The new college basketball season isn’t even a week old and there have already been several upsets causing upheaval in the top 25 rankings.
Virginia, ranked No. 4 in the country, suffered a shocking loss to San Francisco on Friday just days after that same USF team had lost to lowly UMass Lowell. That was the sport’s biggest upset for just over a day because on Saturday night, Villanova (No. 2 in my rankings) was upended by a Virginia Tech team that was picked to finish 11th in the ACC.
Those results would’ve lent enough clarity to the top of these rankings, but Gonzaga also did us the favor of putting together two absolutely dominant performances that included a convincing victory over a very good Kansas team. The Bulldogs have a chance to be historically great offensively, which I broke down in depth here.
With Gonzaga tightening its hold on my No. 1 ranking, how far do Virginia and Villanova fall? Here’s my full top 25 rankings going into the second week of college basketball action:
25. SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (2-0)
Last week: NR
Games: UCLA (73-58 W), UC Irvine (77-58 W)
Many expected the Aztecs to take a step back after losing a number of starters from last year’s group, including star Malachi Flynn. They answered any doubts with a dominant win over UCLA in the opener and look to be formidable defensively again.
24. TEXAS LONGHORNS (1-0)
Last week: 25
Games: UT Rio Grande Valley (91-55 W)
There’s not much knowledge to gain from a blowout win over UTRGV other than Texas looked the part of a top 25 team. Oh, and they have a freshman who can do this:
23. OREGON DUCKS (0-0)
Last week: 23
Oregon did not play a game during Feast Week.
22. SAINT LOUIS BILLIKENS (2-0)
Last week: NR
Games: SIU Edwardsville (89-52 W), LSU (85-81 W)
I picked the Billikens to win the Atlantic 10 and they validated themselves by beating LSU without Hasahn French and Fred Thatch. This group is legit, particularly defensively.
21. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (0-0)
Last week: 22
Another team that didn’t play a game on Feast Week.
20. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (1-0)
Last week: 21
Games: Charleston (79-60 W)
UNC got off to a slow start before its highly ranked freshman class took over. I broke down their performance here.
19. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (1-0)
Last week: 20
Games: Illinois State (94-67 W)
The Buckeyes took care of business against a lesser Illinois State squad with a balanced offensive effort, as five players scored at least 10 points.
18. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (1-1)
Last week: 16
Games: Rhode Island (94-88 W), Villanova (83-74 L)
Arizona State’s high-powered backcourt was on full display this weekend. Remy Martin (26 points, five rebounds, five assists) dominated Rhode Island and five-star recruit Josh Christopher (28 points) showed out against Villanova. That said, the Sun Devils really struggled defending the interior. I break down why here.
17. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (2-0)
Last week: 18
Games: Sacred Heart (86-63 W), Fairleigh Dickinson (96-75 W)
Two games, two convincing wins for the Scarlet Knights. Star Geo Baker has only played nine total minutes, too, due to an ankle sprain he suffered early against Sacred Heart. Ron Harper picked up the slack with 30 points against Fairleigh Dickinson.
16. VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (1-1)
Last week: 4
Games: Towson (89-54 W), San Francisco (61-60 L)
Virginia looked like its dominant self against Towson only to be shredded by a red-hot San Francisco team that already has a loss to UMass Lowell on its resume. Here’s how the first major upset of the season happened.
15. HOUSTON COUGARS (2-0)
Last week: 17
Games: Lamar (89-45 W), Boise State (68-58 W)
A blowout win over Lamar isn’t anything notable, but an easy win over a good Boise State team certainly is. Houston’s defense held Boise star Derrick Alston Jr. scoreless while Quentin Grimes led the way with 25 points and seven rebounds.
14. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (0-0)
Last week: 14
No games for Creighton.
13. WISCONSIN BADGERS (2-0)
Last week: 13
Games: Eastern Illinois (77-67 W), Arkansas Pine Bluff (92-58 W)
Another team that has simply taken care of business against lesser competition, Wisconsin is ramping up for its first real test at Marquette on Friday.
