College Basketball Power Rankings 2017: Week 7 Rankings

Despite this past week being somewhat lite on the intriguing ranked vs. ranked contests, there were still plenty of close calls and shocking upsets. With the exception of Wichita State losing to Oklahoma, the top five programs in college basketball held serve due to playing some relatively easy opposition. Nevertheless, the likes of Villanova and Michigan State took care of business against tenacious although supremely inferior opponents. With that being said, there were still plenty of upsets near the bottom of the rankings as the Gators, Fighting Irish and Seminoles all succumbed to unranked opponents. As a result, several newcomers were able to break into the top 25 rankings and assert themselves (at least for now) as some of the most competitive programs in college basketball.

1. Villanova Wildcats

With Big East play commencing in just a couple of weeks, the ruthless scorers of Villanova will get to display their Showtime capabilities in the national spotlight consistently. Although the Wildcats are not particularly efficient at rebounding the basketball, their propensity for hitting outside shots and driving the basketball to the hoop consistently has allowed them to not be dependent on this typically essential facet of most elite programs.

2. Michigan State Spartans

Unquestionably, the Spartans have the elite talent on their roster to shut down any opponent on defense (62.4 PAPG). However, if they can establish any type of consistency as an offensive unit, they will inevitably become the best program in college basketball. While the Spartans have yet to reach this lofty potential, the fact that they have yet to play their best basketball and have lost one contest (vs. Duke) this year, future opponents that have to contend with this program should be shaking in their boots.

3. Arizona State Sun Devils

While it’s difficult to view this Sun Devils program as anything but a high-octane offense, their most recent victory over Vanderbilt was particularly impressive in that it proved that Arizona State can play decent defense when their offense is not firing on all cylinders. Although the Sun Devils will most likely not be considered an elite defensive program at any point this season, if they can get enough stops down the stretch while their offense hits clutch shots, this is a team that will continue to baffle and defeat almost every opponent that they match up with.

4. Duke Blue Devils

Considering the Blue Devils were on furlough this week, there is not much to unpack for what is obviously a highly talented and well-coached program. The only thing holding this perennial National Title contender back is a killer instinct on defense and offense, something that should emerge as a natural facet for this Blue Devils team that is still establishing the necessary continuity amongst its freshman-laden roster.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

Playing in a tough environment against a hungry Tennessee program, the talented Tar Heels pulled out the necessary stops on defense and hit clutch free throws down the stretch to come out with a highly impressive win. Although the Tar Heels could play better team defense (71.3 PAPG), their prolific offense has done more than enough this season to overshadow their imperfect defensive play.

6. Kentucky Wildcats

Despite being the youngest team in college basketball, John Calipari and the Wildcats have slowly but effectively established a strong offensive identity (81.3 PPG). Although the defense has been prone to being inconsistent from time to time, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have stepped up as the Wildcats clutch shooters in tight games. While the SEC looks to be particularly deep and competitive this season, the Wildcats have all of the necessary elements to eventually be the top team in the conference by the end of the season.

7. Miami Hurricanes

Although their offense has been completely erratic this season, the fundamentally sound defense of the Hurricanes has been able to pick up the slack without many issues this season (56.3 PAPG). Although the one-dimensional style of play of Miami could cost them some tight games in the ACC this season, they have the benefit of being one of the most well-coached teams in the country while having a highly athletic and talented starting five that has the potential to be prolific on offense.

8. Texas A&M Aggies

Aside from a loss in a defensive grudge match against Arizona, the Aggies confidently utilized their size and unselfish offense to shut down their respective opposition. With one of the more competitive non-conference schedules in college basketball, the Aggies will most likely begin conference play with just one loss on their record and will have comfortably established themselves as a physical defensive program that almost always converts their extra opportunities into crucial scores on the other end of the court.

9. West Virginia Mountaineers

A 10-game winning streak. They have allowed their opponents to score more than 70 points only twice during their win streak. These pithy statements epitomize the dominance and well-balanced nature of a West Virginia program that has overcome one overly confident opponent after another. Scoring 85.4 PPG and holding the opposition to 65.4 PPG, the Mountaineers have yet to look anything less than elite since losing their first game of the season to Texas A&M. With Big 12 play commencing in a couple of weeks, the versatile Mountaineers will get a chance to sharpen their teeth against arguably the deepest conference in college basketball.

