This week, and particularly this past weekend, was one of the best set of games we’ve had so far in this early season. Unfortunately, I was spending the week still finishing up my final projects for school and working on finals. I was able to catch a few games, and tried to watch as many as I could during a big work event this weekend, but I’ve taken time to go back and make sure I didn’t miss any notable results.

In just the fourth poll of the season, I already have a third new top ranked team. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA at home, I now have Villanova taking over the top spot after hanging around the top all season as the reigning NCAA champions. As their resume continues to improve, I also took a moment to consider Baylor at the top spot. I’d love to hear what others think of Baylor at this point in the season. Just two weeks ago I had the Bears just outside my poll and then they jumped straight into the top ten and immediately climbed to the second spot while remaining unbeaten when a handful of really good wins.

1. Villanova Wildcats

I’m a firm believer in ranking teams based on who I think would win on a neutral court at any moment in time. While Baylor has a very good resume so far, the Wildcats still have one of the best road victories over Purdue and they’re still the reigning champs. Josh Hart continues to lead Villanova and I think they’re more than deserving of the top spot.

2. Baylor Bears

Yes, Baylor wasn’t in my poll just two weeks ago. Last week they jumped all the way to number 8 and now they find themselves on the brink of the top spot. A ton of quality wins this early in the season will do that for you. So far Baylor has wins over Oregon at home, VCU, Michigan State, and Louisville in Atlantis, and most recently Xavier at home. If the Bears can keep it up, they just might be able to give Kansas a scare in the Big 12.

3. Kansas Jayhawks

The Jayhawks are still one of the best teams in the country with wins over Long Beach State and Stanford this week. Kansas is being held down slightly by their early loss to Indiana, but if the Hoosiers can keep avoiding losses to smaller in-state teams, that loss won’t look bad at all. Josh Jackson needs to keep developing as another solid option for the Jayhawks and they’ll be more than okay and ready to defend they’re Big 12 title for the 12th straight year.

4. UCLA Bruins

I didn’t get to fully assess the Bruins until last week, but one of the games I managed to catch this weekend was UCLA at Kentucky. I thought the Wildcats would certainly be able to handle the Bruins easily in Rupp Arena. TJ Leaf, Lonzo Ball, and the rest of the UCLA squad decided to prove me wrong. It certainly wasn’t Kentucky’s best showing this season but a road win against the previous top team is a big achievement for UCLA and they’re very deserving of a top 5 ranking now.

5. Duke Blue Devils

Duke got a good home win over Michigan State to start the week and followed it up with a beatdown of Maine. Luke Kennard scored 35 against Maine, but the big news was the Blue Devils finally got to see Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden take the court. They’re still waiting on Harry Giles, but Duke could potentially get dramatically better over the next few weeks.

6. Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Zags got a nice quality neutral site win over Arizona over the weekend and that gives them enough to jump fellow WCC team Saint Mary’s in my rankings. I’m still a huge fan of the Gaels, but Gonzaga has earned they’re higher spot with wins over Florida, Iowa State, and now Arizona.

7. Saint Mary’s Gaels

Saint Mary’s got a convincing road win over Stanford this week, although they weren’t able to score as well as they’re used to. It’s reassuring to know that the Gaels can take on top teams even when they have to play a slower game. No matter the tempo, the Gaels offense continues to be one of the most efficient in the country. I realize there’s two WCC teams in the top 10, but if both Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga keep winning with occasional quality wins they’ll continue to rise while others lose.

8. Kentucky Wildcats

Another top team has fallen, but Kentucky fans shouldn’t be too worried. Sure, they lost a home game which is quite rare, but they still lost at the hands of a top 5 team. A young, talented team like Kentucky, especially with a coach like John Calipari, will almost get more out of this loss than a win. They’ve gotten a loss out of the way early and will likely use it as motivation to continue to improve and become the scary dominant team that they have the potential to be.

9. Louisville Cardinals

The win over Purdue was a nice win, but Louisville let the Boilermakers start to climb back into it towards the end despite playing at home. I respect Louisville for going to Grand Canyon to play a true road game against a smaller team and the Cardinals got the good fight they probably didn’t expect, even on the road. Louisville has a few easy games over the next few weeks leading up to their December 21st matchup with Big Blue Nation.

10. Xavier Musketeers

Xavier finally suffered their first loss of the season, but being that it was to my now second best team on the road, the Musketeers remain in my top ten. With all of the losses this week, this is where the rankings started getting difficult, but with their loss being to one of the best teams, I didn’t hold it against Xavier too much. They still should be one of the best teams in the Big East to rival Villanova.

11. North Carolina Tarheels

12. Creighton Bluejays

13. Wisconsin Badgers

14. Indiana Hoosiers

15. Purdue Boilermakers

16. Virginia Cavaliers

17. Butler Bulldogs

18. South Carolina Gamecocks

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

20. Oregon Ducks

21. Florida Gators

22. Arizona Wildcats

23. USC Trojans

24. Cincinnati Bearcats

25. Rhode Island Rams

Next Five:
  • Ohio State Buckeyes
  • Florida State Seminoles
  • Iowa State Cyclones
  • Maryland Terrapins
  • Michigan State Spartans

It was hard having to miss so many good games this week, but projects should be behind me and I’m looking forward to watching plenty of basketball over Christmas break and into next semester. With my schedule finally getting cleared up, I should also finally be able to start getting more posts out other than my normal top 25 rankings and SEC Power Rankings.