Why wait until Monday morning for new power rankings? That’s our mindset for this college basketball season — a season that promises to see as many twists and turns as any in recent memory. So we’re going to put out new power rankings every day the results require it.
Kansas and Kentucky battled for our preseason No. 1 spot, and while Kansas lived up to the hype on the season’s opening night, the same can’t be said for Kentucky, which was obliterated by Duke. We usually don’t move teams to No. 1 or out of No. 1 that easily, but the Blue Devils’ beatdown of Kentucky was scary. We knew Duke had perhaps the highest ceiling of any team in the country going into the season and we saw that ceiling on Tuesday night. Right now, they’re the best team in college basketball.
Meanwhile, John Calipari came into the campaign confident about his group, but it’s clear there are still a number of kinks to work out, especially on the defensive end. Calipari will have to figure out his rotations and optimal lineups, because nothing seemed to work on Tuesday.
1. Duke Blue Devils (1-0)
This week: Beat Kentucky 118-84; Next game: vs. Army (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)
2. Kansas Jayhawks (1-0)
This week: Beat Michigan State 92-87
The biggest subplot coming out of Kansas’ win was the usage of Udoka Azubuike. Bill Self said Azubuike is the team’s No. 1 option — but teams are still fouling him late in games.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs (1-0)
This week: Beat Idaho State 120-97. Next game: vs. Texas Southern (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET)
While all eyes were on the Champions Classic, Gonzaga casually dropped 120 points on Idaho State in the Pacific Northwest. Rui Hachimura had 33 points.
4. Nevada Wolf Pack (1-0)
This week: Beat BYU 86-70. Next game: vs. Pacific (Friday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
5. Virginia Cavaliers (1-0)
This week: Beat Towson 73-42. Next game: George Washington (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Virginia sees the biggest jump from the preseason rankings, since the initial rankings came out before Braxton Key received a waiver to play immediately.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0)
This week: Beat Wofford 78-67. Next game: vs. Elon (Friday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
Full credit to Roy Williams for starting the season by going to Wofford and going to Elon. More elite teams need to play road games early, especially against mid-majors.
7. Auburn Tigers (1-0)
This week: Beat South Alabama 101-58. Next game: vs. Washington (Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET)
The Tigers are still a work in progress, given the various suspensions and injuries. But if they make 18 3-pointers like they did against South Alabama, they’ll be fine.
8. Tennessee Volunteers (1-0)
This week: Beat Lenoir Rhyne 86-41. Next game: vs. Louisiana (Friday, 9:30 p.m. SEC Network)
Another balanced effort for Tennessee, which had five players in double-figures, but no one with more than 18 points.
9. Villanova Wildcats (1-0)
This week: Beat Morgan State 100-77. Next game: vs. Quinnipiac (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
Jay Wright went with a veteran starting lineup in the opener, not starting a single freshman. Saddiq Bey came off the bench to score 16 points, though.
10. Kentucky Wildcats (0-1)
This week: Lost to Duke 118-84. Next game: vs. Southern Illinois (Friday, 7 p.m., SEC Network)
So they’re clearly not as good as expected — yet. Defense is the biggest issue, as they were completely run over by Duke’s freshmen scorers.
11. Oregon Ducks (1-0)
This week: Beat Portland State 84-57. Next game: vs. Eastern Washington (Friday, 9 p.m. ET)
We won’t see how good Oregon really is until the Ducks get fully healthy, which might not be until December.
12. Syracuse Orange (1-0)
This week: Beat Eastern Washington 66-34. Next game: vs. Morehead State (Saturday, 7 p.m., ACC Network)
Like Oregon, the Orange are dealing with short-term injuries — but their defense was more than enough on Tuesday, holding Eastern Washington to 34 points.
13. Virginia Tech Hokies (0-0)
This week: vs. Gardner Webb (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
The Hokies open the season on Friday without Chris Clarke, who is suspended indefinitely.
14. Kansas State Wildcats (0-0)
This week: vs. Kennesaw State (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Bruce Weber’s team might be Kansas’ stiffest competition in the Big 12, but there feels like a fairly large gap at this point.
15. Michigan State Spartans (0-1)
This week: Lost to Kansas 92-87. Next game: vs. Florida Gulf Coast (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET)
The Spartans are clearly behind Kansas in terms of their development, which is understandable. One bright spot was Kenny Goins, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
16. Florida State Seminoles (1-0)
This week: Beat Florida 81-60. Next game: vs. Tulane (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles move up from No. 19 to No. 16 after dominating Florida by 21 points — without Phil Cofer, who is out another five or six weeks.
Dropped out: LSU