Welcome to The Slipper Still Fits slippery college hoops power rankings! Every Thursday, I will be bringing you college basketball’s pecking order as determined by a committee of two (me and my puppy Charlie). If you’re concerned about Charlie’s credentials, cast those worries aside as my pup is the living embodiment of the #ballislife movement. Also, he's watched me play basketball enough times to know what bad basketball looks like.
As an aside, I settled on an 11-team ranking because the cut-off of all rankings is somewhat arbitrary; and, most importantly, I didn’t want to write a review for more than eleven teams.
There has been a lot of discussion about how wide-open this season could be as there was no consensus powerhouse team. It didn't take long for hypothetical sports conversations to turn into reality as those wahoos over in Virginia ignominiously fell to George Washington (the school, not the President)--despite the worst efforts of GW's interior defense.
Seriously, GW was avoiding the paint like it was the Gulag. I don't know how they won. For those of you still bitter about Wichita State knocking out the Zags, they also went down this week. I encourage you to use the comments as your place to rejoice. Now let's get on to the rankings!
Honorable Mentions: Arizona, Butler (by virtue of scoring 144 points in a game), Indiana
No. 11 – Oklahoma
The Sooners are probably feeling pretty smart for only scheduling one game this week after seeing four of the AP Top 10 lose in the first five days of the season. Even with a lone game to worry about, the boys north of the Red River almost coughed up their season opener at Memphis. Fortunately for them, Buddy Hield is on their team. Buddy Hield is really, really good at basketball.
No. 10 – Gonzaga
Rough start to the season as the Zags traveled halfway across the world to play in a sweatbox for 20 minutes before being sent home. Luckily, no one got hurt on the slippery floor and the guys looked like they truly enjoyed their experience with the Marines in Japan. After a lackadaisical first 15 minutes in the home opener, the Zags everyone expected to see this season finally made an appearance. Also, Domantas. 'Nuff said.
No. 9 - Cal
This team is loaded with talent and I expect them to win the perpetually disappointing Pac-12. Tyrone Wallace and Jaylen Brown were both named on the Wooden watch list. All five starters scored in double figures in each of Cal's first two games as the offense featured excellent ball movement with the capability to jump on opponents early and build a fast lead.
No. 8 – Iowa State
The Cyclones lost head coach Fred Holberg to the NBA, bet they'll always have the sweet motion offense he left behind. Oh, and preseason All-American Georges Niang is still around, so that helps. New head coach Steve Prohm promised improved defense and rebounding, but the D still looked suspect in the opener against Colorado when they gave up a lot of open threes to the Buffs. Prohm's ability to quickly get his players to buy-in to a regime change will determine whether they can keep their lofty ranking.
No. 7 – Villanova
I'm not gonna lie, I didn't watch a single second of Villanova basketball this week. But, they won comfortably in each game and there's a lot of talent on this team. Most importantly, they didn't lose. That's good enough for this spot in the rankings.
No. 6 – Kansas
How old is Perry Ellis? No seriously, I want to see his birth certificate. Dude was probably running the pick & roll with James Naismith back during the dawn of basketball. Everytime I’ve watched Kansas play over the last 27 years, I've been transfixed by his receding hairline. I can’t wait to be in a retirement home in 50 years, watching Kansas play, and there’s Perry Ellis running up and down the court for KU. Also, the Jayhawks blew an 11-point second half lead, which gives me great joy.
No. 5 – Duke
I totally forgot there was still a Plumlee at Duke until I turned on their game against Kentucky on Tuesday. A friend of mine told me there’s been a Plumlee at Duke every year for the last 8 years. That can’t be right. It feels like there’s been a Plumlee there since Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox.
No. 4 – Maryland
On paper, the Twerps are as good as any team in the country. But, I just get the feeling that Mark Turgeon is going to find a way to screw this up. He continues to run a horribly unimaginative offense despite having Melo Trimble and his playmaking ability back at the point. Maryland dodged a bullet in their first game against local rival Georgetown since 2008, but Turgeon needs to loosen the reins and let his talented team have some offensive freedom if he wants to maximize the talent at his disposal. It's not all doom and gloom though as the Twerps had a pretty awesome reenactment of an old UMD hoops photo shoot.
No. 3 - Michigan State
Tom Izzo can flat-out coach. It never seems like the Spartans have the talent to be an elite team, and yet, more often than not they find a way to win the big games. Denzel Valentine took the momentum generated by his excellent tournament run from March into this season, culminating with an impressive triple-double (29 points, 12 reb, 12 ast) against Kansas. These guys will invariably drop some random games throughout the season--they always do--but for now they've earned this spot.
No. 2 – UNC
The Tar Heels did not have a tough test to deal with early like many other teams in the Top 10. But, their obstacle arises in the absence of point guard Marcus Paige for the first few weeks of the season (surprise, surprise). In his absence, sophomore guard Joel Berry II (can't wait for guys to start using the roman numeral I in their name) has stepped in and the team hasn't missed a beat.
No. 1 – Kentucky
While watching Kentucky this week, I couldn't help but marvel at how easily they transitioned everything that was not a made basket on defense into a fast break. It's always interesting to see what kind of team Calipari puts together each year since it always seems like his entire roster changes each season. This current iteration has extreme length and quickness and they'll make you pay for a careless possession. Speaking of quickness...Tyler Ulis. Wow. The little jitterbug from Chicago Heights was extremely impressive against Duke. He played all 40 minutes without a turnover, and it was clear from the jump that he was the head honcho on this Kentucky squad.