyas loss to Syracuse Monday night fool you, this team is getting better and better every game. If you don’t believe me, just ask their newest fan, United States President Barack Obama, who was in attendance for their win over Duke on Saturday.
7. West Virginia (17-3, 6-2): Four Big East teams in the top eight? Well after West Virginia’s hard fought, come from behind over Louisville Saturday afternoon, why not?
8. Purdue (18-3, 6-3): Whatever ailed the Boilermakers during their three game swoon earlier in the season seems to be solved, as they’ve now won four games in a row. After a visit to Indiana this week, we get the game everyone’s been waiting for, Purdue’s visit to Michigan State on February 9.
9. Texas (18-3, 4-2): Does Texas have its problems? Absolutely. But their loss to Baylor on Saturday isn’t nearly as bad as it looks either. Baylor may be the most underrated team in college basketball.
10. Kansas State (16-4, 4-3): The Wildcats won the game they were supposed to earlier in the week, but couldn’t hold on to beat top ranked Kansas at home Saturday. As much as things change, they stay the same; Kansas is now 31-2 against Kansas State since the inception of the Big XII conference in 1996.
11. Duke (17-4, 5-2): So are we ready to pull the plug on Duke yet? The Blue Devils failed another test on a national stage, getting run out of the Verizon Center by Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.
12. Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3): Everyone knew it was going to be tough for the Badgers to go to Purdue and get a win without Jon Leuer, and as much as Wisconsin battled, they still feel short by three points. With that loss, it makes it all the more important for them to hold serve Tuesday, when they welcome visiting Michigan State to Madison.
13. Tennessee (16-4, 4-2): There’s no nice way to put it: The Vols looked like they ran out of gas in a loss to Vanderbilt, and in a narrow win over Florida this past week. What’s the prescription for this tired team? How about a game against LSU coming up, an opponent which has yet to win a conference game.
14. Brigham Young (21-2, 6-1): Hoops Addict warned you last week about BYU’s trip to the Pit at New Mexico, and on the cue, the Cougars limped out with a loss Wednesday night. With a visit to UNLV this coming Saturday, things don’t get any easier.
15. Ohio State (16-6, 6-3): Now fully healthy, the Buckeyes are coming on strong late in the season, getting wins against Iowa and Minnesota. And while the John Wall hype machine is still in full gear, it’s Evan Turner who should have your National Player of the Year vote. He’s got mine.
16. Temple (18-4, 6-1): Here’s the bad news: The Owls haven’t been playing their best basketball of late, losing to Charlotte last Wednesday. Here’s the good news: The loss drops them to 18-4 and 6-1 in the Atlantic 10. How many teams would love to change places with them right now?
17. Georgia Tech (16-5, 4-3): Quiet week for the Yellow Jackets, as they beat Wake Forest and some school named Kentucky State in the past seven days. It won’t be quite as easy Wednesday night, when they a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke.
18. Baylor (16-4, 3-3): Please do yourself a favor and watch Baylor the next time they’re on TV. The Bears are athletic, skilled and the best team you don’t know about…Yet.
19. Vanderbilt (16-4, 5-1): Yes the Commodores looked pretty bad against Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. But that shouldn’t take away from their performance the rest of the season, as they’ve already beaten Tennessee and South Carolina in conference play. Quite frankly, Vanderbilt making the Power Rankings for the first time this season has been nothing short of an oversight.
20. Gonzaga (17-4, 6-1): If you’ve been following Gonzaga’s wayward past few games in the West Coast Conference, you probably weren’t surprised that they slipped up against the University of San Francisco Saturday night. Still, San Francisco?
New to the Power Rankings: Baylor, Vanderbilt
Dropping Out: UConn, Pittsburgh