Siler’s Selections (21-22) Week 1


via 247 Sports

Matthew Siler, College Basketball Reporter

After 221 days without college basketball (and an even longer hiatus without fans), the excitement for this season could not be greater. While the first week of college basketball tends to be the most tame (unless it’s November of 2019, where THREE number one teams fell in the same month) while simultaneously giving analysts the hardest time trying to rank opponents. Some teams struggle in November and others don’t, and there really isn’t a clear way to decipher who will continue to succeed. I’ve done my best to incorporate preseason hype as well as first week results to create what I believe to be the top 25 teams in college basketball at the moment:


1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Dixie State 97-63; Win vs. #5 Texas 86-74


I originally had UCLA as my number one team in the preseason, but after Gonzaga’s absolute dominance over Texas there was no way I would have any other team but Gonzaga at the top spot. When it comes to player hype I tend to be a contrarian (I didn’t expect much from number one overall recruit Chet Holmgren nor did I expect Drew Timme to find much success after last year), but Gonzaga wiped away all of my doubts. Granted, Gonzaga played Texas at home which could be considered an advantage, but with how easily Gonzaga cruised to this victory, I could see them winning against Texas in any venue. This raises the question: is Gonzaga that good or is Texas just extremely overrated? As of right now I’m leaning towards Texas being a tad overrated, but this Gonzaga squad looks for real. I’m excited to see where they go from here.


Up next for Gonzaga: vs. Alcorn State 11/15; vs. Bellarmine 11/19


2. UCLA Bruins (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. CSU Bakersfield 95-68; Win v. #4 Villanova 86-77 (OT)


UCLA played great against Villanova and proved all the nay-sayers wrong with their victory over the number four team in the country. Unfortunately for those in the eastern time zone, most of UCLA’s games will start at 10PM or later, which I find rather infuriating, and I wasn’t able to watch any of the UCLA-Nove game because of how late it was (11:30 tip-off!). I digress. As I mentioned earlier, UCLA was my preseason number one team, and I stand by my original decision, but until UCLA can put that distance between them and Gonzaga, I’ll still choose Gonzaga.


Up next for UCLA: vs. Long Beach State 11/15; vs. North Florida 11/17


3. Michigan Wolverines (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Buffalo 88-76; Win (Neutral) vs. Prairie View A&M 77-49


Not much to say about Michigan this week, they got a solid win over an underrated Buffalo squad and clobbered a very overmatched Prairie View team. The hype was very high for Michigan coming into the season, and now they need to act on it. Hunter Dickenson is proving to be a go-to player for Michigan again this season, and with how much of a bloodbath the Big 10 has been in the past few years, they’ll need him. Best of luck to the Wolverines.


Up next for Michigan: vs. Seton Hall 11/16; (N) vs. New Mexico 11/20


4. Kansas Jayhawks (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win (N) vs. Michigan State 87-74; Win vs. Tarleton State 88-62


While neither of Kansas’ wins were unexpected, the way Kansas’ offense showed up surprised many people. With Ochai Agbaji returning and with the addition of an improved Christian Braun, the Kansas offense runs like a well-oiled machine. The only qualm I had with Kansas in their first two games is their defense, as there were moments where the off-ball defense opened up opportunities for preventable layups, but it’s a minor fix that I’m sure Bill Self will be able to adjust by the end of the season.


Up next for Kansas: vs. Stony Brook 11/18


5. Purdue Boilermakers (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Bellarmine 96-67; Win vs. Indiana State 92-67


While it’s easy to write off Bellarmine and Indiana State as just two cupcakes who were paid to lose, it should be noted that both of these teams are in the top 200 according to KenPom. There are a lot of teams in this list who struggled against far worse opponents, so the fact that Purdue made these two look easy should be a testament to how well put together Matt Painter has made the team, flawlessly including the freshman and Mr. Basketball of Indiana Caleb Furst into the starting lineup. Purdue is going to be good this year.


Up next for Purdue: vs. Wright State 11/16; (N) vs. #19 North Carolina 11/20


6. Villanova Wildcats (1-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Mount St. Mary’s 91-51; Loss @ UCLA 77-86 (OT)


Even though Villanova lost, it does not mean they are a bad team by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not one for excuses, but I do find it rather advantageous that UCLA finished the game around 11PM their time, which is around 2AM Villanova’s time. I’m not entirely sure what Villanova’s sleep schedule is like, but I can be pretty confident in saying that no matter what someone’s sleep schedule is, a 2AM finish is bound to make players mentally tired faster than an 11PM finish. Even so, Villanova manhandled Mount St. Mary’s in their first game back, so I think they’ll be okay for the rest of the non-conference schedule.


Up next for Villanova: vs. Howard 11/16; (N) vs. #18 Tennessee 11/20


7. Baylor Bears (1-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Incarnate Word 87-60


There wasn’t too much of a challenge for Baylor this week, and they dominated the inferior UIW as everyone expected them to. I’m excited to see what Scott Drew has in store for us this year after almost all of the starting lineup from last year’s exciting national championship team are either graduated or in the NBA. This year will be interesting to say the least.


