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NCAA Top 25 Rankings

Brandon Wagenfeld, Blueprint Staff

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It’s now February and March Madness starts in nearly six weeks! This season has been one for the ages and we’ve seen teams rise and fall without warning. We’ve also seen upsets come out of nowhere (e.g. Marquette against Villanova) and shake up the rankings.

The Top 10 has been especially volatile as of late, with Kansas, Kentucky, Florida St., North Carolina, and Villanova all suffering upsets within the span of one week.

Without further ado, I present my ranking of the top 25 teams in college basketball.

 

1.Gonzaga (22-0)

The Bulldogs are the only undefeated team left in Division I basketball, albeit being in the West Coast Conference where their only real competition is St. Mary’s which they beat handily, 79-56, back on January 14. Other than that, they have nice wins against Florida, Iowa State, and Arizona.

 

2. Villanova (20-2)

There’s not much to say about the Wildcats. Their only two losses come against Butler and Marquette. They’re still my favorite to win it all.

 

3. Baylor (20-1)

Baylor’s record is incredibly impressive, especially since they are at the top of the most unforgivingly competitive conferences in the NCAA, the Big 12, followed by Kansas and West Virginia (against whom the Bears suffered their lone loss, albeit by 21 points).

 

4. Kansas (19-2)

Kansas is another one of my favorites to win the championship and is currently tied with Baylor at the top of the Big 12. Their next game will break the tie, but they should feel pretty good about their wins against Duke and Kentucky, despite losses to West Virginia and Indiana.

 

5. Arizona (20-2)

I will admit that I’ve been sleeping on Arizona a bit, but I woke up after their road victory against UCLA. They are 12-0 at home and 5-0 on the road, their only two losses being neutral court games (this may or may not be concerning as NCAA tournament games are “neutral,” but it probably means nothing). Their upcoming game at Oregon will be an intriguing one.

 

6. Virginia (16-4)

Virginia is a victim of a tough schedule, especially being in the ACC, having suffered tough losses to Villanova, Florida St., and West Virginia, but still having great road wins over Notre Dame and Louisville.

 

7. West Virginia (18-4)

Factoring in its victories over Baylor and Kansas alone, the Mountaineers should be considered one of the top 5 teams in college basketball and a favorite to win it all. However, I have to penalize them for recent losses to Kansas St. and Oklahoma (AT HOME!!!). If they want to win the NCAA Championship, they are going to have to take every game seriously even if their opponent doesn’t seem overly intimidating (see: Stephen F. Austin last year).

 

8. Louisville (18-4)

Like all of the teams listed above, Louisville is having another solid season. They’ve suffered tough losses to Baylor, Florida St., Virginia, and Notre Dame, but have impressive victories over Duke and Kentucky.

 

9. UCLA (19-3)

UCLA has been one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, being one of the last teams to lose their first game. They’ve lost to both of the top two Pac 12 teams (Arizona and Oregon) but have an impressive road victory over Kentucky, snapping their home winning streak. Being a fairly young team, it’ll be interesting to see how they fare as the season goes on.

 

10. North Carolina (20-4)

North Carolina has been solidly chugging along this year. Despite their relatively low ranking, they will still be a dangerous team come March. They have disappointing losses against Kentucky and Miami, but impressive wins over Wisconsin and Florida St. They will probably hover around the 5-8 range by the end of the season and secure a 2 or 3 seed in the tournament, depending how they finish in the bloodbath that is the ACC.

 

11. Wisconsin (19-3)

I truly haven’t paid enough attention to the Badgers or the Big Ten as a whole this season. They’ve been great, but have been overshadowed by elite teams in the ACC and Big 12. If they continue to play like this, though, they will be hard to ignore. They are currently at the top of the Big Ten, tied with Maryland, and look to continue moving up the NCAA rankings.

 

12. Kentucky (18-4)

Kentucky, like UCLA, is an incredibly young team, and has shown some serious flashes of promise. They’ve beaten North Carolina, but they also lost to Tennessee. Still they’ve played close games against UCLA, Kansas, and Louisville, nearly coming out on top. Their season will depend on how well and how consistently the freshmen perform.

