NCAA hoops power rankings: Gonzaga, Auburn, Kansas set pace

We call these “power rankings,” because that’s what they mean.

They are not about achievements. It helps to show one can beat substantial opponents, and that’s a fundamental component of any NCAA Tournament bracket forecast, but that doesn’t always equate to pure strength.

They are not based on anyone’s numbers or read them in conjunction.

THAN: SN’s Midseason All-America team

They’re basically an assessment of which teams seem to be moving toward being ready to win the biggest games: the teams that play with the tournament championship on the ropes, the teams that play in the tournaments. conference and of course, the teams playing on their way to Final Four.

This ranking is purely subjective and open to debate, but keep in mind that this is the rating of a 32nd Finals prep who first covered college basketball when Mike Krzyzewski in his fourth season at Duke.

Let the madness begin.

1. Gonzaga (15-2, 4-0 WCC)

It’s amazing that after hitting two NCAA title games in five seasons and hitting six sweet 16s in a row and picking up 20 wins in March Madness in that span – why are so many people still betting? question of Zags’ authenticity as a great power? What do you need to see? This is the most dominant offensive team in college basketball. They have topped 100 points in their past three games, and that includes 110 against BYU, a near-sure league contender, and a 17th-place defense in Division I. Zags are the national No. 1 in percentage terms. Effective goals, according to And here’s what’s really scary: Seven-legged freshman Chet Holmgren can still play much better than his first 16 games in college.

2. Auburn (17-1, 6-0 SECOND)

The Tigers would be #1 in this week’s AP poll if they get more support from some metric-driven voters. Honestly, the only thing I care less about than the poll is how much sushi costs at a certain restaurant. (It might be free, there’s no way I’d order it). But people have put quite a bit of effort into it. So how worthy is Auburn really? Well, the Tigers have a top 15 attack and a top 10 defense. They have a game changer in Jabari Smith who has been more successful than Holmgren but could be more of a difference maker than him. that. They haven’t faced as many harsh challenges as some of the other top 25 teams, and neither have they, as the league’s schedule requires them to play once against three of the four other top 25 teams in the competition. NET. So that means there will be more pressure to win Saturday’s home game against Kentucky.

3. Kansas (15-2, 4-1 Big 12)

Am I allowed to say Kansas is a weird team? I assume my editors will decide after I submit this. But what else to think of a team with such inconsistent central play, possibly playing 10 or 11 players on a given night, seemingly a bit reluctant to accept its current point guard, Dajuan Harris and still seem to find a way to win (nearly) every night? One of the reasons is that they have so many places to look. The other is that they are coached by one of the best in the game.

4. Baylor (16-2, 4-2 Big 12)

So we’ve seen the Bears can be beaten. Can they be defeated with James Akinjo at full power? He injured his tailbone in a home game against Texas Tech and was injured shooting 5 of 14 off the field, trying to play a game against Oklahoma State and even worse. So the Bears dropped their only two games of the season, then visited West Virginia without him and won while finally getting a high performance by striker Matthew Mayer. I was surprised that they played so well with Mayer contributing so little. If he’s ready to explode, that’s trouble for the others.

5. Kentucky (15-3, 5-1 SECOND)

There are holes in this Kentucky formation, mainly holes that should be occupied by a wing of the specified size who can control the ball. (For example, someone like Shaedon Sharpe.) But while much of this top 10 is looking for a point guard who can tear through defences, the Wildcats have two. For real. Point guard Sahvir Wheeler is an assist machine and backing partner TyTy Washington can craft his own shots – high-quality shots – more effectively than any player in the country. The only problem is the lack of premium achievements. Auburn arrived on Saturday afternoon to provide the opportunity. It’s not easy.

6. Arizona (15-1, 5-0 Pac-12)

The Wildcats crossed the Mississippi River for a game against Illinois, taking on one of the best teams in the nation and the road environment was really tough, and one might think that was enough to convince everyone that this team is a serious threat. But they have a chance to win the type of claim against UCLA and USC wiped out by the COVID pause, so they still face a lot of doubts. Given their dominance over Stanford, perhaps too much of a doubt remains.

