NCAA basketball rankings: Purdue climbs to No. 2, BYU explodes to No. 10

Matt Painter, Purdue

After a tremendous showing in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, Purdue climbs to No. 2 in the latest Heat Check CBB NCAA basketball rankings.

The college hoops season is now a couple of weeks old, and our latest NCAA basketball rankings reflect that preseason expectations are melting away in favor of on-court production.

This has benefitted teams like Arizona, BYU, Purdue and Seton Hall, all of which have picked up outstanding victories and have proven to be better than we thought two weeks ago. On the flip side, teams like Michigan, North Carolina and Oregon are all falling, with the Tar Heels dropping out of our poll completely.

As a reminder, Heat Check CBB will be releasing a weekly Top 25 of our own throughout this season that is a composite of our entire staff — which includes Lukas Harkins, Brian Rauf, Eli Boettger, Andy Dieckhoff, Riley Davis, Connor Hope and Jamie Shaw. Former D-1 coach Brian Burton will also be contributing.

So, what does college basketball’s new pecking order look like? Here’s this week’s Heat Check CBB Top 25.

Rauf Report: Big weekends by Purdue and Arizona
Bracketology: Latest field of 68 projections
—DPI: Game projections | Player rankings

Others receiving votes (For reference, our T-24 teams earned 19 points): UConn (16), Mississippi State (9), Indiana (8), Xavier (3), Michigan State (1), and USC (1)

T24. Colorado State Rams

Highest vote: No. 20 | Lowest vote: Unranked

The Rams have looked like one of the nation’s best mid-major teams in the early going, headlined by a dominant victory over Creighton in the Paradise Jam. David Roddy (23.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is the real deal and leads this talented veteran squad that appeared in five of our seven polls. – Brian Rauf

T24. Auburn Tigers

Highest vote: No. 9 | Lowest vote: Unranked

Bruce Pearl’s squad played with fire against South Florida on Friday, trailing the Bulls by double digits on the road before pulling out the victory. This team is talented but young — we’ll know a lot more about them after the Battle 4 Atlantis this week. – BR

T22. Oregon Ducks

Highest vote: No. 19 | Lowest vote: Unranked

When a team as talented as Oregon gets absolutely pasted like it did in a 81-49 loss to BYU, it almost has to be viewed as one-time aberration that isn’t truly reflective of the Ducks’ potential. That said, this group has only played three games, so they were docked heavily for that performance. A rebound in the Maui Invitational (in Vegas) is needed. – BR

T22. Florida Gators

Highest vote: No. 20 | Lowest vote: Unranked

Florida cracked our Top 25 last week following a dominant performance against Florida State. The Gators followed that up this week by making it look easy against the Patrick Baldwin-led Milwaukee Panthers in an 81-45 win. Head coach Mike White has adjusted his scheme a bit this season and it’s paying dividends. Big man Colin Castleton is playing like an All-American and the transfer guards are getting acclimated. This is an elite defense. -Lukas Harkins

21. Tennessee Volunteers

Highest vote: No. 15 | Lowest vote: Unranked

Tennessee’s performances during this past week were a mixed bag. The Volunteers were thoroughly outclassed by Villanova by 18 points, but then responded with a blowout effort against North Carolina. Head coach Rick Barnes still boasts a strong defense and it appears as though junior guard Santiago Vescovi is ready for his breakout. Vescovi put up 40 points and 15 rebounds over Tennessee’s two games this week. He could be a star for this team and appears to pair nicely with the highly touted recruit and starting point guard Kennedy Chandler. -LH

20. St. Bonaventure Bonnies

Highest vote: No. 16 | Lowest vote: No. 23

St. Bonaventure looked fine during its two tune-up games to begin this season, but turned on the jets this past week. The Bonnies dispatched Boise State, Clemson, and Marquette in three straight games at the TD Arena. While they weren’t all blowout wins, head coach Mark Schmidt has to be happy with the performances of his team. SBU is an extremely balanced unit with all five starters playing key roles every single night out. Schmidt rarely turns to his bench, but that is more of a testament to the quality of his starters. -LH

