By: Sean Golonka
Preseason power rankings for college basketball are basically pointless. We know barely anything about what the top teams are really like, and that only changes once they’ve actually played a couple games.
So now that we’re about two weeks into the college basketball season, it’s time to rank the top teams in the nation. And these rankings aren’t going to be biased by some inaccurate preseason rankings.
- Duke Blue Devils
Duke is DOMINATING! They’re averaging almost 100 points. All three of their wins have come with ease. Zion Williamson has more points, dunks, assists, and blocks than missed shots this season. R.J. Barrett is averaging just as many points as Zion. Cam Reddish has shown flashes of sharpshooter supremacy. Even Tre Jones is leading the ACC in assist to turnover ratio.
- Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas has two impressive victories over Michigan State and Vermont. Udoka Azubuike has been a force on the inside. Lagerald Vick went 8-8 from three in a game. Quentin Grimes looks like an elite freshman guard. And potentially their best player, Dedric Lawson, hasn’t even started to make an impact.
- Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines absolutely killed Nova in their National Championship rematch, and their defense has unsurprisingly been the epitome of elite. Unfortunately for other teams, the Big Ten team has found some solid sources of offense outside of Charles Matthews, namely in the form of Ignas Brazdeikis.
- Gonzaga Bulldogs
This offense is humming. Josh Perkins and Geno Crandall have been dishing and diming at an impressive level. Zach Norvell has been lights out. Brandon Clarke has been unstoppable inside (and on the glass). And Rui Hachimura has played Naismith-level ball.
- Auburn Tigers
With the help of some new players and some players returning from suspension, Auburn has looked like the best SEC team. They destroyed South Alabama and MS College without breaking a sweat, and they even took down a deep Washington team by over 20, even while shooting just a tiny bit over 40%.
- Nevada Wolfpack
Even though this team is brimming with talented transfers, it’s been the returnees that have made this team look so impressive. Cody Martin is putting up double-digit assists. Jordan Caroline is shooting 12 of 21 from deep. And Caleb Martin is getting to the line a ton on his way to averaging almost 22 a game, while helping UNR get two seemingly effortless victories.
- North Carolina Tar Heels
With an average margin of victory of 26 points per game, the Tar Heels have jumped out to an easy 3-0 start playing very traditional Roy Williams UNC basketball. Luke Maye is doing his thing, Cameron Johnson, Garrison Brooks, and Coby White make the number of UNC starters averaging double figures four, and Nassir Little has put his talent on display, scoring 21 on Elon off the bench.
- Virginia Cavaliers
This team does not look shaken by an embarrassing loss to 16-seed UMBC in the first round of last year’s tournament (still hilarious, by the way). They’re continuing to play tremendous defense, as they’ve held opponents to just 31 makes in their first two games, and Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, and De’Andre Hunter are collectively averaging over 45 a game.
- Tennessee Volunteers
The defense has been spectacular. Admiral Schofield is averaging 12, 8, and 5. Kyle Alexander and Jordan Bone are putting up a joint 27 a game. And Grant Williams still looks like the best player in the SEC, as he leads the Vols in scoring and rebounding. Williams is even making it splash at a particularly impressive 57% clip.
- Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana is back! The Hoosiers killed the Chicago State. They destroyed Montana State. And they even made the ranked Marquette Golden Eagles look like the worst team in the Big East. Most importantly, Romeo Langford is averaging 18-4-2 and is just an absolute wonder to watch on the court,
- Buffalo Bulls
The Bulls are coming off a year in which they beat Arizona in the tournament. And they’ve already kicked things off with one of the most impressive wins of the young season at West Virginia. Oh, and C.J. Massinburg is the best player in the MAC.
- Michigan State Spartans
Despite one close loss to the number two Kansas, this is still a team led by Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston, and Nick Ward. More importantly than that and the Spartans’ high-scoring offense, some of the newcomers have made a solid impact, like freshman forward Aaron Henry.
- Kentucky Wildcats
Okay, Kentucky was dominated by Duke. But I’m about 1000% positive that Duke would destroy any team they played, probably even more impressively than the way in which they dismantled the Wildcats. Back to Kentucky though, this is still a big, long team that gets to the line and bullies opponents on the inside.
- Florida State Seminoles
PJ Savoy is averaging an efficient 17. Terance Mann is a rebound short of a double-double average. Trent Forest is putting up a solid 13-4-5. And perhaps the most talented Seminole, M.J. Walker, is far from playing his best basketball.
- Kansas State Wildcats
The defense is shutting opponents down. And with the only player taller than 6-9 having played just a single minute so far this season, Dean Wade is stepping up big time on the glass, as he’s grabbing 12 boards a game.
- Nebraska Cornhuskers
To say that Nebraska has looked dominant would be a severe understatement. Through three games, they’re outscoring opponents by an average margin of 48 points. And they really have been equally impressive on both sides of the ball. James Palmer is averaging 27 points per 36 minutes. And the team is holding players to less than 27% shooting from the field. Unreal.
- Virginia Tech Hokies
Going into a game against a tough Northeastern team that took down Alabama, the Hokies have five players averaging double figures in points, most notably Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The Canadian sophomore guard is 21-6-4, and he’s been disruptive defensively on his way to leading this team to an impressive pair of wins.
- Ohio State Buckeyes
After losing Keita Bates-Diop and a number of other top talents, the Buckeyes are exceeding expectation so far this season. Chris Holtmann has looked like one of the best coaches in the country, as he’s led his team to a couple surprise road victories at Cincinnati and Creighton.
- UCLA Bruins
The Bruins lost two tremendous talents to injury before the season even began, but UCLA has still managed to have an impressive start to the season. Following a pair of solid wins, this team is top-20 in scoring offense, as Kris Wilkes, Moses Brown, and Jaylen Hands are combining to average a whopping 56 a game.
- Vanderbilt Commodores
Perhaps I’m inflating this team’s ranking, but I love, love, love Darius Garland. And after a couple of solid wins over USC and Winthrop (both talented teams), Garland is averaging over 21, while Simisola Shittu is putting up a nice 16 and 12.5. This team also just added former Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer.
(bonus) 21. Furman Paladins
This team probably isn’t worth of being somewhere in the top 20 or 25 of any rankings, but I felt inclined to include them after Jordan Lyons dropped an absurd 54 points with an even more absurd 15 made threes in this team’s fourth win.