NCAAB Power Rankings: Kentucky is king of the mountain

Jason Ence

November 12th, 2019

We are through one week of the college basketball season, and many of the top teams in the nation are preparing to devour some cupcakes before we get to the meat of the season. However, we did get a few answers as to who the title favorites are after the first week, and some musical chairs will be played within our power rankings. Let’s get to it!

1. Kentucky

What a difference a week can make. In recent years the Wildcats have had numerous questions about their defense early in the season and figured things out during the conference schedule. There is none of that this season, as the Wildcats are off to an impressive 2-0 start. Tyrese Maxey announced himself on the national stage with 26 points as the Wildcats took down No. 1 Michigan State. 69-62, in the Champions Classic.
Then a lot of questions were answered about UK’s frontcourt, as Nick Richards dominated Eastern Kentucky to the tune of 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in a defensive clinic.

This week: Evansville, Utah Valley

2. Louisville

We'll head 70 miles northwest to find the Cardinals, who had an impressive week and shot up the rankings. They opened the season with an 87-74 ACC win at Miami, and followed that up with a 78-55 home win over Youngstown State. Their questions about point guard play were somewhat answered, as Darius Perry scored 10 points and recorded 12 assists against Youngstown. Jordan Nwora lived up to expectations and averaged 22 points and nine rebounds in the two contests.

This week: Indiana State, North Carolina Central

3. Duke

The Blue Devils forced Kansas into a whopping 28 turnovers in their Champions Classic matchup and took down the Jayhawks in a 68-66 win. They followed that up with a dominant, 89-55 victory over Colorado State at home. Tre Jones scored 30 points and dropped 15 assists in the two games, and five players are averaging double digits in points through the first two games. The one concern for the Blue Devils is they are shooting only 26.1% from three-point range.

This week: Central Arkansas, Georgia State

4. Michigan State

Michigan State’s season began with a tough loss to Kentucky, but a much more painful loss hit the program Saturday night, when point guard Cassius Winston’s brother was killed after he was hit by a train. The senior guard suited up Sunday and scored 17 points, with 11 assists, in an emotional 100-47 win over Binghamton.

This week: Seton Hall, Charleston Southern

5. North Carolina

When Cole Anthony plays, get your popcorn ready. He dropped 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in his first collegiate game, a win over Notre Dame, and followed that up with another 20-point, 10-assist outing against UNC Wilmington. He is the real deal, and the Tar Heels offense looks like it will run exclusively through him. Given what he’s done so far, it probably should.

This week: Gardner-Webb

6. Gonzaga

When you beat two teams by a combined 81 points, regardless of competition level, folks are going to take notice. When you do it with three new starters, it makes those margins of victory even more impressive. Filip Petrusev lived up to his preseason expectations, averaging 20 points through the first two games.

This week: North Dakota, Texas A&M

7. Kansas

Normally I would not punish a team this much for losing to Duke, but the way Kansas played over their first two games raises serious questions. Turning it over nearly 30 times in any game is a serious problem. Following that up with a rough outing at home against UNC Greensboro—a game the Jayhawks led by only four at the half—sounds a few alarms. They were able to blow the game open to a 20-point lead in the second half, but the jury is still out on just how good this team is.

This week: Monmouth

8. Maryland

The Terps were impressive in an opening 24-point win over Holy Cross, and they followed that up by with an 18-point defeat of Rhode Island. Jalen Smith was a force in both games, averaging 17.5 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in a pair of double-double performances.

Maryland will need to improve its outside shooting, however, as the Terps went 11 of 46 from three-point range in the two games.

This week: Oakland

9. Oregon

The Ducks had a great start, as they opened with a 71-57 win over Fresno State and trounced Boise State, 106-75. Oregon was paced by Payton Pritchard, who averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and seven assists in the two contests, but it was senior guard Anthony Mathis who opened eyes with a 9-for-11 performance from three-point range against the Broncos.

This week: #13 Memphis, Texas-Arlington

10. Texas Tech

Despite having to reload the cupboard, there was little drop-off to start the season for the Red Raiders. They defeated two overmatched opponents by a combined score of 164-104 and did so while shooting 51.3% from the field and 44.1% from three-point range. Senior TJ Holyfield averaged 17.5 points over the two games and made 15 of his 18 shot attempts.