Siler’s Selections (21-22) Week 5

Utah+Valley+stuns+%2313+BYU+72-65+in+OT%21+Via+Yahoo%21+Sports

Utah Valley stuns #13 BYU 72-65 in OT! Via Yahoo! Sports

Matthew Siler, College Basketball Reporter

Welcome to challenge week everyone! The annual conference challenges between the ACC/B1G and the Big 12/SEC challenge. There wasn’t a whole lot of action between the top 25 teams with the exception of a few top teams playing each other. Once conference season starts, there will be a lot more excitement within the sport. For now, here are my top 25 teams for week 5 of the college basketball season:

1. Purdue Boilermakers (8-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Florida State 93-65; Win vs. Iowa 77-70

 

The Boilermakers remain number one this week! Both of their wins came against quality opponents in Florida State and Iowa, and while Purdue fans might be a little irked at how the Iowa game ended, I feel like they should be confident in the squad they have right now. Will Purdue go undefeated in conference play? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the best team in the country at the moment.

 

Up next for Purdue: @ Rutgers

2. Baylor Bears (8-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 99-54

 

Baylor pretty much moved up out of default but they still deserve this spot. Like I’ve said in previous weeks, this is the bench of Baylor’s national championship team playing so there is still plenty of talent on the Bears. They probably won’t be as dominant as they were last year, but they are still one of the best teams in the country.

 

Up next for Baylor: vs. #6 Villanova

3. Duke Blue Devils (7-1)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Ohio State 66-71

 

All seemed right in college basketball: Duke was the number one team, Kansas, Kentucky, and UCLA were all top 10 as well. Then Ohio State came along and completely outperformed expectations for the first time since around January of last season. Duke looked vulnerable with their shooting, as only hitting 23% of shots in any half will make it very easy for any team to get a lead. I don’t think Duke is a bad team by any means; I think they’ll improve as the season goes on like most teams do. This is a last hurrah for Coach K, he’s not going to waste it.

 

Up next for Duke: vs. South Carolina State

 

4. Kansas Jayhawks (6-1)

THIS WEEK: Win @ St. John’s 95-75

 

A truly dominant win for Kansas will bring them up to number 4 in the rankings this week. I’m starting to think that the Dayton game was more and more of a fluke because of how complete their game against St. John’s was this week. In almost every computer ranking, St. John’s is a top-60 team, so this was no bottom-of-the-barrel cupcake that Kansas dominated, it was a legitimate power 6 opponent.

 

Up next for Kansas: vs. UTEP

 

5. UCLA Bruins (7-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Colorado 73-61

 

UCLA played exactly how they were supposed to against a decent Colorado team. There’s not a whole lot to say about them this week because their forfeited game against Washington (Washington had multiple COVID cases) took away one of their tougher challenges before conference play.

 

Up next for UCLA: @ Marquette

 

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #3 Gonzaga 91-82

 

December 4th might go down as the best day in Alabama Crimson Tide sports. That might be an exaggeration, but beating the #1 team in football and the #3 team in basketball within a 4 hour timespan is pretty impressive to say the least. Alabama’s defense is amazing. It may not look like they have a good defense because Gonzaga scored 82 points, but it’s important to note that Alabama’s pace is one of the fastest in the country, with an average offensive possession lasting only 15 seconds, good for 19th fastest in the league. Alabama has the ability to go very far in March this year.

 

Up next for Alabama: vs. #15 Houston

 

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (7-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Tarleton State 64-55; Loss (N) vs. #16 Alabama 82-91

 

Gonzaga has not looked very good the past three games. After their loss to Duke let everyone in the college basketball world know that this team was, in fact, mortal, Tarleton State made them look even more mortal. I’ll defend Tarleton by saying that their defense is above average and very feisty for a mid-major. They’ve given teams like Michigan, North Dakota State, and Stanford runs for their money, with each of those losses coming by 11 points or less. Their slow pace (353rd out of 356) makes getting a big lead very difficult, and any mistakes on offense that much deadlier. Gonzaga tried to rebound from their lackluster game against Tarleton only to give another slow performance against Alabama. This team needs to get their act together if they want to be taken seriously during conference play which is notoriously easy. However, the WCC is very strong and Gonzaga could lose a couple games if they aren’t careful.

