What happens when the No. 1 team and the No. 8 team lose on the same night? Those upsets of Indiana and Florida came on the heels of big losses by No. 2 Miami and No. 4 Michigan State over the weekend. So last week’s rankings were fed into the shredder and we started fresh. No bias against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs should be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament -- at this point -- but not No. 1 overall. That burden falls on Duke again.
1. Duke -- The Blue Devils really haven’t done anything stunning to get back to this spot. We’ve been forced to hit the reset button, so we’re going with the team that built that early impressive resume. With a game at Virginia on Thursday and then the rematch with Miami on Saturday, the Blue Devils can prove they are worthy. And the best news for Duke is that injured Ryan Kelly may be close to returning.
2. Gonzaga -– This really seems to be the best team Mark Few has ever had. The Bulldogs are efficient and fun to watch, but it doesn’t feel comfortable declaring them the best team in the country. Few always puts together a strong non-conference schedule, but playing in the West Coast Conferences hurts Gonzaga’s SOS.
3. Indiana -– The Hoosiers have lost three times to unranked opponents as the No. 1 team this season. Michigan (1964-65) and Arizona (2002-03) had been exclusive members of that club before Minnesota defeated the Hoosiers on Tuesday. Cody Zeller’s play is becoming a concern.
4. Michigan -– The Wolverines are 3-3 in their last six games, but beat Penn State and Illinois at home last week. Thanks to Minnesota defeating Indiana Tuesday night, Michigan is back in the Big Ten race with a 10-4 conference record. Trey Burke is a strong candidate for national player of the year. Note: Michigan lost to Penn State on Wednesday after this article was posted.
5. Kansas –- All the controversy over poor officiating has overshadowed Elijah Johnson’s 39-point performance against Iowa State. It seems Johnson has worked his way out of his shooting slump. The Cyclones learned that the hard way. If Johnson shoots that way the rest of the season, Kansas is headed back to the Final Four.
6. Georgetown –- Welcome Otto Porter to the national POY discussion after his 33-point explosion against Syracuse as the Hoyas said goodbye to the Carrier Dome. In conference games only, Georgetown leads the Big East in field goal percentage as well as field goal percentage defense. That’s a potent combo.
7. Louisville -- Rick Pitino has his team peaking at the right time, as usual. The competition has not been outstanding since Louisville’s five-overtime loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 9. But the Cardinals are winning and preparing for that March 2 rematch at Syracuse. Louisville remains dangerous.
8. Miami -- The Hurricanes are still the best story of the season but the winning streak ended at Wake Forest and now the pressure is on. After a home game against Virginia Tech, Miami can get ready for that March 2 game at Duke. Think the Blue Devils will be ready for that one? Note: Miami beat Virginia Tech on Wednesday after this article was posted.
9. Michigan State -- Things can change quickly in the Big Ten. The Spartans were in good hands after that 75-52 rout of Michigan on Feb. 12. Now Tom Izzo’s team enters another Michigan game on a two-game losing streak. It’s just another huge Big Ten game, for both teams.
10. Kansas State -- The Wildcats are doing their best to end the dominance of Kansas in the Big 12. The Sunflower teams remain tied for first in the conference. The Wildcats have done everything they can -– except beat the Jayhawks.
11. Arizona -– Are the Wildcats back on track? Arizona lost two, then won three. Next up is the ultimate Pac-12 road trip with games this weekend at USC and UCLA. After that, there’s only one regular-season game remaining –- at Arizona State on March 9.
12. Florida -- The Gators are a very efficient team -- as long as they play at home. The road has been a nightmare, however. It happened again Tuesday as Florida lost 64-58 at Tennessee. Suddenly, Alabama is bearing down on the Gators in the SEC standings.
13. New Mexico –- The Lobos provided some clarity to the Mountain West race Saturday, traveling to Fort Collins and defeating Colorado State, 91-82. That was a statement and so was the 46 points scored by guard Kendall Williams. Next up: San Diego State, which held the Lobos to 37 last month.
14. Oklahoma State -- The Cowboys are talented enough to do some damage in the postseason. They also have a great deal of fight and passion, two ingredients that should make them a tough out. They need Marcus Smart to stay out of foul trouble.
15. Marquette -- The Golden Eagles remain one of the most baffling units in college hoops. They went to Villanova and put up a stinker, then returned home to beat Syracuse 74-71 behind Devante Gardner’s big night. Buzz Williams has this team in the Big East hunt.
16. Syracuse -- The Orange are headed in the wrong direction. Syracuse has gone 4-5 in its last nine games and dropped consecutive games to Georgetown and Marquette. With Louisville invading the Carrier Dome next, it would be a good time for Brandon Triche to find his shooting touch again.
17. Wisconsin -- Other than Bo Ryan and his players, it’s doubtful anyone thought the Badgers would have this big of an impact on the Big Ten standings. But Wisconsin is right there within reach of Michigan State and Indiana with three games remaining.
18. Ohio State –- If Aaron Craft decides he wants to have some positive results on offense, watch out for the Buckeyes the rest of the way. The defensive-minded point guard did some slashing and scoring against Michigan State, putting up 21 points in a 68-60 victory.
19. Saint Louis -- The Billikens put that nine-game winning streak on the line Wednesday night with a home game against Saint Joseph’s. After beating VCU and Butler to move into first in the Atlantic 10, Saint Louis cannot take the foot off the accelerator. Note: Saint Louis beat St. Joseph's on Wednesday night after this article was posted.
20. Notre Dame -- You know coach Mike Brey would love another chance at visiting Providence. If not for that dud against the Friars, the Fighting Irish would be headed to Marquette on Saturday on a five-game winning streak -- and closer to first in the Big East.
21. Minnesota -- The Gophers fell off the map with four losses in five games, but that certainly changed Tuesday night with that impressive 77-73 upset of visiting Indiana. Trevor Mbakwe had 21 points and 12 rebounds and the Gophers dominated the boards against the Hoosiers.
22. Oregon -- The Ducks ran into the red-hot Cal Bears last week and lost 48-46. But Oregon bounced back to beat Stanford to remain tied for first in the Pac-12 with Arizona. The Ducks play Oregon State this week, then close with road games at Colorado and Utah.
23. Connecticut –- The Huskies are the nation’s forgotten team because of their postseason ban. But first-year coach Kevin Ollie has put UConn in position for a 20-win season. A win over visiting Georgetown Wednesday would be a powerful statement for this program. Note: Georgetown edged Connecticut in double overtime Wednesday night after this article was posted.
24. Alabama -- There’s a rising Tide in the SEC and now Alabama sits in second place in the standings. The Crimson Tide wasted Trevor Releford’s 36-point game in a triple overtime loss to LSU. But Alabama could pull into a tie for first with a win at Florida on Saturday.
25. Wichita State -- The Shockers have won five straight with two games remaining in the Missouri Valley Conference. Wichita State has taken care of business at home and won close games on the road. Creighton is slumping, but that March 2 road game looms large for Wichita State.