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NCAAB power rankings: Gonzaga and Baylor continue to rule

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

February 17th, 2021

With fewer than three weeks left in the regular season, the top of the college basketball power rankings have solidified, as the two best teams have separated from the pack.

However, after the top five or six teams, the situation is fluid.

Let’s look at how things stack up, after another wild week of college hoops.

1. Gonzaga (20-0)

The Bulldogs have not played a home game since Jan. 23, and it has not slowed them down one bit.

They picked up their fifth straight road victory with a 39-point win against San Francisco over the weekend. Drew Timme recorded 28 points and 10 rebounds, as Gonzaga made 10 three pointers and shot 61% from the floor.

Gonzaga’s season ends with two home games in the next four days, and barring a shock result, the Bulldogs will be unbeaten at the end of the regular season. They have a top seed in the NCAA Tournament locked up.

Up next: vs. St. Mary’s (Feb. 18), vs. San Diego (Feb. 20)

2. Baylor (17-0)

Baylor also has not played a home game since January. The Bears also haven't played a road game since Feb. 2, because of COVID-19 issues.

Rust could be an issue for the Bears, and they have a tough road to finish the season, with games against West Virginia and Kansas to end the year. If they run the table, their strength of schedule will likely see them jump Gonzaga for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Up next: vs. Iowa State (Feb. 23)

3. Michigan (14-1)

The Wolverines had their best performance of the season against a ranked Wisconsin team last week. They trailed by 12 points on the road at halftime, and had not played since Jan. 22, but outscored the Badgers, 40-20, in the second half.

The Big Ten title race is a three-team affair, and two of those teams will square off when the Wolverines face rival Ohio State on Sunday. Rutgers will be a solid warm-up opponent.

Up next: vs. Rutgers (Feb. 18), at Ohio State (Feb. 21)

4. Ohio State (17-4)

The Buckeyes beat down Indiana on Saturday in a 19-point win and have now hit at least half of their shots from inside the arc in nine of their last 10 games.

Ohio State has scored at least 1.06 points per possession over its last 10 games, and after the Buckeyes face Penn State on Thursday, they will square off with a Michigan defense that held Wisconsin to 0.62 points per possession in the second half last week.

Up next: at Penn State (Feb. 18), vs. Michigan (Feb. 21)

5. Illinois (15-5)

The third team in this Big Ten dance is Illinois, which is “tied” with Michigan atop the conference standings, even though it has played four more conference games.

However, the Illini struggled to defeat the two worst teams in the conference last week. Guard Ayo Dosunmu took over against Nebraska in an overtime win but had an off game in a seven-point victory over Northwestern.

Illinois has two ranked opponents in their final six scheduled games, but its next two are against another pair in the bottom half of the standings. They need to play better this week or they might find themselves slipping down the list.

Up next: at Minnesota (Feb. 20), at Michigan State (Feb. 23)

6. Alabama (17-5)

The Crimson Tide is one of our big movers this week, as Alabama rebounded from a close loss at Missouri with a pair of wins. The Tide earned a three-point win at South Carolina, then returned home to drop 115 points on Georgia.

Eight different players made a three-point basket in the Georgia win, as Alabama became the first SEC team to score 115 points in a conference game in 25 years. With its game against Texas A&M postponed because of inclement weather, the Tide has just four games left to go in conference play.

If Alabama wins out, it will have an outside chance at the final No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Up next: vs. Vanderbilt (Feb. 20)

7. Oklahoma (13-5)

The Sooners jumped up this week, on the heels of a one-point win at West Virginia in double overtime. It was their fifth "Quad 1" victory of the season and gave them a season sweep over the Mountaineers.

Their big showdown with Texas was also postponed because of the icy conditions in the region, so if it is not rescheduled, they will end the season with four unranked opponents. A loss against a soft remaining schedule could cost Oklahoma a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Up next: at Iowa State (Feb. 20), at Kansas State (Feb. 23)

8. Villanova (13-3)

It was an up-and-down week for the Wildcats.

First, they defeated Marquette, 96-64, on the strength of a 13-for-22 performance from beyond the arc. Then they went to Creighton and got blown out, 86-70.

The Bluejays shot nearly 60% from the floor, and the Villanova defense has been poor. It continues to be the Wildcats' biggest weakness, one they will need to shore up if they hope to secure a No. 2 in the NCAA Tournament.

Up next: vs. Connecticut (Feb. 20), vs. St. John’s (Feb. 23)

9. Virginia (15-4)

The Cavaliers could have made a solid jump up the rankings this week, following strong wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina. That was before Monday night, however, when they were blitzed by Florida State in an 81-60 defeat.

They have just four games remaining and should be favored in each.

Up next: at Duke (Feb. 20)

10. USC (17-3)

Nobody is talking about the Trojans, but they should be. Ranked in the top 10 in adjusted defense, they are one of the hardest teams in America to score on inside the arc. They have now won 12 of their last 13 games, with their last defeat on the road, in a two-point loss almost a month ago.

Strength of schedule has been an anchor on the Trojans, but you can't knock their winning ways.

Up next: vs. Arizona State (Feb. 17), vs. Arizona (Feb. 20), vs. Stanford (Feb. 22)