Home Sports Men’s Power Rankings: How about that Purdue loss?

Men’s Power Rankings: How about that Purdue loss?

Men’s Power Rankings: How about that Purdue loss?


Through all the upheaval and chaos of the men’s college basketball Power Rankings over the past several weeks, there remained two constants: UConn and Purdue were at the top of the pile. The Huskies haven’t lost since Dec. 20, and the Boilermakers hadn’t lost since Jan. 9 … until Sunday afternoon.

Purdue saw its nine-game winning streak snapped in stunning fashion when it went to Ohio State and lost 73-69 in the Buckeyes’ first game since firing Chris Holtmann.

We’ve had UConn at No. 1 for weeks, but how far does Matt Painter’s team drop from No. 2 with this loss?

The Boilermakers entered the day ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s strength of record and KPI, No. 2 in BPI and No. 3 in KenPom. They’re tied with UConn for the most Quadrant 1 wins in the country and ahead of the Huskies for the most Quad 1 and 2 wins. They have marquee victories over Arizona, Tennessee, Marquette, Alabama and Illinois, all teams ranked in this week’s top 16.

For comparison’s sake, Houston — the No. 3 team in the rankings — has elite metrics but doesn’t own a single win over a team in this week’s top 16. (That could change this week against Iowa State at home and at Baylor, however.)

So for now, Purdue remains at No. 2, despite the loss. But, the gap has widened between it and the No. 1 Huskies. And, No. 3 Houston is now right on the Boilermakers’ heels.

On to this week’s awards and rankings …



No. 22 Kentucky takes down red-hot No. 13 Auburn

Antonio Reeves leads the offensive attack with 22 points to pace the Wildcats past the Tigers 70-59 in a hostile environment.

One week ago, Kentucky was in disarray and facing questions about its NCAA tournament potential, coach John Calipari’s future and everything in between. Now, the Wildcats are coming off one of the best road wins anyone has picked up all season, and playing themselves right back into the Power Rankings conversation. They opened with a home win over Ole Miss, closing the first half with an extended run that kept the Rebels at arm’s length for most of the second half. And then came the stunner: Kentucky went on the road and handed Auburn its first home loss of the season, 70-59.

The key for the Wildcats came on the defensive end, where they had struggled mightily since the start of the season, especially since the start of their slump in mid-January. After holding just one opponent to fewer than 65 points from Nov. 10 to Feb. 13, they limited both Ole Miss and Auburn to fewer than 65. Ole Miss scored just 0.87 points per possession, and Auburn clocked in at 0.88, two of Kentucky’s four best defensive performances all season.



Blake Hinson puts up 41 in Pitt’s win vs. Louisville

Blake Hinson scores 41 points in Pittsburgh’s win against ACC rival Louisville.

Pitt has played itself into NCAA tournament contention over the past month, winning seven of its past eight games — including road wins at Duke and Virginia, and a home win over Wake Forest. Across that span, star Blake Hinson is averaging 21.5 points and 5.3 rebounds and shooting 50.7% from 3-point range. But the senior forward also took his game up a notch this past week.

He started with 27 points in the huge road win against the Cavaliers, which included going 5-for-13 from 3 and making all six of his shots inside the arc. Eighteen of those points came in the second half. He followed up that performance with 41 points and nine 3s in a blowout win over Louisville. There, he notched 27 points in the first half then went point-for-point with Louisville on his own well into the second half.

The biggest blowout of a top-five team in conference play in the history of the AP poll? Yep, that’ll clinch it. UConn’s 28-point win on Saturday was the largest-ever margin of a victory in a top-five matchup between conference opponents, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Just a few hours after the NCAA tournament selection committee revealed it had Purdue at No. 1 ahead of UConn, the Huskies made their statement that they’re the best team in the country.

It was a competitive game for the first 10 minutes, with both teams tied at 18. UConn then finished the first half on a 24-8 run and never trailed by fewer than 16 points the rest of the game. Donovan Clingan led the way with 17 points and 10 boards, missing just one shot all game. Tristen Newton outdueled Tyler Kolek, going for 15 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Perhaps the most remarkable team stat: UConn assisted 24 of its 29 made baskets.