 

Up next for Gonzaga: vs. Merrimack

 

8.Villanova Wildcats (6-2)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Penn 71-56; Win vs. St. Joseph’s 81-52

 

Villanova is starting to settle into their season now that they are able to play easier opponents. It was weird seeing them play a game against such a small opponent as Penn at Penn, but apparently it was because a small in-season tournament was played there which is interesting. 

 

Up next for Villanova: vs. (N) Syracuse

 

9. Texas Longhorns (6-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Sam Houston State 73-57; Win vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley 88-58

 

Texas looked very strong in their wins against SHSU and UTRGV, which are probably two of the hardest names to guess the acronyms to if you didn’t know the schools existed. Lik most of the other teams on this list, they played teams they were supposed to beat and didn’t really have any trouble with them so there isn’t a whole lot to say about them this week.

 

Up next for Texas: @ Seton Hall

10. Florida Gators (6-1)

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Oklahoma 67-74

 

I put my faith in the Gators last week by ranking them in the top five and this is how they play? I’m disappointed. Florida was simply outmatched by Oklahoma, and all of their weaknesses (relying on Castleton too much, poor three point shooting) were on full display. It’s up to the Gators to see how they recover from this loss. Florida still has a decent strength of record thus far so I’m not dropping them an insane amount.

 

Up next for Florida: vs. Texas Southern

 

11. Kentucky Wildcats (6-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Central Michigan 85-57

 

Kentucky did what they were supposed to against a very easy Central Michigan. Their next challenge will be Notre Dame, but even then it probably won’t be too difficult with the way things have looked for the Irish.

 

Up next for Kentucky: vs. Southern U

 

12. UConn Huskies (8-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. UMES 72-63; Win vs. Grambling 88-59

 

UConn had a bit of a hiccup against UMES which was a bit confusing considering they won three games in a row by 30+ earlier in the season. They had plenty of recovery time from Feast Week, but I guess they had too much. They got it together during the Grambling game, however.

 

Up next for UConn: @ West Virginia

 

13. Tennessee Volunteers (6-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Presbyterian 86-44; Win @ Colorado 69-54

 

Tennessee played really well this week. A win at Colorado can be difficult due to how high the altitude is at their stadium (and there is a correlation between home court advantage and altitude). Neither win this week was sloppy or undeserved, just two hard-fought wins by Tennessee.

 

Up next for Tennessee: vs. (N) Texas Tech

14. Iowa State Cyclones (8-0) 

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 83-64; Win @ Creighton 64-58

 

I’m not sure why Creighton was favored by over 5 points against Iowa State in their game, I’m pretty sure most people are pretty confident that Iowa State’s recent success is not a fluke and that their team is, in fact, a good team. Although their win against Creighton was very low-scoring, I attribute that to the fact that Creighton’s offense is very slow-paced and does not take many shots per game. Iowa State has really turned it around since last year. Amazing what a change of coach can do for a program.

 

Up next for Iowa State: vs. Iowa

 

15. Arizona Wildcats (6-0)

THIS WEEK: Win @ Oregon State 90-65

 

I’m not too high on Arizona yet simply because their biggest win is against a team that probably won’t be ranked by next week. It might seem a bit hypocritical to say that, but Arizona was never really high for me to begin with, and I won’t let the AP poll influence my rankings. Their win against Oregon State is excellent, and everything is leading up to their four-game stretch in a few weeks where they have all away games.

 

Up next for Arizona: vs. Wyoming

 

16. Houston Cougars (7-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Northwestern State 99-58; Win vs. Bryant 111-44

 

Houston has really turned it on the past few days, making small mid-majors look like division 2 opponents with some of the finals. However, these games don’t really mean anything in the long run because beating a bad team by 20 is no different than beating a bad team by 77.

