During Selection Week in March, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee will select the best 36 at-large teams to join the 32 automatic qualifiers to play in the Division I men’s basketball championship. Each week of the season, Andy Katz will rank his best 36 teams based on results to date. These rankings are his own and are in no way affiliated with the committee.
This is the time of the season when you’ve got to earn spots in the Power 36 and any other poll. This isn’t a list of who is in and who isn’t in the tournament as of right now.
And quite simply — Syracuse, Villanova, Wichita State and West Virginia — four teams that were in the poll last week — didn’t get it done this past week to hold their spots. So, they’re out for now. Don’t worry, though, I’ve got faith they’ll all be back here shortly.
Here’s the newest Power 36.
1. Duke (last week 1): The Blue Devils destroyed possible MAC Buffalo-challenger Eastern Michigan. Zion Williamson had 21 and nine and continues to be must watch. The Maui Invitational begins Monday against San Diego State.
2. Kansas (2): Lagerald Vick burst back onto the scene last week with 32 and 33 points in two wins over Vermont and Louisiana. The NIT Season Tip-Off in New York will provide a significant test with Marquette up first and then either Tennessee or Louisville.
3. Gonzaga (3): The Zags play Illinois in Maui Monday after crushing Texas A&M last week behind Zach Norvell’s 22. The big news is the board work of Brandon Clarke, who has had 13 and 11 boards in the past two games.
4. Virginia (4): The best news for the Cavaliers is De’Andre Hunter scoring 20 in the win over Coppin State. Remember, Hunter did not play against UMBC in the NCAA tournament last March. A pesky Middle Tennessee State awaits this week.
5. North Carolina (5): Seniors are stuffing the stat sheet for the Tar Heels. Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams and Luke Maye are making sure no one forgets this team has the experience to win big. The Tar Heels will get two major tests later this week in Las Vegas against Texas and then either Michigan State or UCLA.
6. Michigan (20): The Wolverines had the best week of any team, trouncing Villanova and then in a quick turnaround beating George Washington and Providence at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The Wolverines have the look of being a team that could get to the top of the Big Ten and compete for a deep run.
7. Auburn (6): It shouldn’t matter that the points came against Mississippi College. Getting Austin Wiley to put up 18 points after missing last season is a significant development for the Tigers. We’ll learn much more about Auburn this week in Maui. The Tigers open up against Xavier Monday.
8. Tennessee (7): Grant Williams is off to another SEC player of the year start with 31 and 22 in his past two games. The Vols have the look of a seasoned team here in November. Louisville and then Marquette or Kansas are on tap this week in New York.
9. Michigan State (8): The Spartans are getting quality board work out of Kenny Goins, one of the unheralded players on the Spartans roster. He’s a double-figure rebounder, which could be a massive help for the Spartans. Michigan State will take on UCLA in Las Vegas and then North Carolina or Texas later this week.
10. Nevada (9): Eric Musselman was all in on the hype for freshman big Jordan Brown. It was only going to be a matter of time and it happened against Little Rock as he put up an efficient 12 points and 11 boards. The Wolf Pack should learn more about their squad in Las Vegas when they play Tulsa.
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11. Florida State (11): I’m not sure why everyone isn’t all in on the Seminoles. They went to the Elite Eight and return most of their team. They crushed Florida and then won at Tulane by 11. This team is the real deal. Since Villanova is struggling, the pick to win the Advocare Invitational in Orlando should be Florida State this week.
12. Kentucky (12): The Wildcats didn’t move since they didn’t play a high-level game since the opening loss to Duke. But that’s OK. The Wildcats have time to get their act together — especially defensively — before the gauntlet of their non-conference season starts later in December.
13. Kansas State (14): The Wildcats are plowing ahead at the Paradise Jam with a Monday final set up against former rival Missouri. If Kansas State wins this game it will continue a new trend of the Wildcats winning the games they should at this time of the season.
14. Nebraska (15): The Huskers didn’t win their Gavitt Games event last season, falling at St. John’s. But they demolished Seton Hall. Nebraska has another chance to show they aren’t last season’s Huskers by winning the Hall of Fame tournament in Kansas City this week.
