Fourth Quarter Sports’ College Basketball power rankings: Week 19
Top 25 Rankings
- Gonzaga (29-2)
- Virginia (28-2)
- North Carolina (26-5)
- Kentucky (26-5)
- Duke (26-5)
- Texas Tech (26-5)
- Michigan State (25-6)
- LSU (25-5)
- Tennessee (27-4)
- Purdue (23-8)
- Michigan (26-5)
- Florida State (25-6)
- Kansas State (24-7)
- Houston (29-2)
- Kansas (23-8)
- Marquette (23-8)
- Virginia Tech (23-7)
- Buffalo (28-3)
- Wofford (27-4)
- Nevada (27-3)
- Maryland (22-9)
- Wisconsin (21-9)
- Cincinnati (25-6)
- Washington (24-6)
- Utah State (25-6)
Still expected in the tournament:
Villanova, UCF, Iowa State, Louisville, Baylor, Iowa, Arizona State, Auburn, Mississippi State, Temple, VCU and North Carolina State
Top 25 Breakdown
Numbers One through Five
Gonzaga was the only team that didn’t play a game last week, and despite that, they are still No. 1. Gonzaga might have lost to North Carolina and Tennessee, but they managed to stay focused and win 20 straight games. No matter how bad their conference is that stat only is impressive during a season that has no clear front runner. Gonzaga also beat Duke earlier in the season which has given them an edge.
Virginia and Kentucky were not able to beat Duke this year, and they were able to beat North Carolina. That’s why I said it’s a wide open field when it comes to who could win it.
North Carolina struggled earlier in the season with losses to Kentucky, Texas, and Michigan, but the Tar Heels battled back and swept Duke on the season.
Duke has been playing their best basketball, and I would say that they could win it all if they have a healthy Zion Williamson. Without him, Duke is a different team. They are 2-4 without him in the lineup, so hopefully, Duke can find a way to get him back as they look to claim one of the four top seeds in the tournament.
Numbers Six through 10
Texas Tech won a share of the Big XII title with Kansas State, and they are looking to make a run into the tournament to prove us all that they are worthy of a top spot in the tournament. They gave Duke with Zion a tough time earlier this season before losing that game. It was their first loss of the season, and Texas Tech hopes to have the chance to revenge that loss if the bracket plays into their favor.
Michigan State and Purdue have a share of the Big Ten title as Michigan State pulled off a season sweep against in-state rival, Michigan. The Spartans have also played through a lot of injuries as they look to defend their ground and get themselves a top spot in the tournament. Purdue overcame early season struggles and continued to fight their way to the top of the Big Ten. Despite losing four starters from last season, the Boiler Makers have finished with a better result, but let’s see how far they go into the tournament.
LSU and Tennessee played games against different opponents that would give them both a share at the SEC title. LSU was able to hold on and win their game, but Tennessee lost to Auburn and their former head coach, Bruce Pearl! LSU will be the SEC regular-season champion despite all the off-court issues they have been facing. The real question is how they will do if their head coach remains to suspend? Can LSU make a big run into the tournament?
Numbers 11 through 15
Michigan blew a big lead against Michigan State, and it blew their chance at a top seed in the bracket. It doesn’t help when they get swept either. If Michigan can have a strong conference tournament, they may be able to get a better seed.
Kansas State and Kansas have battled all season with their conference foes like Texas Tech, and only one can come out on top. Kansas State shares the conference title with Texas Tech, but they have all beaten each other at least once this season and that makes this an exciting tournament.
It’s more interesting for Kansas who has been the regular season conference champion 14 straight seasons – sharing it four times. When the season started, it looked like that was going to be the case again, until Arizona State got a sneaky win and their season took a turn. The Big XII was also very competitive this season, and it could even go to Baylor or Iowa State if they wanted it bad enough.
Florida State earned themselves a double bye in the ACC tournament to join Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia. Florida State will be in the tournament, but they want more than just a berth. How will they finish the conference tournament?
Houston has surprised a lot of us this season, and they are one of the 15 teams in the nations. They have only dropped so low because of the strength of schedule by the teams in front of them. They have also clinched the AAC regular season conference title and look to capture the tournament title as well.
Numbers 16 through 20
Marquette is lost, they couldn’t even be ranked anymore after losing four straight conference games and their chance at winning the Big East title. Instead, Villanova will be the Big East champion once again. Marquette needs a win though. If they can’t figure out how to win again, this could be a scary moment of a team that was once ranked 10th.
Virginia Tech lost their chance at being the 4th seed in the ACC tournament after losing to Florida State, but they will be in the tournament and could get revenge on Florida State in the quarterfinals.
Buffalo and Wofford have won their conference titles as well. They look like they could also win their tournament and an automatic bid into the tournament.
Buffalo may need to look out for Toledo and Bowling Green as potential teams that could win the conference tournament.
Wofford finished the season with a perfect conference record, and I don’t see anyone in the conference that could beat them.
Nevada shares the conference title with Utah State after they lost to them a few weeks back. The conference tournament is where Nevada looks to take complete control over the conference even if that means beating Utah State again.
Numbers 21 through 25
Maryland and Wisconsin have both been in and out of the top 25 all season long, and we can blame the challenging Big Ten conference for that. They have both managed to get themselves valuable wins over opponents like Michigan State, Iowa, and Minnesota (all expected to be in the tournament). Iowa isn’t featured in the top 25, but they too have made it a difficult decision to determine the bracket.
Cincinnati has found a way to overcome their loss to Central Florida a few weeks ago. They also had a tough challenge against Houston Sunday afternoon that would determine whether or not they’ll have a share of the AAC regular-season title. Unfortunately, they won’t up to the challenge and will hope they can still get a spot in the tournament. I think they did just enough to do so.
Washington is the only team in the PAC-12 that we may see in the tournament besides maybe Arizona State. But it’s been a rough year in sports for the PAC-12 and Washington seemed to be the only hope in both football and basketball. The basketball Huskies have claimed the PAC-12 regular season title and are looking for an automatic bid into the tournament, but will any other team in that conference join them?
Utah State beat Nevada a few weeks ago to help their chances at winning the conference. They will ultimately hold a share of the conference with Nevada as they head into conference tournament play where it may come down to a third meeting between the two teams. The third meeting will likely determine the automatic bid for their conference, but I do expect both teams to make the tournament and represent their conference nicely.
Now that this is the last power rankings of the top 25 teams let’s keep an eye on how these teams do in their conference tournament as they look to get the automatic bids and at-large bids into the madness. Let’s also pay attention to who will get the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament. I will give you all my bracket next Sunday as I select the 68 teams in the tournament and where they all will be seeded.