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CBB Top 20: Who’s #1?, UNC Makes Statement & Is Purdue Serious?

New top 20 rankings

The teams in the top 10 will look familiar for the most part, but the number next to their name may look different. Top ranked Kentucky was pinned down by UCLA and Maryland fell victim to Marcus Paige and North Carolina.

How far up should the Heels go?

Is Kentucky out of the top five?

Who’s number one?

All of those questions and more have been answered for you.

1. Michigan State Spartans – Raise your hand if you thought Tom Izzo’s Spartans would look like the best team in the country this early. I’m willing to bet not many thought this would be the case.

Typically, Sparty starts off a little slow and gets better as the season goes on.

In an elite eight rematch against Louisville this past week, Sparty came away victorious, 71-67. Just like he has all season, senior, Denzel Valentine, led the way with 25 points, 7 dimes and 5 rebounds.

Opponents this week: vs. Maryland Eastern Shore and vs. Florida.

Duke ranked number 2

2. Duke Blue Devils – Ever since their loss to Kentucky, the Blue Devils have rattled off six straight, winning by an average margin of 17.5 points per game, including a 20-point victory over the Indiana Hoosiers.

We all know what Grayson Allen is capable of, but it’s been the emergence of freshman star, Brandon Ingram, that’s captivated Duke to the next level.

This past week, Ingram averaged 23.5 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game.

Opponents this week: None.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels – The return of Marcus Paige has everything back to normal in Chapel Hill.

In his first game of the season, Paige led his Heels to a huge statement victory over Maryland.

“The first shot went down — it wasn’t a great shot — but I was feeling it, so I shot it,” Paige said. “Once that went in, I kind of relaxed and was like, ‘All right you’re fine, just play your game.'”

The senior guard finished with 20 points, 5 dimes and 2 boards.

Opponents this week: @ Texas. 

4. Oklahoma Sooners – In their lone game this past week, the Sooners poured in 111 points against Central Arkansas, which was their highest total since 1996, when they scored 119 against Colorado.

Preseason All-American, Buddy Hield, has led the way with averages of 21.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 dimes per game.

While the Sooners have wins against Memphis and Wisconsin, their first true test will come today against Villanova.

Opponents this week: @ Villanova and vs. Oral Roberts. 

5. Iowa State Cyclones – Although the Cyclones don’t have any marquee wins on their resume, with majority of their team back from a season ago, this is a team with all of the tools to be in Houston this upcoming April, at least from an offensive standpoint.

We know they can put up points with the best of them, but their defense is the main thing that could hold them back.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be able to get a better grasp of how far they’ve come along on that side of the ball.

Opponents this week: vs. Buffalo, vs. Iowa and vs. UAPB.

Kansas ranked number 6

6. Kansas Jayhawks – Scoring points isn’t a problem for the Jayhawks, as they rank third in the country in total points.

The problems have been rebounding and defense, which is why the clearing of Cheick Diallo was huge. The 6-foot-9 forward has only appeared in two games, averaging 8.5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks per game.

Nonetheless, Kansas struggled a bit in those two games.

The contest against Loyola (Maryland) was close at halftime before Kansas blew it open in the second half and over the weekend, Harvard gave the Jayhawks all they wanted.

Opponents this week: vs. Holy Cross and vs. Oregon State.

7. Maryland Terrapins – With all eyes on the Terps in their highly anticipated matchup with former ACC rival North Carolina, Maryland fell short, 89-81.

This game was like a mid-term test. It was a great barometer to see where Maryland stood as a team and while they undoubtedly have work to do, head coach Mark Turgeon came away encouraged.

“I think we really believe in each other,” Turgeon said. “I didn’t love our team until tonight. I really liked them, but this is going to make us a lot better.”

Opponents this week: @ UCONN and vs. Maryland Eastern Shore.

UCLA upsets Kentucky

8. Kentucky Wildcats – It feels like a distant memory when Kentucky dominated Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago.

Since that early season statement game, the Wildcats haven’t looked dominant as you would expect against lesser competition. They only beat Wright State by 15 and were tied with Illinois State at halftime, only winning by 12.

So, we should’ve seen them losing to UCLA on the road from a mile away, right?

John Calipari realizes this team has a long way to go.

“We’ve had a pretty good run. Now we’ll see if we can get it going again.”

Opponents this week: vs. Eastern Kentucky and vs. Arizona State.

9. Villanova Wildcats – If you love team basketball, here’s your team to watch.

Villanova has four players averaging double figures, Josh Hart (15.3), Ryan Arcidiacono (12.4), Kris Jenkins (12.3) and Jalen Brunson (11.1).

On the flip side, they haven’t faced anyone of significance, but that will change with their showdown against Oklahoma tonight.

Opponents this week: vs. Oklahoma and vs. La Salle.

Purdue enters top 10

10. Purdue Boilermakers – This is the best team no one is talking about.

Not only are the Boilermakers 8-0, but they also have some quality wins. Florida, Pittsburgh and New Mexico have all been victimized.

What makes the Pittsburgh win more impressive is that it was on the road and they played without captain/defensive leader, Rapheal Davis.

Opponents this week: vs. IUPUI, vs. Howard and vs. Youngstown State. 

Teams on the outside looking in: (11) Arizona Wildcats, (12) Virginia Cavaliers, (13) Xavier Muskateers , (14) Baylor Bears, (15) Providence Friars, (16) West Virginia Mountaineers, (17) Miami Hurricanes, (18) Vanderbilt Commondores, (19) Gonzaga Bulldogs, (20) Louisville Cardinals.