Rauf 25: Florida State surges, Kansas re-enters latest college basketball power rankings

Big leaps from both Florida State and Kansas highlight Brian Rauf’s updated top 25 college basketball power rankings.

The biggest story of the week was the resurgence of blue bloods, yet only one of those historical powers found their way back into these college basketball power rankings.

Michigan State, Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke are all on win streaks — no, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke are not back in the projected NCAA Tournament field — as is Kansas, who pushed their win streak to five in a row. That streak from the Jayhawks, which was capped with a victory over Texas Tech on Saturday, pushed them back into the top 20.

On the flip side, only two SEC teams remain in these rankings as both Missouri and Tennessee drop out following weeks filled with disastrous losses.

Which other team made their way into the rankings? Where did Kansas end up and how high did Florida State climb? Let’s dive into the full rankings:

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25. LOYOLA-CHICAGO RAMBLERS (19-4)

Last week: 21
Games: Drake (51-50 L), Valparaiso (54-52 W)

Loyola’s loss to Drake came the day after they beat the Bulldogs by 27, and it came in overtime. The Ramblers then struggled against Valpo in what I’ll chalk up as a letdown game. But they still won! Now they need to close strong against Southern Illinois to finish their regular season.

24. Boise State Broncos (18-4)

Last week: NR
Games: Utah State (79-70 W, 81-77 W)

The Broncos swept a very good Utah State team this week and are back to looking like the best team in the Mountain West. This will be a dangerous group in the NCAA Tournament.

23. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (12-8)

Last week: 22
Games: Michigan (71-64 L)

Rutgers is the team benefitting from the Big Ten’s strength of schedule as they don’t have any really bad losses. But they now have to take care of business down the stretch as they’ll face three of the conference’s bubble teams (Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota).

22. WISCONSIN BADGERS (15-8)

Last week: 16
Games: Michigan (67-59 L), Iowa (77-62 L)

The Badgers are simply not a very good basketball team right now, though four of their five losses this month came against team ranked in the KenPom top 6. Wisconsin will need to win games against Northwestern and Purdue down the stretch to prove they haven’t totally fallen off a cliff.

21. USC TROJANS (18-4)

Last week: 19
Games: Arizona State (89-71 W), Arizona (81-72 L)

USC lost their first game in over a month on Saturday to a good-not-great Arizona team. The jury is still out on this talented Trojans team and we’ll find out a lot about them over the next two weeks when they face the other three teams in the top four in the conference (Oregon, Colorado, UCLA).

20. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (17-5)

Last week: 25
Games: Florida (75-64 W)

Arkansas secured this place in this week’s rankings with a convincing win over Florida. The Razorbacks have won seven of their last eight games going into next week’s showdown with Alabama.

19. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (14-6)

Last week: 24
Games: Iowa State (76-58 W)

The Cowboys took care of business against a bad Iowa State team. That’s important, as this group closes the season with Texas Tech and consecutive games against Oklahoma.

18. Kansas Jayhawks (17-7)

Last week: NR
Games: Kansas State (59-41 W), Texas Tech (67-61 W)

The Jayhawks return to these rankings thanks to a five-game win streak validated by the victory over Texas Tech. After all, three of those five wins came against Iowa State and Kansas State. I don’t know how much this group has actually improved, but we’ll find out this week when they face Texas and Baylor.

17. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (16-5)

Last week: 18
Games: None.

Creighton did not play this week due to COVID-19 pauses.

16. VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (14-4)

Last week: 17
Games: None

Virginia Tech did not play this week due to a COVID-19 pause.

15. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (15-5)

Last week: 6
Games: Florida State (81-60 L), Duke (66-65 L)

Virginia did not look the part this week, folks. The Wahoos were clearly overmatched by Florida State’s length, defensive pressure, and pace before losing to a poor Duke team. This is a reminder that Virginia has exactly one (1) win over KenPom top 40 team, which came at home against an unranked UNC team.

14. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (14-7)

Last week: 11
Games: Kansas (67-61 L)

Texas Tech started slow after an 11-day break between games but weren’t able to get all the way back at Kansas. They will have finished their regular season at this time next week with games against Oklahoma State and Texas on deck.

13. TEXAS LONGHORNS (13-6)

Last week: 12
Games: West Virginia (84-82 L)

Texas blew a 19-point lead in their loss to West Virginia, which would’ve been a great win for a team that hasn’t beaten a KenPom top 120 team since Jan. 9. The Longhorns close the season with tough games against Kansas and Texas Tech next week.

12. HOUSTON COUGARS (17-3)

Last week: 9
Games: Wichita State (68-63 L)

Houston might be slipping at the wrong time. They’ve lost two of their last three games against Division-I competition because of sub-par defense by their standards. The Cougars only have three regular season games left in order to right the ship.

11. OKLAHOMA SOONERS (14-5)

Last week: 14
Games: Iowa State (66-56 W)

The Sooners rolled past Iowa State in business-like fashion. Oklahoma should win their next matchup against Kansas State before closing with the series against Oklahoma State.

10. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (13-3)

Last week: 15
Games: Virginia (81-60 W), Pittsburgh (79-72 W)

Florida State is undefeated since coming back from a two-week COVID pause and looked like a potential Final Four contender with their performance against Virginia. Next Saturday’s game at UNC is the toughest game the Seminoles have left on their schedule.

9. IOWA HAWKEYES (16-6)

Last week: 13
Games: Wisconsin (77-62 W)

Iowa’s blowout win over Wisconsin was their third consecutive victory by at least 13 points. Their defense has improved slightly, but there’s still no slowing this offense.

8. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (15-6)

Last week: 10
Games: Texas (84-82 W)

West Virginia pulled off a 19-point comeback to beat Texas in Austin as five different players scored at least 14 points. That’s the kind of balance WVU has found over the last few weeks.

7. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (18-5)

Last week: 8
Games: Vanderbilt (82-78 W)

It hasn’t always looked pretty for the Crimson Tide, and that was the case Saturday against the Commodores, but Alabama emerged victorious. The win gave Nate Oats’ squad the outright SEC title.

6. VILLANOVA WILDCATS (14-3)

Last week: 7
Games: UConn (68-60 W)

Villanova bounced back from last week’s loss to Creighton with a solid home victory over the Huskies. This is probably this group’s ceiling, though, given the way they struggle to defend the perimeter.

5. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (16-5)

Last week: 5
Games: Northwestern (73-66 W), Minnesota (94-63 W)

The Illini built a big lead against Northwestern before holding off a comeback and absolutely thumped Minnesota at The Barn, which has been the toughest place to play in the Big Ten. It’s another good week for this group and another great game for Ayo Dosunmu, who recorded his second triple-double of the season.

4. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (18-4)

Last week: 4
Games: Penn State (92-82 W)

The Buckeyes extended their win streak to seven games on Thursday against Penn State. This group can jump to No. 3 on Sunday when Michigan comes to down.

3. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (15-1)

Last week: 3
Games: Wisconsin (67-59 W), Rutgers (71-64 W)

Michigan returned from a lengthy COVID pause last Sunday against Wisconsin and looked rusty in the first half. But then this group got back to normal, handled the Badgers in the second half and were never seriously tested by Rutgers. Sunday’s game against Ohio State is their biggest test yet.

2. BAYLOR BEARS (17-0)

Last week: 2
Games: None

Baylor did not play this week due to a COVID-19 pause.

1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (22-0)

Last week: 1
Games: Saint Mary’s (87-65 W), San Diego (106-69 W)

Gonzaga not only dominates teams — they make it look so, so easy. It doesn’t seem like we’ll see a change here until a potential national title game between Baylor and the Zags.

Brian Rauf
Brian Rauf

Heat Check CBB Lead National Writer



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