 

 

13. Florida State (18-4)

Despite disappointing losses to Georgia Tech and Syracuse over the past two games and a home loss to Temple earlier in the season, the Seminoles boast one of the most impressive resumes of any college basketball team this year. They’ve beaten Duke, Virginia, Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame in a stretch of 6 ACC games wherein they only lost to North Carolina. They also beat Florida early on in the season. Look for them to be dangerous in this year’s tournament.

 

14. Oregon (19-3)

The Ducks are currently 2nd in the Pac 12 and hold victories over UCLA, USC, and Utah. Before their disappointing loss to Colorado they boasted a 17-game winning streak, especially considering that they are in the Pac 12. They have a game against Arizona coming up soon that will be very important to their confidence. Beating Arizona could bring them into the conversation of being a top-10 team.

 

15. Duke (17-5)

Duke has experienced an up and down year, getting more attention for Grayson Allen’s tripping and Coach K’s absence and punishment of the team than actual on-court play. They’ve lost to Florida St, Louisville, and Kansas, but recently secured an impressive road victory against Notre Dame. The Blue Devils are arguably the most talented team in college basketball, but need to put it all together.

 

16. Maryland (20-2)

The Terrapins have been hovering just below the Top 25 for most of the season, but I feel like I’ve been higher on them than most. They don’t have a signature win or a devastating loss, but are at the top of the Big Ten and have definitely not gotten the credit that they deserve.

 

17. Cincinnati (19-2)

The Bearcats have won 12 straight and are 8-0 in conference play. SMU is their only real challenger in the AAC, but holding them back from being ranked higher is the fact that they have no signature win. They lost to Butler, but have not beaten any top teams.

 

18. Butler (18-5)

The Bulldogs were the first team to beat Villanova. They also have impressive wins over Arizona, Indiana, Cincinnati, and Xavier. However, they have also suffered disappointing losses to Georgetown, St. John’s, and Indiana State. If the Bulldogs want to win the NCAA tournament, they’re going to have to get past the middling teams first.

 

19. Notre Dame (17-6)

The Irish have struggled recently, losing three straight, including two to unranked opponents, and will have to play North Carolina next. If they don’t get their season together soon, they might not even be guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. I’m sure it’s too early to sound the alarm as Notre Dame has always been a fairly good team, but they will be a team to look out for, whether they start winning again or continue to lose.

 

 

20. St. Mary’s (19-2)

St. Mary’s has quietly been a great team, not getting too much attention due to being in the WCC, a conference only mentioned when talking about Gonzaga. They’ve blown out nearly every game they’ve played, but they haven’t beaten any great teams and also lost by 20+ to Gonzaga, not promising for their conference title hopes.

 

21. Purdue (17-5)

I haven’t been as high on Purdue as some, but they’ve still been fairly solid. They’ve beaten both Wisconsin and Notre Dame and almost beat both Villanova and Louisville, but have had a couple of disappointing losses. They probably should be higher, but the NCAA as a whole has been fairly good this year.

 

22. SMU (18-4)

The Mustangs are second in the AAC behind Cincinnati and have been fairly solid. They haven’t had much competition except for the Bearcats, which they almost beat. Their biggest win was against TCU awhile back, but they’ve still been solid.

 

23. South Carolina (17-4)

The Gamecocks, like the Bearcats, don’t have a signature victory. Despite that, they are still tied with Kentucky at the top of the SEC, and sit at 2nd due to a recent “tiebreaking” loss. They will have a relatively easy schedule coming up as they don’t have another game against a ranked opponent for about three weeks.

 

24. Florida (16-5)

Florida has been the third best team in a fairly deep SEC. While their record is good, they haven’t had any huge wins outside of the SEC, losing to both Gonzaga and Duke. They also lost to South Carolina, but they have a home game against Kentucky coming up soon. If they don’t win this game, it would be a huge loss for their SEC title hopes.

 

25. Xavier (15-6)

Xavier hasn’t lived up to expectations, losing to Villanova, Baylor, Butler, Creighton, and Cincinnati. They only good team they’ve beat thus far is Utah, and that was early in the season. As of late, they have lost four of six, and are in danger of dropping out of the Top 25 altogether.

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NCAA Top 25 Rankings