NCAAB Power Rankings: Louisville Cardinals are flying high

Jason Ence

November 20th, 2019

What a difference a week makes. Following Kentucky’s stunning defeat to Evansville, the Wildcats have fallen all the way out of our Power Rankings, even though they held the top spot last week. In their place steps their bitter rival, Louisville, and the Cardinals bring four pals from their conference in this week’s top 10. It’s still early in the season, but the ACC flavor in this week’s rankings is strong.

1. Louisville

A win over a conference foe away from home, and an offense scoring at least 78 points in all four wins, has the Cardinals sitting at the top of the rankings this week. They do not have a "big" win on their résumé that some teams have, but their average margin of victory sits at 23.5 points and they look as strong as expected. Darius Perry continues to run with the point guard position, with 6.5 assists per contest, and Jordan Nwora has scored at least 17 points in each game.

Up next: South Carolina Upstate, Akron

2. Duke

The Blue Devils have made a strong case for the top spot in our rankings, and they are ranked as the top team in both polls, but there are still a few questions about how good their freshmen are going to be. They are 4-0, but they beat Georgia State by only 11 points, and only led by two points at the halftime break. Tre Jones has picked up the slack so far this season and scored 31 points to lead Duke to the Georgia State win.

One concern for the team? The Blue Devils are shooting just better than 30% from three-point range this season.

Up next: California

3. Michigan State

The Spartans have won three straight since an opening-night loss to Kentucky, including a road win over 12th-ranked Seton Hall, when they got 17 second-half points from freshman Malik Hall. If Hall can provide more consistent scoring for this offense, it will give the team more inside-outside scoring balance and will make a dangerous team even better. It also helps that freshman Rocket Watts, playing for the injured Joshua Langford, continues to improve each game.

Up next: Virginia Tech

4. North Carolina

Cole Anthony continues to wow everyone with his outstanding play, after he dropped 28 points on Gardner-Webb to drive his scoring average up to 27.3 through three games. He is also pitching in at the defensive end of the floor, with 7.3 rebounds per game.

The one concern is that only two other Tar Heels are averaging double-digit points so far, and outside of Anthony’s 44.8% shooting from three-point range, the team is shooting just 32.4% from behind the arc.

Up next: Elon

5. Ohio State

The Buckeyes shot up the rankings this week, after they took No. 10 Villanova behind the woodshed in a 76-51 win last Wednesday. That gives Ohio State two good wins early in the season, and the Buckeyes are allowing the 15th fewest points per game in the nation through their first four games. They will be tested over the next month, with Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia looming on the schedule.

Up next: Purdue-Fort Wayne, Kent State

6. Oregon

A win over No. 13 Memphis was part of a solid week for the Ducks, who are now 4-0 and have won by more than 18 points per game. There are few teams deeper than Oregon, as three different players have led them in scoring so far, and they are shooting 41.3% from three-point range, the 28th best rate in the country.

Up next: Houston

7. Maryland

The Terrapins are playing terrific basketball and they rolled over Oakland, 80-50, this weekend. They have five players averaging double figures in scoring, and considering how weak their first eight opponents are to start the season, they should find themselves climbing these rankings before they travel to Seton Hall in a month.

Up next: Fairfield, George Mason

8. Virginia

When you hold your first three opponents to fewer than 42 points apiece, it sends a message. Virginia is putting on a defensive clinic and has allowed less than 29% shooting in two of its three games, which has helped offset dismal (20%) shooting from three-point range.

Up next: Vermont, Massachusetts

9. Gonzaga

The Bulldogs are third in the nation in rebounding margin, as they continue to batter lesser opposition with their imposing size. Combined with their fourth-best scoring average per game, they have enjoyed four very easy wins. The win over Texas A&M is their only Power Five conference game, outside of an 11-day stretch in December, where they face Washington, Arizona and North Carolina.

Up next: Texas-Arlington, Cal State Bakersfield

10. Texas Tech

The Red Raiders haven’t beaten anybody noteworthy, but the fact that they’re playing this well  with a rebuilt roster says volumes about the job Chris Beard has done. Jahmi’us Ramsey and TJ Holyfield continue to lead the way and are averaging a combined 37.7 points per game on 66.7% shooting from the field.

Up next: Tennessee State, Long Island

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