19. Illinois Fighting Illini

Highest vote: No. 14 | Lowest vote: No. 25

On one hand, Illinois looked completely out of sorts in its loss to Marquette. Andre Curbelo struggled mightily as the Illini fell apart down the stretch. On the other hand, the Golden Eagles have proven to be better than expected and Illinois didn’t have All-American big man Kofi Cockburn, which is a big deal both literally and figuratively. We’ll see how much of an impact he makes when he returns to the court this week. -BR

18. Virginia Tech Hokies

Highest vote: No. 15 | Lowest vote: No. 20

Virginia Tech is yet to face a KenPom top-150 opponent. The Hokies’ best win to date came on the road over Navy, which has already taken down both Virginia and Furman. Though the strength of schedule is not on the same level as some others in these rankings, Mike Young’s team knows how to take care of business. They have dominated their opposition en route to a plus-15 bump since opening day on KenPom. Notable offseason acquisition Storm Murphy is shooting 66.7 percent from two and 45.5 percent from three. Once his assist rate balloons back to what it was at Wofford, watch out. -LH

17. Arkansas Razorbacks

Highest vote: No. 13 | Lowest vote: Unranked

The Razorbacks have not looked perfect through their first three games, yet they’ve taken care of business with three double-digit victories over lesser competition. This is another team whose schedule ramps up significantly this week, which will tell us a lot more. -BR

16. Arizona Wildcats

Highest vote: No. 16 | Lowest vote: No. 19

First-year head coach Tommy Lloyd is making his supporters look really good in the early going of this season. Arizona sits at 5-0 on the young season and recorded back-to-back wins over Wichita State and Michigan this past week. Not only did the Wildcats take down the preseason top-5 Wolverines, but they did so with relative ease, winning by 18. The Wildcats have been impressive defensively and jumped out to this hot start even with their two best perimeter shooters — Bennedict Mathurin and Kerr Kriisa — shooting a combined 24-for-73 (32.9 percent) from distance. This team is scary. –LH

15. Seton Hall Pirates

Highest vote: No. 8 | Lowest vote: No. 21

Seton Hall only played one game during this past week. However, the Pirates more than made that one count, winning on the road over Michigan. Head coach Kevin Willard’s team is looking elite defensively in the early going this season. There are concerns with how well their 3-point dominance will continue (averaging plus-22 in points off 3-pointers per game) but there’s no denying that they should remain stingy defensively. The Pirates are already getting more out of Bryce Aiken than they did last season, which is huge for their ceiling. -LH

14. Houston Cougars

Highest vote: No. 10 | Lowest vote: No. 17

Houston has quickly recovered from starting slow with an overtime victory over Hofstra. The Cougars followed that with back-to-back 20-plus-point wins over Rice and Virginia. Head coach Kelvin Sampson’s team is once again looking the part of a contender for a high seed to the Big Dance. They should be the favorites to win the Maui (or…Vegas?) Invitational this week. Marcus Sasser has been balling out to begin this season, averaging 23.3 points while shooting 12-for-25 from 3-point range. He is blossoming as the team’s star. -LH

13. Kentucky Wildcats

Highest vote: No. 10 | Lowest vote: No. 23

Following the Champion’s Classic loss to Duke, Kentucky has dominated three consecutive mid-major opponents at home, including a fairly impressive second half against a good Ohio team. The Wildcats likely won’t be tested against until a mid-December stretch when they face Notre Dame, Ohio State and Louisville. – BR

12. Michigan Wolverines

Highest vote: No. 5 | Lowest vote: No. 17

The preseason Big Ten favorite looks like a shell of itself. Michigan was dropped by Seton Hall at home before getting handled by Arizona in Las Vegas. Both of those teams had the size to match the Wolverines inside, and Juwan Howard‘s squad simply couldn’t create enough offense from the perimeter. Newcomers DeVante’ Jones and Caleb Houstan need to step up in that area. -BR

11. Memphis Tigers

Highest vote: No. 7 | Lowest vote: No. 18

Memphis has looked the part through four games, playing elite defense and getting sizable contributions from its star freshmen. Now comes the step up in competition in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Tigers are the most talented team in that field, though Virginia Tech and Xavier will make them prove it. – BR