15. Buffalo (16): The Bulls’ win at Southern Illinois was significant because it came after Buffalo won at West Virginia. Buffalo had been on the road and knocking off the pesky Salukis will go down as one of their better wins. This team is no joke.
16. UCLA (18): Moses Brown. Moses Brown. Moses Brown. He’s making quite a first impression this season. Now, he’ll get a chance to show the country just how much of a stat stuffer he can be when the Bruins play Michigan State and then either Texas or North Carolina in Las Vegas.
17. Iowa (NR): The Hawkeyes’ biggest question was whether or not they could defend. Well, Iowa was the best team in the 2K Classic in New York, beating Oregon and then UConn, which had beaten Syracuse. Iowa has the look and feel of being a tournament team here early in the season. If they can keep the momentum going, then Iowa City should be hopping this season.
18. Indiana (17): The Hoosiers dominated Marquette in every facet of the game but then fell at Arkansas Sunday to a punishing performance from Daniel Gafford. Indiana looked the part at home. Now the Hoosiers must be as tough defensively on the road.
19. Ohio State (22): The Buckeyes weren’t a consideration for an NCAA berth or a high Big Ten finish. Well, once again, I wasn’t alone on being wrong about Ohio State. The Buckeyes won at Creighton to give Ohio State two true road wins this season, with the first one being at Cincinnati.
20. Virginia Tech (34): The Hokies put up a strong effort and beat Purdue Sunday to win the Charleston Classic. The Hokies are getting great balance so far this season. All good signs so far.
21. Purdue (19): The Boilermakers slid back after losing to Virginia Tech. Purdue has the possible national player of the year in Carsen Edwards. But they’ve got to hold onto leads, a lesson learned against the Hokies.
22. Iowa State (23): The Cyclones enter the Maui Invitational this week as one of the more intriguing squads. Lindell Wigginton didn’t play in the win over Mizzou. He will need to be a factor for Iowa State to get out of Maui with some momentum and a win or two.
23. Clemson (24): The Tigers haven’t hit the strong part of their non-conference schedule yet. So, why have them in the top 25? I believe in this squad. They will be a top tier ACC team.
24. Wisconsin (29): The Badgers got the revenge they’ve been seeking since Xavier came into the Kohl Center and chomped them up. Wisconsin pulled away at the Cintas Center for an impressive W. And then later in the week Ethan Happ became the all-time rebounding leader at UW. Wisconsin heads to Atlantis with big momentum on its side.
25. Texas (27): The Longhorns have the win over Arkansas on a neutral court. And after the Hogs took down Indiana Sunday; that win is going to look stronger. This is a huge test for Texas, playing North Carolina in Las Vegas and then either UCLA or Michigan State on day two.
26. Butler (33): Maybe Jay Wright was correct. He told me in the preseason that the Bulldogs may be the team to beat in the Big East. The Bulldogs haven’t played the level of competition as Nova, Marquette or Providence yet, but they do look the part of a possible Big East champ.
27. UCF (NR): The Knights slid out of my Power 36 after losing at home to FAU. But then UCF proved that was more of an anomaly by winning the Myrtle Beach Classic in South Carolina with a Sunday win over Western Kentucky. They are the team to beat in the AAC.
28. Oregon (21): The Ducks have a star in Bol Bol and a team that will be a good watch throughout the season. Oregon got beat by a team clicking at a higher clip in Iowa but then dispatched Syracuse rather easily Friday night.
29. LSU (32): The win over Memphis will have shelf life. This is a team that is going to improve each and every week. The talent level is too high for it not to at this juncture.
30. Minnesota (31): The Gophers got a quality win over Utah at home to start the week and Sunday night squeezed out a win over Texas A&M in Vancouver. A game against Washington awaits the Gophers, which will be a quality barometer for both schools.
31. Mississippi State (30): The Bulldogs haven’t played up or equal yet in the schedule. That time is coming and we’ll see just how ready they are to make the jump to being an SEC contender with a matchup against Arizona State Monday in Las Vegas.
