Rauf 25: Arkansas, Oklahoma State leap forward in latest college basketball power rankings

Arkansas and Oklahoma State both surge in Brian Rauf’s most recent top 25 college basketball power rankings.

There has generally been the same handful of teams cycling through the bottom half of the top 15 in my college basketball power rankings all season, but this week sees two new teams enter the top half.

Arkansas is red hot in the SEC, picking up five Quad 1 victories in their last five games. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is the only team that has beaten the Razorbacks in the past month and has won four in a row on their own.

There is also a shakeup in the top two for the first time all season. Michigan has replaced Baylor at No. 2 following the Bears’ loss to Kansas on Saturday. Scott Drew’s squad has not looked the same since returning from a three-week COVID pause this week. They’re shooting poorly and are out of sync offensively, both of which can be expected considering how long they were off. Baylor should be able to shake off the rust sooner rather than later, but they drop right now.

How high does Kansas rise following the win? Let’s get to the full top 25:

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25. LOYOLA-CHICAGO RAMBLERS (21-4)

Last week: 25
Games: Southern Illinois (60-52 W, 65-58 W)

Loyola-Chicago finishes their regular season with the nation’s most efficient defense, which they rode to two victories over Southern Illinois. The Ramblers have an at-large bid sewn up should they not win the Missouri Valley’s auto-bid.

24. Colorado Buffaloes (19-7)

Last week: NR
Games: USC (80-62 W), UCLA (70-61 W)

Colorado has won three games in the row, the last two coming against the other teams at the top of the Pac-12.

23. Florida gators (13-6)

Last week: NR
Games: Auburn (74-57 W), Kentucky (71-67 W)

Florida is back in the top 25 following three consecutive victories, the last two coming on the road. The Gators have a chance to make a real statement as they close the regular season with games against Missouri and Tennessee.

22. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (15-6)

Last week: 15
Games: NC State (68-61 L)

Virginia has not been a good basketball team over the last two weeks. NC State was supposed to be an easy win but, instead, UVA’s offense continued to sputter, and their defense struggled to limit the Wolfpack. The Cavaliers are running out of time to get right.

21. Purdue Boilermakers (16-8)

Last week: NR
Games: Penn State (73-52 W)

Purdue is the last team to beat Michigan State and are 9-3 in their last 12 games against a tough Big Ten schedule. This young team has shown so much promise and potential.

20. San Diego State Aztecs (19-4)

Last week: NR
Games: Boise State (78-66 W, 62-58 W)

The Aztecs have won 10 games in a row and picked up two of their biggest wins of the season in their sweep of Boise State. This is the best team in the Mountain West and one that will be dangerous in the NCAA Tournament.

19. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (17-6)

Last week: 17
Games: DePaul (77-53 W), Xavier (77-69 L)

Creighton fell on the road against a Xavier team desperate for a big win as they shot below 40 percent from three. Their last chance to make a statement comes Wednesday at Villanova.

18. OKLAHOMA SOONERS (14-7)

Last week: 11
Games: Kansas State (62-57 L), Oklahoma State (94-90 L)

The Sooners have appeared to come back to reality, going 3-3 in their last six games. I go in-depth on why I don’t trust Oklahoma here.

17. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (15-5)

Last week: 16
Games: Georgia Tech (69-53 L), Wake Forest (84-46 W)

Virginia Tech lost to the Yellow Jackets in their first game back from a 17-day COVID pause, which could be expected given the length of time the Hokies were off the court. Bouncing back the way they did against Wake Forest was a great sign.

16. TEXAS LONGHORNS (14-7)

Last week: 13
Games: Kansas (75-72 W), Texas Tech (68-59 L)

Texas has struggled recently, going 3-5 over their last eight games, which is why their win over the Jayhawks on Tuesday was huge. The Longhorns play three road games to close their regular season but only one (Oklahoma) is against an NCAA Tournament team.

15. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (15-8)

Last week: 14
Games: Oklahoma State (74-69 L), Texas (68-59 W)

Texas Tech snapped a three-game losing streak with their win over the Longhorns as they had five players score in double figures.

14. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (14-4)

Last week: 10
Games: Miami (88-71 W), North Carolina (78-70 L)

Florida State’s best is really, really good, but they don’t bring it all the time. It’s impossible to not be disappointed with the loss to the Tar Heels considering the Seminoles led by 17 at one point.

13. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (19-5)

Last week: 20
Games: Alabama (81-66 W), LSU (83-75 W)

Is anyone as hot as Arkansas right now? The Razorbacks have won nine of their last 10 — the only loss came at Oklahoma State — and have picked up five Quad 1 wins in their last five games.

12. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (16-6)

Last week: 19
Games: Texas Tech (74-69 W), Oklahoma (94-90 W)

The Cowboys picked up a pair of overtime wins against top 15 teams this week, two huge results for a talented team that now has some real momentum. We’ll find out just how good they are when they close their season at Baylor and at West Virginia.

11. KANSAS JAYHAWKS (18-8)

Last week: 18
Games: Texas (75-72 L), Baylor (71-58 W)

How about those Jayhawks, huh? Kansas gets a big leap despite losing because ending a team’s undefeated season at this point deserves credit. David McCormack continues to blossom, giving the Jayhawks a go-to offensive threat inside.

10. IOWA HAWKEYES (17-7)

Last week: 9
Games: Penn State (74-68 W), Michigan (79-57 L)

Losing to Michigan isn’t anything to hang your head about, but Iowa simply didn’t have any answers for the Wolverines in the second half. Sunday’s game at Ohio State is their last chance to make a real statement before the postseason.

9. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (19-6)

Last week: 7
Games: Arkansas (81-66 L), Mississippi State (64-59 W)

Alabama’s win over Mississippi State clinched the Crimson Tide at least a share of the SEC regular season title for the first time since 2002. Nate Oats’ squad isn’t clicking like they were in January, but this is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

8. HOUSTON COUGARS (19-3)

Last week: 12
Games: Cincinnati (90-52 W), Western Kentucky (81-57 W)

Houston bounced back from their loss to Wichita State with a pair of huge victories, including one over a good Western Kentucky team. It looks like this group is back in their groove.

7. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (18-6)

Last week: 5
Games: Michigan State (81-72 L), Nebraska (86-70 W), Wisconsin (74-69 W)

The Illini have only lost once since Jan. 16, which came this week against a red-hot Michigan State team. They won their last two games without National Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu. Up next are their two toughest games of the season: at Michigan and at Ohio State.

6. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (17-6)

Last week: 8
Games: TCU (74-66 W), Kansas State (65-43 W)

West Virginia has won six of their last seven games with their only loss coming to Oklahoma in double overtime. The Mountaineers had an easier schedule this week but managed to take care of business. Tuesday’s matchup with Baylor should be thrilling.

5. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (18-6)

Last week: 4
Games: Michigan (92-87 L), Michigan State (71-67 L)

Ohio State deserves credit for going toe-to-toe with Michigan despite the loss. However, they drop because of the loss to a surging Michigan State squad.

4. VILLANOVA WILDCATS (15-3)

Last week: 6
Games: St. John’s (81-58 W)

Villanova avenged their earlier loss to the Johnnies in resounding fashion. The Wildcats have put forth two of their best defensive efforts in their last two games, which has helped stabilized their level of play.

3. BAYLOR BEARS (18-1)

Last week: 2
Games: Iowa State (77-72 W), Kansas (71-58 L)

Baylor falls from the No. 2 spot following their loss to Kansas. As mentioned previously, the Bears are still trying to get back on track after a three-week COVID pause, and I think they’ll get back to looking like themselves before long. But right now, Michigan is playing better.

2. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (18-1)

Last week: 3
Games: Ohio State (92-87 W), Iowa (79-57 W), Indiana (73-57 W)

The Wolverines have put themselves in college basketball’s top tier following dominant wins over top 10 teams in Ohio State and Iowa, plus passing a tough road test at Indiana with flying colors.

1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (24-0)

Last week: 1
Games: Santa Clara (89-75 W), Loyola Marymount (86-69 W)

The lone undefeated team in the country now, Gonzaga finished their regular season with a pair of blowouts.

Brian Rauf
Brian Rauf

Heat Check CBB Lead National Writer



Categories: Rankings

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