10. BYU Cougars

Highest vote: No. 8 | Lowest vote: No. 12

BYU is 4-0 with two very impressive wins already under its belt. The Cougars leaped into our rankings last week following a victory over San Diego State. Their demolition of Oregon — by 32 points — is what propelled them up to top-10 status. Head coach Mark Pope and point guard Alex Barcello fit together like peanut butter and jelly. BYU is thriving so far despite Caleb Lohner only scoring nine points combined against SDSU and Oregon and the team shooting only 30.5 percent from three for the season. -LH

9. Alabama Crimson Tide

Highest vote: No. 5 | Lowest vote: No. 13

Alabama has a few of the most underrated victories in the country so far this season. Louisiana Tech, South Dakota State, and Oakland are all some of the top teams in their respective mid-major conferences. The Tide defeated them easily, winning by an average margin of 24. They struggled a bit with South Alabama, winning by just five, but Alabama looks great overall. Head coach Nate Oats’ fast-tempo style is creating high-quality looks around the basket and letting shots fly from distance. Noah Gurley hasn’t quite found his rhythm from three yet but should be a great fit. -LH

8. Baylor Bears

Highest vote: No. 6 | Lowest vote: No. 12

Baylor faced its first high-major competition during this past week and blew Stanford out of the water. The Bears haven’t played a tough schedule to this point (average KenPom ranking of 246.3) but are 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 34.8. Head coach Scott Drew’s team once again looks awesome, though their competition is about to experience a major uptick. LJ Cryer has gone 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) from 3-point range and his offensive efficiency is raising Baylor’s potential. -LH

7. Texas Longhorns

Highest vote: No. 6 | Lowest vote: No. 11

Loss to Gonzaga aside, the Longhorns have handled their business and should continue to do so through the next several weeks. A road test against Seton Hall on Dec. 9 lingers as their next big nonconference showdown. -BR

6. Villanova Wildcats

Highest vote: No. 4 | Lowest vote: No. 9

Villanova has looked awesome for several stretches so far this season. The Wildcats performed admirably in the first 30 minutes against both UCLA and Purdue before stumbling down the stretch. If they just figured out how to close, they would be 5-0 and in the conversation for the No. 1 spot in these rankings. Villanova is close to being among the elite of the elite and the undisputed Big East favorite. Justin Moore is taking a leap into stardom. -LH

5. Duke Blue Devils

Highest vote: No. 3 | Lowest vote: No. 9

Duke has built on its season-opening win over Kentucky with four straight convincing victories against lesser competition. Everything is leading towards Friday night’s showdown with Gonzaga, which could be a Final Four preview. -BR

4. Kansas Jayhawks

Highest vote: No. 2 | Lowest vote: No. 8

Just like Duke, the Jayhawks have dominated mid-major competition since the Champion’s Classic. Kansas should handle most of the ESPN Events Invitational field with ease, but we’re salivating at a potential matchup with Alabama. -BR

3. UCLA Bruins

Highest vote: No. 2 | Lowest vote: No. 4

UCLA’s victory over Villanova and blowout wins over three mid-majors suggest the Bruins might be the best team in the country. Tuesday’s matchup with Gonzaga will settle who deserves that title. The Bruins have a great shot given how well stars Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. have played. -BR

2. Purdue Boilermakers

Highest vote: No. 2 | Lowest vote: No. 4

Purdue looks great. It’s only a couple of weeks into the season, but this could very well be head coach Matt Painter’s best team ever. The frontcourt platoon of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams is silly good. Williams is an All-American level big man and he is coming off the bench while 3-point snipers Sasha Stefanovic (18-for-37), Brandon Newman (11-for-25), and Isaiah Thompson (11-for-20) are all doing their jobs extremely well. Jaden Ivey is a star in the making. -LH

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Unanimous No. 1

There’s not much to say about Gonzaga. The Bulldogs rolled over Alcorn State (by 27) and Bellarmine (by 42) over the past week. In traditional Mark Few fashion, they rank No. 1 in the nation in 2-point percentage and No. 5 in overall effective field-goal percentage. Sophomore forward Julian Strawther is blossoming, and his 9-for-18 3-point shooting adds significant spacing to the lineup. There are currently six different Bulldogs with at least 12.5 percent usage posting offensive ratings above 125.-LH