32. Saint Louis (NR): The Bilikens are the team to beat in the Atlantic 10. I’m still high on Davidson, ultimately, but SLU is looking like a veteran squad with transfers blending to form a viable conference champ. SLU went on the road and took down Seton Hall for the first challenge of the season.
33. St. John’s (NR): The Red Storm may have the most talent in the Big East. But they had to prove they wouldn’t fold in games they should win. They didn’t, taking care of Rutgers on the road. The Red Storm should beat Cal at the Legends Classic in Barclays and then either Temple or VCU. This is a good test for the Red Storm.
34. Furman (NR): The Paladins make the Power 36 after winning at Villanova, a week after winning at Loyola-Chicago. Furman won’t have an easy time winning the SoCon but the Paladins have made their mark with two high-level true road wins.
35. TCU (35): The Horned Frogs aren’t healthy yet. But they are winning the games they should. The schedule toughens up in the coming weeks.
36. Houston (36): The Cougars are still waiting to challenge themselves. But fear not, this squad can ball. It’s just a matter of time before everyone sees they are an AAC contender. The first real test comes next Saturday at BYU.
Team of the Week
Michigan: The Wolverines, not Villanova, looked like the team that could get back to the Final Four. Michigan thoroughly dominated the Wildcats at the Pavilion. But Michigan wasn’t done. The Wolverines went to Connecticut and dispatched of George Washington and Providence rather handily. The Big Ten is much deeper this season and the Wolverines are now one of the favorites to win the conference title.
Player of the Week
Jordan Lyons, Furman: The Paladins shocked Villanova in overtime 76-68 behind 17 from Lyons. Earlier in the week, against non-Division I North Greenville, Lyons made 15 3s in the 107-67 win. Furman already has a win at Loyola-Chicago. The key for Furman will be to win the games they are supposed to and then see if they can go for the trifecta and knock off LSU in Baton Rouge on Dec. 21. Do that, and Furman would have three wins against teams likely in the field before they get to the Southern Conference. Lyons is average 23.4 points a game. The 5-11 junior guard is shooting over 40 percent on 3s and from the field.
The backup five
1. Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan: The freshman wing, who goes by Iggy, made his presence felt this past week with 18 against Nova and 20 against the Friars. You know when Brazdeikis is on the floor.
2. Paul Jorgensen, Butler: Kamar Baldwin got preseason headlines for the Bulldogs but Jorgensen will create plenty of news cycles if he continues to score like he did against Ole Miss (27).
3. Lagerald Vick, Kansas: I’m not sure anyone had Vick as the Jayhawks’ leading scorer in the preseason. But he scored 32 and 33 in the last two games, including 8 for 8 on 3s against Vermont.
4. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: The Badger senior was a dominant presence at Xavier with 30 points and 13 boards. If he can play up to his potential then the Badgers will be an NCAA tournament team and a real factor for a top four finish in the Big Ten.
5. Zion Williamson, Duke: Zion will probably have a reserved spot in this space. He scored 21 points in 21 minutes against Eastern Michigan.
The most important win of the week
UConn over Syracuse: The Huskies win over the Orange at Madison Square Garden will do wonders for Dan Hurley. He needed a validation win for the fans and he got it against one of their longest rivals in a hallowed space in New York City. The Huskies have the talent to be a top four finisher in the AAC. But the win over the Orange will have shelf life for the rest of the season.
-Villanova’s freshmen may not be ready to make major contributions yet.
-Syracuse needs to get healthy so this team can reach its potential and not fall too far back after going 0-2 in New York.
-West Virginia needs to cut down on its turnovers: 22 in loss to Western Kentucky, 19 in loss to Buffalo (18 in win over Monmouth, but just 12 in win over Saint Joseph’s Sunday).
Keep an eye on
DePaul: The Blue Demons may finally climb up the standings in the Big East. DePaul beat Penn State in overtime at home behind Max Strus’ 21 (he scored 25 in each of the first two games). DePaul will find out about itself at Notre Dame next Saturday.
Dylan Windler, Belmont: The senior guard scored 34 in 34 minutes in a rivalry win against Middle Tennessee State. He’s averaging 20 points a game and shooting close to 60 percent.