10. Xavier Musketeers

Aside from a near upset against Eastern Tennessee State, the Musketeers have been a dominant scoring program (88.4 PPG) that has recently stepped up on defense (have held their opponents to 76 points or less during their five-game winning streak). Although the Musketeers recent lapse offensively is slightly concerning, this one loss program has proven on more than one occasion that they are capable of playing to their strengths while improving their weaknesses as the season progresses.

11. Kansas Jayhawks

Although the Jayhawks were able to avoid disaster in a too close for comfort win over Nebraska, this is a program that has looked incredibly inconsistent on both offense and defense recently despite leading college basketball in assists per game (20). The most glaring weakness for the Jayhawks has been their lack of efficiency when it comes to rebounding the basketball, something that has robbed this prolific offense of the necessary opportunities needed to be competitive in what appears to be a well-balanced Big 12 conference.

12. Gonzaga Bulldogs

After escaping in a close call victory against North Dakota, the Bulldogs are fortunate that their most recent lapse on defense did not result in an embarrassing upset at home. Offensively, the starting five for the Bulldogs are capable of both scoring (all five starters average double-digit point scores per game) and rebounding the ball (starting five average no less than 3.4 RPG) with impressive efficiency. If Gonzaga can minimize their lackadaisical nature when it comes to silly turnovers (14 TPG), this is a program that has all the intriguing pieces to make another run at a National Title.

13. Wichita State Shockers

Despite the elite efficiency of the Shockers on offense (86.5 PPG, 17.9 APG), their inconsistent efforts on defense have cost them two crucial games against the highly competitive opposition. In particular, the Sooners overwhelmed the Shockers defense to the tune of a 91-83 drubbing on the Shockers home court. While the aforementioned loss does not diminish how well-coached and disciplined this team is, their lack of a dominant athlete on their roster could be to their detriment against prolific scoring programs.

14. TCU Horned Frogs

Although the Horned Frogs defense has been decidedly average this season (72.4 PAPG), their tenacious offense (87.3 PPG) coupled with their talented capabilities as a passing unit (19.2 APG) has allowed them to rise quickly to the top of the BIG 12. With Kenrich Williams fearlessly leading his team on both offense (14.2 PPG) and defense (2.7 SPG), the Horned Frogs have rallied time and again behind their athletic leader and have rarely taken ill-advised shots as a result of Williams exemplary efforts every game (53.1 FG%, 43.1 3P% has a team).

15. Purdue Boilermakers

Competitively fierce on both offense (85.6 PPG) and defense (65.3 PAPG), the white-hot Boilermakers have put their back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky way back in the rearview mirror. During their seven-game winning streak, the Boilermakers have allowed their opponents to score more than 70 points only once and have themselves produced point totals of less 74 points only once this season. If the Boilermakers can maintain this type of well-balanced efficiency on both offense and defense, they could feasibly challenge Michigan State for top honors in the Big 10 conference.

16. Virginia Cavaliers

From the first game of the season to now, the Cavaliers have lived and died by their soul-crushing defense (53.3 PAPG). Despite a 9-1 record, the Cavaliers have been overly reliant on Kyle Guy (17 PPG) and Devon Hall (13.3 PPG) to carry this team offensively. While both of the aforementioned athletes have been fantastic, this team needs much more production from their three other starters when it comes to scoring if they hope to avoid an inevitable slide, which almost always occurs when a team is completely lopsided on either offense or defense.

17. Baylor Bears

While the Bears have been defensively sound program throughout the season (66.7 PAPG), they have struggled to produce offensively against ranked opponents (scored points totals of just 63 and 62 against Xavier and Wichita State respectively). Still, the Bears have dominated their lesser opponents, suggesting that this team has the talent and fundamentals to be great. However, the Bears will have to put up a much more concerted effort on both offense and defense if they hope to stay relevant in a highly competitive Big 12 conference.