If you beat the No. 2 team in the country — and the overall 1-seed in the NCAA tournament selection committee’s mock bracket — in your first game after taking over a program, you’ll win this category more often than not. Diebler had actually taken over for Chris Holtmann for two games previously because of illness, including earlier this season against New Orleans. He went 2-0 in those games. But he was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season following Holtmann’s firing Wednesday, and his first test came against none other than Purdue.

The Boilermakers scored the first eight points of the game, which didn’t exactly portend a memorable day for Diebler. Yet, the Buckeyes finished the first half on a 14-2 run and never trailed in the second. They led by as many as 12 points, with the gap closing on a Lance Jones 3 with 1:39 left. Jamison Battle, who scored all 19 of his points after the break, responded with four straight points, and Bruce Thornton (22 points) iced the game with free throws.

Diebler, 37, was at Ohio State as video coordinator under Thad Matta and then returned as an assistant in 2019 under Holtmann. We’ve seen interim head coaches go on runs and turn them into the permanent job before. Rodney Terry did it last season, for one. Diebler might not have enough time to do so, but Sunday was an incredible first impression.

Three teams with questions

Indiana State Sycamores: It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Sycamores to earn an at-large bid after dropping games to Illinois State and Southern Illinois last week. That first game was a dreaded Quad 4 loss, while the second was a Quad 2 loss. Another loss in the MVC tournament could be a dagger for Josh Schertz’s team.

Miami Hurricanes: Just one year removed from a Final Four appearance, Miami is going to need to win the ACC tournament to go dancing again. The Hurricanes lost to Clemson and Boston College this past week, running their losing streak up to four games. They’re now just 4-9 in their past 13 games, falling to 6-9 in the ACC. That puts them 12th in the league standings.

Memphis Tigers: It’s remarkable how quickly the Tigers have fallen from the top 10 — where they were ranked as recently as Jan. 21 — to having no chance of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They lost to SMU by 27 on Sunday, three days after losing at North Texas by 10. The defeats dropped Memphis into a three-way tie for sixth in the AAC, and the Tigers are now 3-6 in their past nine games. It’s auto bid or bust for Penny Hardaway’s program.



Hurley on Marquette: ‘It’s a privilege to play them’

UConn coach Dan Hurley says he respects Marquette’s program after Huskies’ dominant 81-53 win.

Power Rankings

1. UConn Huskies (24-2)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Creighton (Tuesday), vs. Villanova (Saturday)

We already addressed Saturday’s dominance, so let’s talk about Donovan Clingan’s impact on the Huskies, as well as Hassan Diarra‘s performance off the bench against Marquette.

First, Clingan. The difference he makes on the defensive end is widely known at this point (UConn is up there with Houston and Iowa State among the elite defenses nationally with a healthy Clingan), but he has now hit double-figure scoring in three of his past four games. As for Diarra, he stepped up with 14 points and six assists against Marquette as Stephon Castle struggled, which has been a rare occurrence in the past two months.

2. Purdue Boilermakers (23-3)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Rutgers (Thursday), at Michigan (Sunday)

Sunday’s loss is more than likely a blip in Purdue’s run to a second straight Big Ten title and NCAA tournament 1-seed, but it’s worth talking about the Boilermakers’ defensive performance over the past few weeks. They’ve allowed more than one point per possession in four of five games, including against Minnesota (1.15 points/possession) and Ohio State (1.17 points/possession) last week. Purdue has also dropped to fifth in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency in league play. Teams are simply finding it too easy to get clean looks against Purdue; Northwestern and Minnesota both made at least 12 3-pointers, while the Wildcats, Wisconsin and Ohio State all shot better than 52% from inside the arc.



J’wan Roberts flexes on Texas with the and-1

Houston’s J’wan Roberts buries the layup through contact and flexes on his defender.

3. Houston Cougars (22-3)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Iowa State (Monday), at Baylor (Saturday)

Houston has bounced back nicely from its poor showing at Kansas a couple weeks ago. The Cougars have held three straight opponents below one point per possession, including Texas (0.93) on Saturday. Kelvin Sampson’s team limited Max Abmas to seven points in that game, the first time he has been held to single digits since Dec. 19, 2022 — 47 games ago. Houston now enters arguably its toughest week since moving to the Big 12.

