Men’s college basketball Power Rankings: A top 5 shake-up after Purdue gets itself knocked off No. 1

Perhaps before the end of the season we will have a week of calm at the top of the power rating.

Even with the chaos on the rest of the field, the trio of Purdue, Alabama and Houston looked pretty solid. According to research by Sportzshala Stats & Information, last Saturday was the fourth Saturday in the last five weeks that at least eight ranked teams lost. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers, Crimson Tide, and Cougars split into their own levels.

Or so we thought.

Perdue lost at the Northwest on Sunday afternoon, the second loss in three games. The Boilermakers retained their top spot after losing to Indiana the previous weekend because their performance was still stronger than the rest of the contestants. But their resume isn’t bulletproof enough to withstand a second loss in eight days.

Thus, Alabama rises to the top again, and Houston moves to second place. The Crimson Tide profile fits the bill. They rank #1 in resume-based metrics, including Sportzshala rankings. They rank in the top three for every predictive metric, including #2 in KenPom. They also have the second most Quadrant 1 and 2 wins in the nation with 13. The road win in Houston is also a good trump card to keep in your back pocket.

What will this week bring? Well, Alabama is due to head to Tennessee on Wednesday – the only game in the rest of the season that Crimson Tide is likely to lose. Meanwhile, Houston and its top predictive ratings are biding their time when Nate Oates’ team falters. Or will Purdue get a chance to return to the top?

Only a month until Election Sunday…

Team of the Week: Northwestern Wildcats

It was no big secret that Chris Collins entered the 2022-23 season in a hot spot. Since he led them to their first NCAA Tournament in 2017, the Wildcats have finished below .500 for five consecutive seasons, winning seven or fewer Big Ten games in each. They were ranked 13th in the Big Ten pre-season poll. But after last week, the Northwestern will likely return to dancing, and Collins’ immediate future is potentially safe.

The Wildcats opened the week with a road win in Ohio State, where Boo Bui and Brooks Barnheiser scored 19 points each, and the Northwestern used a late second-half surge to confuse the Bakeevs. But the best win of the week came at a time when much of the country was preparing their Super Bowl turns. In the final minutes, the Cats went 12-1 ahead to defeat No. 1 Purdue 64–58. Buje had 26 points and the Wildcats had 16 turnovers, some of them in the last Boilermaker possessions. Chase Audie scored 15 points, including a third corner late in the game. Northwestern is now 18-7 overall, 9-5 in the Big Ten and has won six of their last eight games.

Player of the Week: Tyree Appleby, Wake Forest Demon Deacons

With so many big teams having big weeks, there was no obvious option for Player of the Week. Vanderbilt’s Liam Robbins, Texas A&M’s Wade Taylor IV, Baylor’s Adam Flagler and Indiana’s Trace Jackson-Davies all cheered, but Appleby gets the upper hand.

He started the week with a terrific performance against North Carolina, finishing the game with 35 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists (on one assist) and an incredible 23-of-28 on the free throw line. To take his free throws a step further, he made 13 from the streak in the last two minutes to seal the victory over the Tar Heels. Appleby backed that up with 16 points and six assists in a one-point win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, buoying Wake Forest’s freedom hopes. Once again, he was very tenacious, hitting six in the last two minutes, including a layup with 13 seconds left to give the Demon Deacons a one-point lead, and then two more free throws with two seconds to go.

On top of that, he made a NIL deal with Applebee’s. Or, if he gets his way, Appleby.

Wins of the week: Vanderbilt Commodores 66, Tennessee Volunteers 65; Missouri Tigers 86, Tennessee Volunteers 85

Duel buzzers! How could we get past this? I’m guessing Missouri is getting the upper hand since his victory came at Knoxville; but Vanderbilt’s victory was certainly more surprising. Both teams also played for the Team of the Week, with the Tigers kicking off their week with a win over South Carolina, while Vanderbilt traveled to Florida and beat the Gators on Saturday. There really isn’t much to add, so let’s just look at the two winners of the game.

Another mention concerns Stanford, who beat Arizona on Saturday night. It was the Cardinal’s first home win over the Wildcats since 2009, and the program’s highest scoring win since defeating UCLA (then No. 3) in January 2007.