Up next for Baylor: vs. Nicholls State 11/15; vs. Central Arkansas 11/17; vs. Stanford 11/20


8. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Jackson State 71-47; Win vs. Arkansas State 92-53


Like Baylor, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this Illinois team other than they did what they were supposed to. Two solid wins in a week is enough for me to feel confident in Illinois being a top 10 team, which is more than I can say for some of the other teams in the top 25 this week. Arkansas State is 183/358 according to KenPom, so their demolition by Illinois looks rather impressive. Illinois looks to finally get that elusive Big 10 title this season.


Up next for Illinois: @ Marquette 11/15


9. Memphis Tigers (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Tennessee Tech 89-65; Win vs. NC Central 90-51


Not a whole lot to say about Memphis this week, as they really didn’t play anyone of note. Emoni Bates is balling out, as was expected by everyone this year, so he will be a very important aspect to the team’s success in the next few weeks. I’m excited to see what happens.


Up next for Memphis: Vs. Saint Louis 11/16; vs. Western Kentucky 11/19


10. Duke Blue Devils (3-0)

THIS WEEK: Win (N) vs. #10 Kentucky 79-71; Win vs. Army 82-56; Win vs. Campbell 67-56


The only reason I didn’t rank Duke higher is because of their close win over Campbell. While 11 points does not seem like a “close game,” Campbell had it down to six points with five minutes left in the game, which is enough for anyone to doubt Duke’s legitimacy. However, their win over Kentucky led me to believe that the Campbell game was more of a fluke than an actual representation of how Duke will play for the rest of the season. I’m not entirely sold on Banchero yet, but he has been performing well (although I still don’t know why freshmen who haven’t played yet are allowed to be on preseason all-ACC teams).


Up next for Duke: vs. Gardner-Webb 11/16; vs. Lafayette 11/19


11. UConn Huskies (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Central Connecticut State 99-48; Win vs. Coppin State 89-54


Yes, Central Connecticut State and Coppin State are real and yes they are both division one schools. Neither one will win anything any time soon (harsh but true) so it makes sense that UConn blew them out of the water. However, given that some Big East schools struggled with their bottom-of-the-barrel teams (looking at you, Creighton, who trailed #356 Arkansas-Pine Bluff by 4 at halftime), I’m willing to give UConn some credit for these annihilations. So, good job Huskies. You did what you were supposed to.


Up next for UConn: vs. Long Island University 11/17; vs. Binghamton 11/20

12. Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Louisiana Tech 93-64; WIn vs. South Dakota State 104-88


I probably have Alabama a touch low, but there is always room to improve in basketball. The two teams Alabama obliterated this week are top-100 teams according to KenPom, so Bama’s strength of record is one of the best in the country at the moment. With the bias of “I don’t know the names of these schools therefore they cannot be good,” it’s easy to see how these wins should be obvious, but Alabama’s electric offense is just way too hard to stop for any team, even teams like South Dakota State who try to outscore every opponent. This team is going to be dangerous.


Up next for Alabama: vs. South Alabama 11/16; vs. Oakland 11/19


13. Kentucky Wildcats (1-1)

THIS WEEK: Loss (N) vs. #9 Duke 71-79; Win vs. Robert Morris 100-60


Yes, Kentucky lost, but again a loss does not equal incompetence or lack of talent. I truly believe that this Kentucky team will bounce back and clobber every team until conference play, shown by the fact that they walloped Robert Morris by 40. The Wildcats don’t have much of a challenge again until they play Notre Dame in mid-december, so Calipari has some time to get his team on the right track.


Up next for Kentucky: vs. Mount St. Mary’s 11/16; vs. Ohio 11/19


14. Texas Longhorns (1-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Houston Baptist 92-48; Loss @ #1 Gonzaga 74-86


Texas looked great against Houston Baptist, and so everyone was excited to see them play against Gonzaga. Luckily for them, the football team was busy embarrassing the school’s namesake, so not many people watched them get torched by the number 1 team in the country. I’m only joking of course, but Texas did look outmatched against the Zags. I have them at 14 because while they’re definitely not a top five team, they should still be considered a top 15 team with Beard as their coach and with some of the talent they’ve received.


Up next for Texas: vs. Northern Colorado 11/17; vs. San Jose State 11/20


15. Tennessee Volunteers (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. UT Martin 90-62; Win vs. ETSU 94-62


Tennessee has looked dominant in their two games thus far, and there really isn’t much else to be said. It’s difficult to have a good defense with the high tempo that Tennessee has, but somehow the Vols are able to pull it off impeccably, and even though 62 points seems high for two mid-major schools, the points per possession allowed is one of the lowest in the nation for Tennessee. They are going to be an interesting team to watch in the future.


Up next for Tennessee: (N) vs. #4 Villanova


16. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Akron 67-66; Win vs. Niagara 84-74


I’ve mentioned a few times about giving teams credit for wins against opponents that they should beat handily. Well, Ohio State is why I give those teams credit. On the first day of the college basketball season, Ohio State was neck-and-neck with Akron of all teams, and it made everyone rethink how good Ohio State really is, especially after their shocking loss to the 15 seed Oral Roberts last year. Ohio State followed up their lousy win with another lousy win, as Niagara, the 259th ranked team according to KenPom, stayed with the Buckeyes the entire game. I have some hope that Ohio State can pull it together, but with how these last two games have looked, maybe it’s right to say that they’re overrated.


