You put your head down to lock in on the start of the college hoops season and the next thing you know December is already here. With more than 1,500 games under our belts, power rankings season is officially back. (And if rankings are really your thing, here's a nugget for you: The NCAA will unveil the 2022-23 NET rankings to the public on Monday.)
Now, if you're new to the place or unfamiliar with how this goes, here's my annual introductory rundown of what exactly these power rankings are about. They'll run each Thursday of the regular season. They will have 19 teams, and why 19 teams, you wonder? Because most everyone else predictably does power rankings with 16 or 25 teams. I aim, instead, to be a bit quirky. Quirky is good. Nineteen is just enough teams ... while still leaving you wanting more. And because Steely Dan is one of the all-time great American musical outfits, I call this weekly echelon of team-listing the Hey Nineteen.
What's more, I am not ranking teams based off NCAA Tournament credentials or looking to mirror each week's AP Top 25. (You can already get those things in other places.) This is a bit more interpretive than just staring at records and making a list. This is a ranking of schools based upon how good I think the teams are AND, crucially, how well they've been playing as of late. Each week, I'll post about teams on a positive trend line based on their previous two or three weeks worth of performances. How teams are represented in multiple metrics is also sometimes a factor. That's about it. Oh, and if you're a mid-major with a gaudy record, I sometimes show a little favoritism.
Courteous feedback is always encouraged: tweet me: @MattNorlander.
|Record: 7-0 No team put up a better combination of win quality + undefeated record + style of victory in November than the undefeated Boilermakers, which got out of the month without a scratch thanks to Wednesday night's road win at Florida State. Zach Edey is the early frontrunner for national player of the year. Per Purdue, Edey's six-game run of scoring at least 20 points is the third longest streak for a 7-foot player in the last 25 seasons. Beyond that, freshmen guards Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer have 42 assists vs. 23 turnovers this season.|
|Record: 6-0 Preseason readers of CBSSports.com aren't surprised to see Virginia back in the mix nationally. But this good this early? That's a twist almost nobody had coming. The Cavaliers have defeated three top-50 teams: Baylor, Illinois and Michigan. All those wins came away from home. Here's the scary thing. Of course UVA is known for its defense, but how about the Hoos averaging 45.2% from 3 through six games? That's No. 2 nationally. Even if that percentage levels out around 41 or 42%, it's going to put Virginia in a commanding position in the ACC.|
|Record: 7-0 It's been almost 40 years (March 14, 1983) since Houston last held the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll, but that drought ended Monday. To get a sense for how special this is, Houston previously only reached the poll summit when Elvin Hayes, Don Chaney, Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were on campus (in the late '60s and then in the mid '80s). It's a big moment for Kelvin Sampson as well; he never reached No. 1 at any of his previous stops. The Cougars have a wily test Saturday in Fort Worth against Saint Mary's.|
|Record: 5-0 The Longhorns look almost as good as the new building they're playing in, the Moody Center. It's early, I know, but Chris Beard landing Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter could be the ingredient to get Texas a Big 12 title this season. The Longhorns have one significant win thus far, a home domination of Gonzaga. Get ready, though. On Thursday, another ranked team will play in Austin: Creighton at Texas is the best game of the night. And before Week 2 of the Hey Nineteen publishes, Texas will have a matchup in New York against Illinois at the Jimmy V Classic.|
|Record: 8-0 I was in Portland for the PK85. An 83-59 drubbing of Oregon, in which the Huskies made a school-record 17 treys. An 82-67 breakaway victory over Alabama that was witness to preseason Big East POY Adama Sanogo going for 25 points. And a 71-53 over-the-shoulder dismissal of Iowa State, a game that saw freshmen Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban prove how deep this team is. UConn's never won eight straight under Dan Hurley until now. Clearly playing like a top-five team.|
|Record: 6-0 Tommy Lloyd's Wildcats were a mainstay in the power rankings a season ago. Didn't necessarily expect U of A to be this high so soon, but obviously this group deserves it. It's been off for more than a week since winning the Maui title. Now that December's here, early Pac-12 play has arrived with it. Arizona will play at Utah on Thursday night, then host Cal on Sunday. With a win vs. the Utes, Lloyd would be 40-4 to start his coaching career.|
|Record: 7-0 Indiana is responding well to its hyped season. It'd been six years since Indiana cracked the top 10 of the AP poll, and lookie here: into December without a scratch. The Hoosiers were two steps ahead of North Carolina all Wednesday night in their 77-67 win. Indiana now claims a 10-6 advantage all time over the Heels. IU's best win is the one at Xavier, and another road challenge is around the bend. A roadie against Rutgers on Saturday awaits.|
|Record: 6-1 There's a top-10 affair going down in Austin, Texas this evening. The Bluejays are playing their fourth consecutive top-30 KenPom opponent, all of those games coming away from home. The first three were a week ago in Maui (wins over Texas Tech and Arkansas, a two-point loss to Arizona in the championship game). The Jays have been as good as the preseason billing thanks to a return to top-tier offensive stylings, which wasn't why Creighton made the NCAAs last season. It was the defense that got 'em there.|
