Kentucky and North Carolina each began the season ranked in the top 20 of the AP Top 25 poll and managed to climb even higher throughout November, despite earning no victories of consequence in the season's first couple weeks. Now, at long last, the Wildcats and Tar Heels have verified their legitimacy with impressive victories over quality opponents.
UK crushed No. 8 Miami 95-73 on Tuesday in one of the single most impressive performances from John Calipari's program in recent memory. Considering that the Wildcats' marquee accomplishment prior to obliterating the Hurricanes was a close loss to Kansas, it was a needed dose of validation for a freshman-laden roster.
North Carolina followed up with a dynamite offensive performance in a 100-92 win over No. 10 Tennessee on Wednesday as RJ Davis, Armando Bacot and Harrison Ingram each reached 20 points. That win, combined with Friday's neutral-site victory over Arkansas in the Battle 4 Atlantis suggest UNC is in for a bounce-back season.
Following their big wins in recent days, Kentucky and North Carolina are also making their first appearances in the CBS Sports power rankings. These aren't about predicting what's in store or relying on what happened last season or over the course of history. They're about who's doing what on the court -- right now -- and who they're doing it against.
With that, here are the latest CBS Sports power rankings.
College basketball power rankings
|Purdue begins its Big Ten title defense Friday at Northwestern in a sneaky tough league opener for the Boilermakers, who absolutely rolled through the first three weeks. A Maui Invitational title with wins over Gonzaga, Tennessee and Marquette will stand the test of time and ensure Purdue will be well-seeded in the NCAA Tournament yet again, regardless of how Big Ten play goes. Last week: 1
|Arizona's wins at Duke and on a neutral floor against Michigan State highlight a nonconference run that could get even sweeter in the coming weeks. With games against Wisconsin, Purdue, Alabama and FAU still ahead, the Wildcats have a chance to reclaim the No. 1 spot before Christmas. Last week: 4
|UConn is riding the nation's longest active win streak at 13 games, dating back to its loss in the Big East Tournament championship game last season. All of UConn's victories this season have come by double digits, including wins over Indiana and Texas in the Empire Classic. Keeping that run alive at Kansas on Friday would be awfully impressive. Last week: 2
|Marquette's only blemish is a 78-75 loss to Purdue in the Maui Invitational title game. The Golden Eagles have a road win over Illinois and neutral site wins over UCLA and Kansas heading into a fun in-state game at Wisconsin on Saturday. Last week: 3
|Kansas has nice wins over Kentucky and Tennessee on its resume entering a fantastic Friday home showdown with reigning national champion UConn. The Jayhawks seemed to be looking ahead to that one when they struggled to beat lowly Eastern Illinois at home on Tuesday. Last week: 5
|Colorado State made one heck of a statement with a 69-48 win over Creighton in the Hall of Fame Classic last week. The Rams crushed the Bluejays 69-48 before improving to 7-0 with an 88-83 win over Colorado on Wednesday. Point guard Isaiah Stevens is the best college basketball player many casual fans haven't heard of. Last week: NR
|Who knows what Year 1 in the Big 12 has in store. But for now, the Cougars are off to a blazing 6-0 start headlined by wins over San Diego State, Arizona State and NC State. Given the ease of its remaining nonconference schedule, BYU could be unbeaten when it opens league play vs. Cincinnati on Jan. 6. Last week: 11
|Baylor's offensive attack has been lethal through the season's first three weeks. The Bears scored 88 in a win over Auburn and 95 in a win over Florida. Entering Saturday's game against Northwestern State, the Bears rank first nationally in 3-point shooting at 44.3%. Last week: 13
|Houston won the Charleston Classic with victories over Utah and Dayton. The Cougars have not been tested against a truly great foe, though. A Friday game at Xavier may be a challenge, but the Musketeers are 4-3 and just lost to Oakland at home. Last week: 10
|"They were competitive against Kansas" made for a lousy résumé for Kentucky until Tuesday night. That's when the Wildcats made a statement with a 95-73 win over previously unbeaten Miami. It was one of UK's best single-game performances of the last several seasons. Last week: NR
|Oklahoma is looking like a potential surprise team in the Big 12 after beating Iowa and USC in the Rady Children's Invitational. The Sooners are 6-0 with a chance to add more meat to their resume with games against Providence, Arkansas and North Carolina leading up to Christmas. Last week: NR
|Clemson's win at Alabama flew under the radar Tuesday night as the undercard to Kentucky vs. Miami. But the Tigers picked up the marquee nonconference victory their resume so desperately needed last season. Brad Brownell's club is 6-0 entering its ACC opener at Pitt on Sunday. Last week: NR
|Liberty is 6-0 with wins over NCAA Tournament teams Furman and Vermont entering Thursday's showdown with FAU. The Flames also have respectable victories over Charlotte and Wichita State as Ritchie McKay is off to a great start on the quest for an eighth straight 20-win season. Last week: 18
|James Madison is 7-0 after beating Buffalo on Wednesday. The Dukes have road wins over Michigan State and Kent State to go with a Cancun Challenge title. Could JMU be this year's FAU? Last week: 15
|Speaking of the Owls, FAU made up for its stunning loss to Bryant by beating Butler, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech to win the ESPN Events Invitational. Whether the Owls stay in the power rankings next week will be determined by their performance against Liberty on Thursday. Last week: NR
|Memphis produced a dud performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game against Villanova. But the Tigers' wins over Missouri, Michigan and Arkansas are enough to keep them ranked entering a Saturday road test against unbeaten Ole Miss. Last week: 7
|Tennessee held 22 of 36 opponents below 61 points last season. North Carolina scored that many on the Volunteers in the first half of a 100-92 win on Wednesday. The Tar Heels also own a neutral-site victory over Arkansas at the Battle 4 Atlantis and are looking much-improved offensively compared to last season. Last week: NR
|Gonzaga's lone loss came against Purdue, and it has decent wins over Syracuse and UCLA. The Bulldogs have tests against USC, Washington, UConn and San Diego State ahead that will determine their trajectory entering the monotony of WCC play. Last week: 19
|Ole Miss finally validated itself with a 72-52 win over NC State on Tuesday after opening the Chris Beard era with a cupcake schedule. The Rebels just learned that two-time transfer center Moussa Cisse is now eligible, which will give one of the best shot-blocking teams in the nation another elite rim protector. Last week: NR
|Virginia's 65-41 loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 20 is still tough to reconcile. But the Cavaliers appeared to get back on track Wednesday with a 59-47 victory over Texas A&M. Last week: NR