Up next for Ohio State: vs. Bowling Green 11/15; @ Xavier 11/18


17. Houston Cougars (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Hofstra 83-75 (OT); Win vs. Rice 79-46


Again, I give teams credit for beating weak opponents because of performances like Houtson’s. Needing overtime to beat Hofstra is “yikes” material, with Houston’s poor rebounding and shot selection giving them the feel of a team who does not deserve to be ranked. However, Houston pulled it together against Rice and gave Houston fans a sigh of relief that their team wasn’t a complete failure a week into the season.


Up next for Houston: vs. #25 Virginia 11/16


18. Arkansas Razorbacks (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Mercer 74-61; Win vs. Gardner-Webb 86-69


Arkansas’ first game against Mercer was almost a trainwreck. Well, in most ways it was a trainwreck considering they were down by 8 at the end of the first half, but what matters is that Arkansas came back to win convincingly, and in my eyes they did. Their game against Gardner-Webb wasn’t as close as their game against Mercer so it’s fair to say that they improved over the course of those two games. It’ll be an interesting season for Arkansas as they fight against the surprisingly strong SEC this season.


Up next for Arkansas: vs. Northern Iowa 11/17


19. Maryland Terrapins (3-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Quinnipiac 83-69; Win vs. George Washington 71-64; Win vs. Vermont 68-57


Maryland was going strong up until they played the American East favorite Vermont. Vermont is a strong team and Maryland was probably a little tired from playing two games in three days, but only scoring 68 points is a bit concerning for this offense-heavy Terps team. The inclusion of Fatts Russell will boost this team’s PPG without a doubt, but Maryland needs to score with other players if they want to win more games.


Up next for Maryland: vs. George Mason 11/17; vs. Hofstra 11/19


20. Auburn Tigers (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Morehead State 77-54; Win vs. Louisiana-Monroe 93-65


Auburn has yet to be truly tested, but their wins have been consistent and dominant, so I’ll give them some credit for that. There isn’t a whole lot known about this team other than their defense seems to be really good, so be on the lookout for that when Auburn plays next. I’m interested to see how this team plays for the rest of the season.


Up next for Auburn: @ South Florida 11/19


21. Florida Gators (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Elon 74-61; Win vs. #20 Florida State 71-55


After Florida only beat a dismal Elon team by 13, many skeptics arose about Florida’s legitimacy especially after their embarrassing defeat by 15 seed Oral Roberts last season. The Florida players seemed to take those criticisms personally, and had tunnel vision while playing their in-state rivals. The spreads never swung in Florida’s favor, only becoming a “pick-em” at certain points throughout the day. Florida took a quick 5 point lead in the first half and never looked back. If the Florida State game is how Florida is going to play for the rest of the season, they look to be contenders for the ACC title come March.


Up next for Florida: vs. Milwaukee 11/18


22. Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-0)

THIS WEEK: WIn vs. North Florida 89-74; Win vs. Grambling 88-62


Nothing too spectacular from the Red Raiders this week. With the addition of Obanor from Oral Roberts, Texas Tech’s offense seemingly hasn’t missed a beat from where it was last year. Texas Tech has a rather poor non-conference schedule this season, so they really won’t be challenged until mid-december when they play Tennessee. I’m excited to see how Texas Tech does for the rest of the season.


Up next for Texas Tech: vs. Prairie View A&M 11/15; vs. Incarnate Word 11/20


23. Xavier Musketeers (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Niagara 63-60; Win vs. Kent State 73-59


Maybe Niagara is a better team than everyone thought (watch out for them if they make the tournament in March!), or maybe Xavier just needs another week or so to get everything under control. Whatever it is, I trust Xavier to make the adjustments needed to get through their mediocre out of conference schedule. I’ll keep a closer eye on the Musketeers to make sure they aren’t squeaking by every game.


Up next for Xavier: #17 Ohio State 11/18; Norfolk State 11/21


24. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Loyola (MD) 83-67; Win vs. Brown 94-87


I spent a long time pondering if I should rank North Carolina or not, especially because their game against Brown is looking pretty nasty, but I feel like Hubert Davis (it’s very weird not saying Roy Williams) can make the adjustments needed to succeed at UNC.


Up next for North Carolina: @ Charleston 11/16; (N) vs. #7 Purdue 11/20


25. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Cal State Northridge 68-52


Closing out this weeks’ rankings is Notre Dame because they probably played the best out of all of the ACC teams on Saturday. Paul Atkinson proved to be a critical addition to the team with his 16 point performance, as well as freshman and South Bend native Blake Wesley having a game-high 21 points for the Irish. This team is very well-rounded and can be deadly if they can figure out how to extend possessions with offensive rebounds and figure out how to score more efficiently in the post. All-in-all, Notre Dame has the talent, they just need to find the will to win.