12. VILLANOVA WILDCATS (2-1)
Last week: 2
Games: Boston College (76-67 W), Arizona State (83-74 W), Virginia Tech (81-73 L)
Villanova’s feel-good vibes following the victory over Arizona State came to a crashing halt against the Hokies, who simply outexecuted the Wildcats. They limited Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s impact and routinely got open looks against Villanova’s defense. Jay Wright’s group will be fine but it’s clear they need more offensive weapons to consistently show up.
11. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (2-0)
Last week: 15
Games: Northwestern State (101-58 W), Sam Houston State (84-52 W)
While Texas Tech also hasn’t played anyone of note, Mac McClung has looked like a star in his first two games for the Red Raiders. Chris Beard’s squad has also showcased an extremely deep bench.
10. KENTUCKY WILDCATS (1-0)
Last week: 12
Games: Morehead State (81-45 W)
Kentucky is breaking in virtually an entirely new roster (fewest returning minutes in the country) yet were impressive against lesser competition. They step up this week with games against Richmond and Kansas, but the raw talent of this young group really showed against Morehead State.
9. IOWA HAWKEYES (2-0)
Last week: 11
Games: NC Central (97-67 W), Southern (103-76 W)
Iowa blowing out NC Central and Southern isn’t anything noteworthy, but Luka Garza averaging 33.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game is. The Preseason National Player of the Year went for 41 points against Southern and only missed one shot.
8. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (2-0)
Last week: 9
Games: Eastern Michigan (83-67 W), Notre Dame (80-70 W)
The Spartans look like they can develop into an elite defensive team. Tom Izzo’s squad ripped off a 26-0 run against the Irish that spanned both halves and kept Notre Dame scoreless for nearly 10 minutes. That defense will be tested again Tuesday at Duke.
7. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (3-0)
Last week: 10
Games: South Dakota State (79-71 W), VCU (78-66 W), Western Kentucky (70-64 W)
West Virginia is one of a handful of teams that already has three wins and, while none of them came in blowout fashion, they were impressive regarding the competition they were facing. Miles McBride, Derek Culver, and Oscar Tshiebwe form one of the nation’s better trios.
6. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (0-0)
Last week: 8
Tennessee hasn’t played a game yet due to COVID-19 protocols.
5. DUKE BLUE DEVILS (1-0)
Last week: 7
Games: Coppin State (81-71 W)
Duke looked the part of a young team against Coppin State, turning it over 22 times, but that youth was also dominant. Jalen Johnson was incredible (19 points, 19 rebounds, five assists) as was DJ Steward (24 points, nine rebounds).
4. KANSAS JAYHAWKS (1-1)
Last week: 6
Games: Gonzaga (102-90 L), Saint Joseph’s (94-72 W)
Yes, Kansas moves up despite the loss to Gonzaga. I thought KU showed well for itself in that contest but simply couldn’t keep up with Gonzaga’s potentially historic attack. The Jayhawks showed what they can do against Saint Joseph’s when Christian Braun, one of their secondary scoring options, went off for 30 points.
3. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (3-0)
Last week: 5
Games: NC A&T (122-60 W), Chicago State (97-38 W), Ohio (77-75 W)
Illinois was some late free throws away from losing to Ohio, though I think that game was more about the Bobcats being a team to watch in the MAC — and Jason Preston being a mid-major star — than anything else. The Illini have showcased much-improved shooting chops, which heavily increases their ceiling as I discuss here.
2. BAYLOR BEARS (1-0)
Last week: 3
Games: Louisiana (112-82)
Baylor looked like a top team should in its season opener. All five guards that saw playing time recorded at least 12 points and four of them had at least four assists. They have a stacked week upcoming with games against Washington, Illinois, and Gonzaga.
1. GONZAGA BULLDOGS
Last week: 1
Games: Kansas (102-90 W), Auburn (90-67 W)
We touched on it in the open: Gonzaga appears to be head and shoulders above everyone else already. Mark Few’s squad will get a chance to prove that again on Saturday against Baylor.
Brian Rauf is a college basketball writer for HeatCheckCBB.com. His content has been featured by Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, and FanSided, among other publications. Rauf is also a current USBWA member and Rockin’ 25 voter.