Coach of the Week: Mike Boynton, Oklahoma State Cowboys

Over the past month, the Cowboys have gone from just over .500 and looked like potential candidates to finish last in the Big 12 to a likely NCAA Tournament team with a five-game winning streak. And in a week that Tennessee lost by two (twice!) OSU went to Ames on Saturday and defeated Iowa State 64-56, the Cyclones’ first loss at home all season. He also opened the week with a home win over Texas Tech when John-Michael Wright finished the game with three points with 0.4 seconds left to give the Cowboys a three-point victory. Boynton and his team endured a rocky 2021-2022 season after the NCAA banned the program for the postseason, but he turned things around and got the Cowboys back on track to hear their names in qualifying Sunday.

Three teams with questions

Auburn Tigers: The Tigers aren’t in danger of being knocked out of the NCAA tournament picture yet, but their home loss to Alabama on Saturday was their fifth loss in six games and another missed opportunity to win, improving their resume. They are just 2-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents and their best victories come against Arkansas and the Northwest.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Everything looked promising for the Nittany Lions after starting 11–3, including wins over Illinois and Iowa, but they have now lost four in a row and eight of 11 since Jan. 1. They fell to 5–9 in the Grand Tournament. Ten. The defense was a huge problem, allowing at least 1.14 points in four consecutive games.

New Mexico Lobos: Once the last undefeated team in men’s college basketball, New Mexico is now the focus of the NCAA Tournament. On Friday, the Lobos lost their third game in a row, losing 12 points to the Air Force. They are also now only 6-6 years old in Mountain West and still need to travel to Boise State and take over San Diego State.

Strength Rating

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (22-3)
Previous rating:
This week: in Tennessee (Wednesday) vs. Georgia (Saturday)

Nate Oates has been a remarkable performer in his freshman class all season and is now receiving support from yet another 2022 rookie. Rylan Griffen led the team in scoring on Saturday against Auburn, scoring 16 goals off the bench on three of five attempts from three-point range. This is the fourth time in the past five games that he has scored at least 12 points, and he has reached that mark only three times in the first 20 games of the season. In that five-game span, he’s hitting 54.2% from three, after hitting 28.8% of three in his first 20 games.

2. Houston Cougars (23-2)
Previous rating:
This week: at SMU (Thursday) vs. Memphis (Sunday)

For the first time in nearly a month, Houston had a singles week with little to no stress, leading Tulsa by 38 points. One name to keep in mind for the next month is freshman Emanuel Sharp. The Tampa native has played sporadically throughout the season but provides Calvin Sampson with a consistent shooting option when needed. Seventy-eight of his 95 shots from the field this season have been accurate, and he shoots them with 40% accuracy. He also shoots 92% from the free throw line. Sharp hit double figures in scoring six times, despite averaging 14.9 minutes and having four DNPs.

3. Purdue Boilermakers (23-3)
Previous rating:
This week: Maryland Terrapins (Thursday) vs. Ohio State (Sunday)

Purdue have lost two of their last three games after losing 64-58 at the Northwest on Sunday afternoon. Last weekend’s loss to Indiana was mostly defensive, but Sunday’s loss was by some distance Purdue’s worst offensive performance of the season. The Boilermakers really struggled from the perimeter, scoring just 5 of 22 of 3, and the usually reliable Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer combined to score 2 of 13 from the field. RPM was another issue, and it was the third straight game in which Purdue coughed out at least 23.9% of their holdings. Boilermakers are now in last place in the “Big Ten” in conference turnover percentage, which is worrisome as March approaches.

4. Kansas Jayhawks (20-5)
Previous rating:
This week: at Oklahoma State (Tuesday) vs. Baylor (Saturday)

If the Kansas minors perform the same way they did in two games last week, Bill Self will feel a lot better about the Jayhawks’ chances in the NCAA Tournament. In a 15-point loss at Iowa State last weekend, Jalen Wilson scored 26 points while the rest of the team scored just 27. Those numbers reversed sharply against Texas on Monday. Wilson hit single digits for the first time all season, while the rest of the team totaled 86 points, including five players in double digits. Then against Oklahoma, Wilson shot 7-of-17 from the field and Grady Dick held on to eight, but Dajuan Harris Jr. (16 points) had another strong offensive game and Kevin McCallar…


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