4. Arizona Wildcats (20-5)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Washington State (Thursday), vs. Washington (Saturday)

The NCAA tournament selection committee made it clear Saturday that there was a sizable gap between Arizona and the rest of the field for the final 1-seed, and the Wildcats backed up the show of faith by pummeling Arizona State by 45 points. The emergence of Jaden Bradley as a consistent scorer the past few games has made Tommy Lloyd’s eight-man rotation even stronger. He had a season-high 14 points the previous weekend at Colorado, then topped that with a career-high 21 points and five dimes against the Sun Devils.

5. Tennessee Volunteers (19-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Missouri (Tuesday), vs. Texas A&M (Saturday)

Games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt, the two worst offensive teams in the SEC, came at the perfect time for Tennessee to get its defense back on track. The Volunteers were still among the best in the country at that end of the floor, but they had allowed 1.23 points per possession in two of their previous three games. The Razorbacks and Commodores, however, combined to score 0.81 points per possession. Rick Barnes’ team is now just one game back of Alabama in the SEC race.



Nice shot from Keshon Gilbert

Nice shot from Keshon Gilbert

6. Iowa State Cyclones (20-5)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Houston (Monday), vs. West Virginia (Saturday)

In a season in which he has been one of the best transfers in the Big 12, Keshon Gilbert had arguably his best game in Saturday’s win over Texas Tech. He finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Gilbert was particularly fantastic in the second half, scoring 18 of his points, including two 3s coming out of the break and another 3 to extend Iowa State’s lead after Tech had cut the deficit with a 7-0 run midway.

7. Marquette Golden Eagles (19-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. DePaul (Wednesday), vs. Xavier (Sunday)

Marquette needed a vintage Tyler Kolek performance if it was going to beat UConn on the road Saturday — and that might not have been enough anyway. But the All-American point guard finishing with seven points on 2-for-11 shooting to go with three assists and four turnovers is the latest example of Kolek’s dramatic splits in Marquette’s wins and losses. In 19 wins, he’s averaging 17.1 points and 7.7 assists, while shooting 53.1% from the field and 46.7% from 3. In six losses, those numbers are 11.3 points and 5.7 assists, shooting 32.9% from the field and 25% from 3.



Armando Bacot throws down big slam vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Armando Bacot throws down big slam vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

8. North Carolina Tar Heels (20-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Virginia (Saturday)

In the final three games of January, Armando Bacot averaged just 6.3 points and 6.7 rebounds. Even though the Tar Heels were winning, Hubert Davis wanted more, saying he needed Bacot “to be a dude down low” ahead of a rivalry showdown against Duke. In his past five games, Bacot has been exactly that, averaging 19.6 points and 12.0 rebounds. He went for 25 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech.

9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Texas (Saturday)

Despite bouncing back from its historic 29-point loss to Texas Tech with a road win at Oklahoma on Saturday, Kansas has now been held below one point per possession in four consecutive games. Two of those came without Kevin McCullar Jr., and he likely wasn’t 100% healthy for the others, but it’s a trend worth noting. In that stretch, according to BartTorvik.com, Kansas ranks 13th in the Big 12 (No. 259 nationally) in adjusted offensive efficiency, 13th in the Big 12 (No. 356 nationally) in offensive rebounding percentage, 12th in the Big 12 (No. 261 nationally) in 2-point percentage and last in the Big 12 (No. 349 nationally) in 3-point percentage.

10. Alabama Crimson Tide (18-7)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Florida (Wednesday), at Kentucky (Saturday)

Alabama has bounced back nicely from its loss earlier this month at Auburn. In its two games since the defeat, the Crimson Tide averaged 104.5 points and shooting 42.4% from 3-point range, making 18 3s in each game. And with those 100-plus points against LSU and Texas A&M, Alabama has now hit the 100-point mark eight times this season. Per ESPN Stats & Information, no other team in the country has done it more than five times this season.

11. Baylor Bears (19-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: at BYU (Tuesday), vs. Houston (Saturday)

As it enters a brutal six-game final stretch, Baylor’s offense is humming and is now ranked fourth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and first in the Big 12 in points per possession. The Bears scored 1.36 points per possession against Oklahoma on Tuesday, shooting better than 52% from 3-point range. They then went on the road and dropped 94 points on West Virginia, despite not making a field goal for the final 6:21. Jayden Nunn averaged 23.5 points and hit 11 3s in the two games.