 

Up next for Houston: vs. Alcorn State

17. LSU Tigers (8-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Ohio 66-51

 

Not a whole lot to say about LSU this week since they played a MAC team and only played one game. If they keep winning they’ll stay ranked, that’s for sure.

 

Up next for LSU: @ Georgia Tech

 

18. Arkansas Razorbacks (8-0) 

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Central Arkansas 97-60; Win vs. Arkansas-Little Rock 93-78

 

Arkansas played some pretty weak teams this week and to no one’s surprise won them both pretty handily. The excitement in Arkansas’ schedule starts to go up again next week and then fades by the week after.

 

Up next for Arkansas: vs. UNC-Charlotte

 

19. Auburn Tigers (7-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. UCF 81-65; Win vs. Yale 86-64

 

Auburn looked very solid against two other very solid teams. Auburn’s last three or so games haven’t even been close. They’ve averaged 86.7 points and allowed 66.7 points, and the average opponent rank of those three games is 81.3 according to KenPom, which is outstanding! A truly dominant stretch for the Tigers to get the attention of poll voters.

 

Up next for Auburn: vs. (N) Nebraska

 

20. Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-1) 

THIS WEEK: Loss @ Providence 68-72

 

Against their only good opponent of the season Texas Tech looked like they were a little lost. There was plenty of fight that’s for sure, but everything just seemed off. Texas Tech kept it close the whole game, but never really got within arms’ reach of the lead. I still have them ranked this week because I believe they can bounce back against Tennessee.

 

Up next for Texas Tech: vs. (N) #13 Tennessee

 

21. USC Trojans (8-0) 

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Utah 93-73; Win @ Washington State 63-61

 

Two very good wins for USC this week. I’m not sure what Las Vegas knew going into that Washington State game, but it was a lot closer than anyone expected. Wazzu is a great team this season, but I believed that USC was far better than a two point game. With that said, USC still won the game despite how close it was, meaning they have a good clutch factor which will benefit them greatly in March.

 

Up next for USC: Eastern Kentucky

 

22. San Francisco Dons (9-0)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. UNLV 81-62

 

San Francisco has been denied a spot in the rankings for too long this season. Starting 9-0 is hard enough, but with an average opponent rank of 172, that’s an extremely impressive start to the season. San Francisco is a better version of Virginia this season: a slow tempoed offense with good big guys and even better perimeter shooting. They probably have the best chance at upsetting Gonzaga in the WCC this year.

 

Up next for San Francisco: vs. Fresno State

 

23. Michigan State Spartans (7-2) 

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Louisville 73-64; Win vs. Toledo 81-68

 

Tom Izzo is such a great coach. At the beginning of the season, Michigan State looked like they were headed for another mediocre season with an underwhelming finish, but after a few lineup-changes and whatever magic Izzo uses during practice, Michigan State is now a contender in the Big 10 again, and with their decisive win over Louisville, the Spartans are once again looking like their old self. 

 

Up next for Michigan State: @ Minnesota

 

24. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-2)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. #1 Duke 71-66; Win @ Penn State 76-64

 

Beating the number one team is enough to get this Buckeyes team ranked, and then adding on a dominant road win against Penn State gives them even more reason to be ranked after a very underwhelming start to the season. Ohio State is looking better than ever now, with a new and improved defense that seemed to be lacking throughout last year and became their downfall in March. Have their hero ball woes been vanquished? Who knows, because they didn’t really need them in their game against Duke. I still think that Ohio State has the potential to do well in March.

 

Up next for Ohio State: vs. Towson

 

25. Providence Friars (8-1)

THIS WEEK: Win vs. Texas Tech 72-68; Win vs. Rhode Island 66-52

 

Providence has impressed me all year, and much like their conference foe Xavier I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to rank them. Their loss to Virginia will probably keep most people from ranking them this week, but I feel like if a team isn’t 100% prepared to play Virginia, they’re going to lose. Providence has looked much better since those games, and preseason bias has pretty much escaped me, so there’s really no reason not to rank the Friars.

 

Up next for Providence: vs. Vermont