7. Purdue (15-3, 4-3 Big Ten)

It still records the capacity rating, and none have more than the Boiler. Dealing with Zach Edey can overwhelm the opponent. Wing Jaden Ivey was playing three feet above everyone’s head. But as everyone saw in the Indiana game, Purdue’s lack of direction from a point guard can be the difference in a highly competitive game. This program has a culture of solidarity, a top priority. But who is the oncourt leader of the Boilers, the player can (figuratively) grab his teammates and shoot or tackle them?

8. Duke (14-3, 4-2 ACC)

No one else is placing four picks on the first turn on the floor, but the Devils are one of many teams battling a lack of their own first-place point guard. The absence of such a player is one reason all-American contender Paolo Banchero was able to play basically 10 minutes without a shot in the second half at Florida State – a game he played well. Attempts to address that concern will determine the Blues’ outcome in a season defined by Mike Krzyzewski’s final round around the college basketball scene.

9. Villanova (13-5, 6-2 Big East)

The Wildcats ranked 151st nationally in interception rate. They block two hits per game. Given the nature of their roster, that’s what you’d expect. The highest player in the spin is 6-8. They play winning defense by not allowing their opponents to run freely through their preferred actions, with stamina and effective counter-attacks. But it’s hard to win the biggest matches without protecting the rims.

10. Illinois (13-4, 6-1 Big Ten)

It is nearly impossible to rank the Illini precisely, because they are three different teams in 17 matches. There’s Illinois with Andre Curbelo on guard but no All-American center Kofi Cockburn because of a bogus NCAA suspension; has Illinois with Cockburn but no Curbelo because of a concussion that cost him 12 games and now, has Illinois with both and trying to figure out how Curbelo can get back into action. They have one of the highest ceilings of any team, but there’s no way of knowing when they’ll get there. Or if.

11. UCLA (12-2, 4-1 Pac-12)

The defensive effectiveness stats at show the Bruins as the 19th most effective defensively in college basketball. Is that what you are seeing? Maybe it was the lingering effect of the team’s prolonged COVID shutdown, but they allowed opponents to shoot 41.8 percent from the field and struggled to get the stops when needed. There is a lot of room for improvement.

12. LSU (15-3, 3-3 SECOND)

After winning 19 games last season and reaching the finals of the SEC Tournament by 82 points per game, the Tigers have been reinvented by coach Will Wade into an elite and precise defensive outfit. after losing to Cam Thomas and Trendon Watford. They went from 124th in terms of defensive efficiency to first place in a single season. It was like learning to sing like Bruno Mars after a few Friday nights at the karaoke bar.

13. Wisconsin (15-2, 6-1 Big Ten)

Teams pay undue attention to all-American contender Johnny Davis – and how could you not? – studying means being severely punished by Tyler Wahl.

14. UConn (13-4, 4-2 Big East)

They missed central star Adama Sanogo in four games, and gifted winger Tyrese Martin in four games. Huskies coaches were pleased to have allowed point guard RJ Cole to develop as a point guard, but it also resulted in UConn falling behind in its development. UConn dropped games they could have won, but there’s also room for improvement some of the other games on this list that didn’t.

15. Houston (16-2, 5-0 AAC)

Marcus Sasser was leading the Cougars on points before he got injured and lost the season on December 25. They have been 5-0 since then. It’s like when star guard Caleb Mills decided to move out last season after playing four games. What happened after that? Oh, that’s right: Houston made it to the Finals.

THAN: Penny Hardaway’s loss in post-game media

16. Ohio State (12-4, 5-2 Big Ten)

More than any team on this list, the Buckeyes must play with precision to excel. They have some great individual talents – hello, EJ Liddell – but no overwhelming size in the front lane and nearly everyone in the back lane is new to the program or new to basketball University. They can literally beat all the best, but fall prey to a lot of underrated opponents.

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