Jared McCain drops 25 points in the 1st half for Duke

Jared McCain is unstoppable in the first half as he cooks Florida State for 25 points.

12. Duke Blue Devils (20-5)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Miami (Wednesday), at Wake Forest (Saturday)

Jared McCain had one of the best individual performances we’ve seen from a freshman all season, scoring 35 points and shooting 8-for-11 from 3 in Saturday’s win at Florida State. He tied Zion Williamson’s program record for the most points in a game by a freshman. McCain’s line came with Tyrese Proctor sidelined — the same situation that prompted his breakout stretch back in December. In four games without Proctor, McCain is now averaging 22.5 points and shooting 60.7% from 3.

13. Auburn Tigers (20-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Georgia (Saturday)

After a week that included beating South Carolina by 40 then suffering their first home loss of the season, to Kentucky, the Tigers are quietly just 4-4 in their past eight games. The defense has struggled in certain games over the stretch, but it has been the offense that has gone missing too often. Auburn has been held below 0.93 points per possession three times and is shooting just 51.5% inside the arc over the eight games. It also shot a dismal 20.5% from 3 in the four losses.

14. Illinois Fighting Illini (19-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Penn State (Wednesday), vs. Iowa (Saturday)

Before Terrence Shannon Jr. was suspended in late December, he was playing at an All-American level. After taking a few weeks to round back into form, it’s fair to say he has regained that status. He had 28 points in the road loss at Michigan State last week, then went for 31 against Michigan and finished up with 27 points in Saturday’s road win at Maryland. He’s getting to the free throw line at an incredibly high rate, taking 34 free throws in the three games.

15. Creighton Bluejays (19-7)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. UConn (Tuesday), at St. John’s (Sunday)

Baylor Scheierman is playing the best basketball of his season, tallying six straight double-doubles and 20-plus points in five of his past eight games. He also notched a triple-double in last week’s win over Georgetown. Over the past six games, he’s averaging 21.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists, shooting 55.1% from the field and 37% from 3-point range. Scheierman, like the entire Creighton offense, struggled in the first meeting against the Huskies, finishing with 12 points on 11 shots, but he’ll get a chance at redemption Tuesday.

16. San Diego State Aztecs (20-6)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Utah State (Tuesday), at Fresno State (Saturday)

Outside of Kentucky, it’s hard to argue anyone had a more impressive week than San Diego State. The Aztecs bounced back from an overtime loss at Nevada with two wins over NCAA tournament teams in Colorado State and New Mexico, beating both by double digits. Their defense was back to an elite level, allowing just 11 points in the second half against the Rams, then holding the Mountain West’s best offense (the Lobos) to 0.92 points per possession and 35.5% shooting.

Dropped out: South Carolina Gamecocks (No. 10)



Ugonna Onyenso blocks Moussa Cisse’s shot

Kentucky’s Ugonna Onyenso swats Moussa Cisse’s shot away.

In the waiting room

Kentucky Wildcats: We talked about UK’s elite defensive performance earlier, but it’s worth noting Ugonna Onyenso fully took over the center position last week. With Tre Mitchell sidelined, Onyenso played 36 minutes against Auburn, while Aaron Bradshaw played three minutes and Zvonimir Ivisic saw one minute. Onyenso had seven points and 11 boards vs. the Tigers on Saturday after blocking 10 shots against Ole Miss on Tuesday.

Dayton Flyers: DaRon Holmes II rebounded nicely from his subpar performance against VCU with back-to-back dominant showings in wins over Duquesne and Fordham. He went for 24 points and 11 boards against the Dukes, then followed it up with 29 points and 10 rebounds to beat the Rams. Richmond‘s loss to UMass also put Dayton back atop the Atlantic 10 standings.

South Carolina Gamecocks: How will Lamont Paris’ team respond after facing its first real adversity of the season? The Gamecocks dropped two straight games: the first by 40 at Auburn and then at home to an LSU team that had lost six of seven entering the weekend. Their defense, which had been their calling card all season, especially in big wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, has allowed at least one point per possession in five straight games.


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