18. Cincinnati Bearcats

Teetering on the brink of falling out of the rankings, the scrappy Bearcats got back to what made them an intimidating defensive force earlier in the season (60.8 PAPG) in their last two victories. Winning in dominating fashion over both UCLA and Mississippi State, the Bearcats confidently oppressed the opposition thanks to the opportunistic defensive play of Jacob Evans (1 SPG, 1.5 BPG) and Gary Clark (1.5 SPG, 1.5 BPG). Inevitably, the Bearcats will need to be more consistent on offense at some point this season if they hope to contend with an ultimately overcome the elite programs in college basketball.

19. Arizona Wildcats

The mark of a truly great team comes when what appears to be insurmountable adversity actually strengthens the resolve of a talented program. Since losing three games in one week earlier in the season, the resurrected Wildcats have emphatically forced themselves back into the national spotlight as they have won five games in a row (two of the five wins were against Alabama and Texas A&M). If the immensely talented Wildcats can overcome a nearly flawless Arizona State program at the end of the month, it will be incredibly difficult not consider them a sleeper National Title contender.

20. Oklahoma Sooners

With a decisive win over a third-ranked Wichita State program recently, the offensively tenacious Sooners have proven (for now) that their scoring dominance (93 PPG) is enough to overcome a less than impressive defense (80.4 PAPG). Thus far, Trae Young has almost single-handedly carried this program as the teams leading scorer (28.8 PPG) and passer (8.9 APG). However, the Sooners have several unsung heroes on their roster when it comes to rebounding the ball, the most notable of which are Khadeem Lattin (8.4 RPG) and Brady Manek (5.3 RPG).

21. Clemson Tigers

Despite being a dominant albeit one-dimensional defensive program (64.4 PAPG), the surging Tigers have rarely faltered this season en route to a 9-1 record. Although the Tigers do not possess anyone on their roster that averages more than 15.5 PPG, all five of their starters are averaging double-digit figures when it comes to points per game. As a result, the Tigers have been able to rely on multiple shooters at any given time and have not been beholden to one particular superstar to carry them to victory.

22. Seton Hall Pirates

Just when it appeared that the Pirates were emerging as one of the best teams in the Big East, they lost in devastating fashion to defensively stout Rutgers program. Although the aforementioned loss is by no means an indictment against the talent and versatility of the Pirates, it has exposed this team’s occasional deficiencies on offense. If the Pirates still have ambitions of taking over the Big East at some point this season, Desi Rodriguez has to show up as the teams consummate rebounder against the reputable opposition (pulled down just two rebounds apiece in both of the Pirates losses and garnered less than five rebounds only once in all of the Pirates victories).

23. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Although the Red Raiders may not be undefeated (see TCU) and lack a reputable pedigree (see WVU), they have actually been one of the more well-rounded and tested teams in college basketball this season (have defeated two top 25 programs this season). With an impressive blend of scoring (81.6 PPG) and defending (60.3 PAPG), the Red Raiders have consistently and effectively played their style of basketball even in their lone loss to Seton Hall (have yet to allow an opponent to score 80 points this season).

24. Louisville Cardinals

Despite the tumultuous internal issues surrounding this severely maligned program, the Cardinals have been one of the most resilient teams in college basketball. Since losing back-t0-back contests to Purdue and Seton Hall, the pesky Cardinals have won their last four games fairly soundly. Assuming Deng Adel can continue to lead by example with his impressive shooting capabilities (16 PPG, 49.2 FG%), the Cardinals could actually be an intriguing sleeper program in the ACC as the season progresses.

25. Creighton Blue Jays

Quietly, the Blue Jays have won three games in a row with an impressive combination of a developing defense (71.6 PAPG) and highly prolific offense (90.2 PPG). Although Khyri Thomas has essentially been the Blue Jays lone elite defender (1.4 SPG), Creighton has been able to do enough as a team when it comes to taking high percentage shots from the field (51.6 FG%) while consistently scoring points from the charity stripe (73.3 FT%). With a matchup against UT Arlington coming up next, the Blue Jays will need to be particularly efficient on both sides of the court to overcome this vastly underrated non-conference opponent.

Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis Will Move On After This Season
Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis Will Move On After This Season
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