|Record: 6-1 What team has the No. 1 per-possession defense? These Volunteers. They'd be flawless in the loss column if not for that quizzical 78-66 loss the opening week of the season in Nashville against Colorado. Rick Barnes' team amended that mistake by winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, culminating that run with a title game victory over Kansas. The Vols have re-established their top-10 bonafides while not having a full roster. Josiah-Jordan James has been hampered with knee soreness, which has kept him off the floor for the past four games.|
|Record: 7-1 The Jayhawks have three wins vs. high-major programs and will go for a fourth on Thursday when Seton Hall comes to town. Bill Self's team played poorly vs. Tennessee over the weekend. Otherwise, it's been a nice follow-up to the national title game. Jalen Wilson (22.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.6 apg) has been a top-five player through the first three weeks. His teammate, Gradey Dick, has arguably been the nation's best freshman.|
|Record: 7-0 Among the more pleasant surprises in November. A month ago, Maryland felt like a 50/50 proposition to make the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Now it's more like 75/25. Kevin Willard is the only coach in Terps history to start a tenure 7-0. Maryland doesn't have a signature win yet, but that opportunity is fast approaching. The Xfinity Center is on pace for a sellout in College Park on Friday night. Illinois is coming to town. It's the biggest game in that joint since Feb. 29, 2020. (for Michigan State-Maryland.)|
|Record: 6-1 My preseason pick for Big Ten champion has come out strong. The only loss came against Virginia in Las Vegas on Nov. 20. Illinois has gotten everything it could have asked for and more out of Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr., who's putting up 19.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists while sinking 43% of his 3-point tries. That Shannon has been that good while Coleman Hawkins is capable of triple-doubles? They'll need that forthcoming: Maryland and Texas (at MSG; I'll see you there) are the next two.|
|Record: 5-2 Mark Few told me in Portland that he's never put together a harder non-con schedule than this year. (Gonzaga is my highest-rated two-loss team because of this.) To recap: Michigan State on an aircraft carrier; at Texas; vs. Kentucky at Spokane Arena; Purdue and Xavier at PK85; vs. Baylor on Friday, and that game is in South Dakota; home vs. a good Kent State team on Monday; home vs. Washington on Dec. 9; finally at Alabama (in Birmingham) on Dec. 17. The Zags have had a 1-seed résumé four years running, but that probably ends this season.|
|Record: 6-1 The Crimson Tide won the season's first four-overtime game on Sunday with a 103-101 scramble of a victory against North Carolina at the PK85. I caught the end of it, and Oats was smiling like a kid on Christmas after getting that W. Oats has a team that can compete for the SEC title if it can get its turnover issues under control. Jahvon Quinerly is back after tearing his ACL, and he'll probably need another couple of weeks to get fully up to speed.|
|Record: 7-0 The Tigers have only one good win so far — a home one against a good Saint Louis squad — but given everything the Tigers lost after last season, a 7-0 start is worth commending. How about this one: Auburn lost Walker Kessler, the top shot-blocker in high-major basketball, and yet according to KenPom, AU is No. 1 in block rate nationally without Kessler. The Tigers should improve to 8-0 by Friday night, though the team coming to Auburn is Colgate, which did win at Syracuse.|
|Record: 7-0 The most overlooked undefeated team in the country, at least among power conferences. Chris Jans has instituted a belief into Mississippi State immediately. The Bulldogs have yet to allow a team to crack 56 points. There are neutral-court wins over Marquette and Utah. With a largely anonymous roster, Jans has guided MSU into the top 30 at KenPom.com and could get through the nonconference undefeated. What a story that would be for a program constantly in search of relevance.|
|Record: 6-1 By no means was this intentional, but here it is: a fourth straight SEC team on the list. The Razorbacks finally got heralded freshman Nick Smith Jr. on the court (briefly) in the Hogs' win Monday over Troy. But they traded one player for another, as veteran guard Devo Davis has left the team for undisclosed reasons and indefinitely. The university released a statement Monday and included their support of Davis' decision to step away. San Jose State is next, this weekend.|
|Record: 6-1 Horned Frogs fans are much more excited about football at the moment, given the program's on the precipice of its first College Football Playoff berth. Understandable! But If Georgia, Michigan and USC are going to be the other three teams in the Playoff — or even if it's Ohio State that gets in there — you know what? TCU might still have the best chance of any school to make the CFP and the Final Four in the same season. TCU entered this season 14th in the AP Top 25, its highest preseason mark.|
|Record: 7-1 The Hurricanes have continued their trend of quiet success under Jim Larrañaga by clearing victories against Providence, UCF and Rutgers, the last one commencing Wednesday night in Coral Gables. I'd guess The U pops in and out of the Hey Nineteen all season, as this team will be capable of beating anyone except maybe Virginia on the road in the ACC. The good news: Miami doesn't have to play at UVA this season.|