NCAA Basketball Power Rankings: Top 16 Rundown

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We’re now deep into January, which, over the course of an NCAA basketball season, is seen as a time when college basketball teams begin to make their runs to solidify their prospects for the big dance.

With that, here’s a look at our NCAA basketball power rankings for games played through Jan. 23. We have ranked the top 16 teams, representing the one through four seeds for each region of this March’s NCAA tournament.

#1 SEEDS

1) Arizona Wildcats, 19-0. Five games into the Pac-12 schedule, the Wildcats are making mince meat of their competition. Outside of a four-point win at UCLA, Arizona is blasting teams by nearly 19 points per game. Thus far in the season, Arizona is averaging 75.9 points and 39.6 rebounds per game. On the defensive side of the ball, they are holding teams to 56.7 points per game, good for 4th in the NCAA, and limiting opponent’s shooting to just 41 percent.

2) Syracuse Orangemen, 18-0. Like Arizona, the Orangemen have started their conference on cruise control. Big wins over North Carolina at home and Virginia Tech on the road may be overshadowed by a five-point win at home against rival Pittsburgh. An upcoming road swing at Miami (Fla.) and Wake Forest followed by a home bout with Duke could be a good test for Syracuse.

3) Wichita State Shockers, 20-0. People criticized the Shockers for their non-conference schedule. In actuality, it should be over the very weak Missouri Valley Conference. WSU has only been challenged by Missouri State on the road but the experienced Shockers are prone to make big second-half surges.

4) Michigan State Spartans, 18-1. After an early loss to North Carolina, the Spartans have rattled off 11 straight, including big wins over Illinois (78-62) and Indiana (71-66). This weekend, however, Sparty gets in-state rival Michigan in Lansing followed by a nationally-ranked matchup at Iowa.

#2 SEEDS

5) San Diego State Aztecs, 17-1. SDSU has one lone blemish in a nine-point loss at home to Arizona. Since the, wins over Creighton and Kansas have bolstered the Aztecs. Considering how the Mountain West Conference is a virtual cakewalk compared to other conferences, it is likely SDSU could be unbeaten by the conference tournament.

6) Florida Gators, 16-2. The Gators ended one of the longest home-court winning streaks in the nation with a 68-62 win at Alabama this week. There is little to be said about the competitiveness of the SEC this season, but the Gators show good form averaging 73 points while holding opponents to just 59 points per game.

7) Villanova Wildcats, 16-2. The Wildcats didn’t do themselves any favors by being blown out by Creighton at home, especially considering early wins over Kansas and Iowa. The schedule doesn’t get much easier from here as Villanova goes to Marquette, Georgetown and Temple before returning home Feb. 2 to take on Xavier.

8) Kansas Jayhawks, 14-4. Things looked bleak for the Jayhawks after their fourth loss of the season at the hands of SDSU. Enter the Big 12. The lone significant test for Kansas will be a road match-up with Texas on Feb. 1. Outside of that, there may be little competition for Kansas until they square up with Iowa State and Kansas State later in the season.

#3 SEEDS

9) Creighton Bluejays, 16-3. A big ‘thank you’ card should be sent to Creighton from Wichita State. With the Bluejays’ exodus from the Missouri Valley, the Shockers can run the table. That being said, Creighton is doing just fine in the Big East. A 96-68 blowout of Villanova on the road is proof of that.

10) Pittsburgh Panthers, 17-2. The Panthers leading the ACC? Say it isn’t so. The Panthers’ only losses were by a combined five points while their wins are by double-digit margins, even in conference play. Duke comes to town on Jan. 27 and that, along with a rematch with Syracuse — also at home in mid-February — will show the meddle of the Panthers.

11) Michigan Wolverines, 14-4. The Wolverines are on an eight-game winning streak after losing to top-ranked Arizona in December. But their games of late have been closer than what might be comfortable for a Michigan fan with the Wolverines outscoring their opponents by an average 14 points. Michigan State on the road will be big for the Wolverines.

12) Cincinnati Bearcats, 17-2). The Bearcats have been the benefactors of a weak schedule. Not to mention a weak American Conference. That being said, Cincinnati has beaten its six conference foes by a double-digit margin to kick off the conference season.

#4 SEEDS

13) Iowa Hawkeyes, 15-4. After being beaten by four at Wisconsin the Hawkeyes promptly took out their frustrations with a 26-point thrashing over an impressive Northwestern squad. Iowa gets another look at the Wildcats this weekend followed by a home tussle with Michigan State.

14) Oklahoma State Cowboys, 15-3. At times, the Cowboys look unbeatable — such as a 32-point beating of Texas Christian, and then, there are times when they are inconsistent — like an 80-78 loss at Kansas and a 74-71 loss at Kansas State. Needless to say, OSU is great at home, but up and down on the road.

15) Duke Blue Devils, 15-4. Just when people were writing off basketball in North Carolina this year, the Blue Devils have rattled off three straight wins. But, it is difficult to overlook at 13-point road loss at Clemson just a few weeks ago. The jury is still out on the potential of Duke this season.

16) Wisconsin Badgers, 16-3. Wisconsin started the season with a bang but have laid eggs in their last three games. Losses at Indiana and Minnesota coupled with a home loss to Michigan have Wisconsin on the ropes. Purdue and Northwestern loom for the Badgers in the coming week.

Picture by Casey Sapio, USA TODAY Sports

Matt Clark

Matt Clark

I have been a journalist for the last 20 years. Don't start guessing my age because I started very early in life. I have covered sports and politics over the course of that time. Currently, I am the editor of a mid-sized paper in North Carolina, which is a far cry from my hometown in Kansas (please keep the "you aren't in Kansas anymore" references to a bare minimum).
Matt Clark
Matt Clark
Matt Clark
Matt Clark

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