Weekly Top 25 CBB Rankings: Week 7

Every week of the college basketball season, USCFootball.com writer Marshall Cherrington comes out with updated rankings of his top 25 teams in the nation. In addition to the rankings, he writes about the week that was in the land of USC basketball.

USC

The Trojans were idle this week as conference play approaches and only one out of conference game remains, a matchup against Vermont. The Catamounts travel across the country for a game against USC on Tuesday night and should provide a small test for this Trojans team. Vermont lost to Harvard in overtime this year and although the Crimson are having a down year, they’re a talented team and have some high major talent scattered across the roster. USC has had some struggles with mid-major teams this year (see Portland State, Akron and Army) and this will be the last test before conference play begins.

The Trojans travel east for their first conference games against Utah and Colorado. It’ll probably be a winless road trip for the young team, but you never know. Crazier things have happened in college basketball. Utah will be a very tough matchup as Jakob Poeltl is a big man inside who could give the Trojans some problems. Nikola Jovanovic hasn’t proven he can contain a guy like that and Darion Clark is a little short to guard the Utah big man. The Katin Reinhardt-Delon Wright matchup should be fun to watch as Reinhardt has proven to be USC’s best defender this year. Wright loves to get to the hoop and Reinhardt is physical enough to where he can prevent this from happening at times. He has above average lateral foot speed which is important to posses when guarding a player like Wright.

Colorado is a game I could see the Trojans winning. The Buffaloes had a tough going in the non-conference part of their schedule, but they are still a tough and well coached team. Josh Scott is one of the best big men in the Pac-12 and Askia Booker will be tough to guard on the perimeter. Players like Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon will provide some challenges as well.

It should be a fun first few games in the Pac-12 and we’re all about to find out if this USC team can compete with two teams that boast some of the top end talent in the Pac-12.

Top 25 Rankings

1. Kentucky (LW: 1)

Louisville was supposed to give Kentucky a game. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. No team in the SEC is going to touch Kentucky and the Wildcats will be the undoubted number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tyler Ulis played a heck of a game against the Cardinals and it’s time he receives the majority of minutes at the point guard position. He’s tough as nails and a terrific shooter. Add in his ability to lock down opposing point guards and you have the best freshman point guard in the nation. Yes, he’s better than Tyus Jones. With the big men inside, the guards are allowed to gamble for steals and with guards like Kentucky has, that’s a scary proposition. The Wildcats are rolling into SEC play and won’t be slowed down.

2. Duke (LW: 2)

3. Virginia (LW: 6)

4. Wisconsin (LW: 4)

5. Gonzaga (LW: 8)

6. Villanova (LW: 9)

7. Louisville (LW: 7)

While watching the game Saturday, it seemed like Montrezl Harrell was really struggling. He wasn’t finishing a ton inside and wasn’t that active on the defensive side of the ball. But then the stat sheet appeared on my computer screen. Harrell played the entire game and against Kentucky, that’s asking a lot of the junior. The Wildcat big men are talented and rested, so asking Harrell to deal with that for 40 minutes is pretty much crazy. This game really highlighted Louisville’s lack of depth as the Cardinals had four starters that played 35 minutes or more. They shot a horrid 25.9 percent from the floor and you’ll never win a game shooting like that. Kentucky does that to you though and that’s why the Wildcats won’t lose a game for the rest of the regular season.

8. Arizona (LW: 3)

UNLV has some very talented players. It’s not like the Wildcats lost to a horrible team and should be completely slaughtered in the rankings. The Running Rebels have two potential first round picks in Christian Wood and Rashad Vaughn and the duo combined for 63 percent of UNLV’s points against Arizona. Ronda Hollis-Jefferson only played 18 minutes for Arizona and that’s a little concerning. He’s the ideal player to guard Christian Wood and fouling out with over seven minutes remaining in the game is not going to help this team one bit. He’s one of the veteran players on this team and needs to understand how important he is to the Wildcats’ success. One other thing this game really highlighted is how the Wildcats deal with athleticism and length. UNLV possesses those two traits and showed one of Arizona’s weak spots. Conference play is approaching though and Arizona remains the team to beat in the Pac-12.

9. Utah (LW: 12)

10. Maryland (LW: 15)

Dez Wells has started practicing and working out again and once he comes back, this team will be very dangerous. Wells, Melo Trimble, Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz will be a lethal quartet and will make some noise in the Big Ten. It’ll be tough to contend with Wisconsin since the Terps’ biggest contributor is 6-foot-9, but look for them to slot in right behind the Badgers. Come tournament time, this team will be dangerous and armed on the offensive end. If the Terps would have had Smotrycz and Wells available against Virginia earlier in the season, it would have been one of the best games of the year. However, the duo wasn’t available and the Terps lost by 11, surprisingly not that large of a margin.

11. Kansas (LW: 5)

The Jayhawks have faced the toughest schedule in the nation and while a loss against Temple isn’t acceptable, it’s not going to kill them. Perry Ellis can’t play that bad again though. 1 for 10 from the floor?! C’mon man! You’re the best played on the team! That’s basketball though…

12. Iowa State (LW: 16)

13. Notre Dame (LW: 14)

14. Texas (LW: 10)

Losing to Stanford at home is not a bad loss at all. The Cardinal boast some very talented players and the Longhorns found out the hard way that Chasson Randle is not the only scorer in the starting lineup. How about the 25 point outburst from Anthony Brown? In two games prior to the Cardinal’s matchup with Texas, Brown scored a lowly 7 and 6 points. Not a lot of people saw this coming, especially against a team with an elite level defender like Jonathan Holmes. All is okay for the Longhorns though and once Isaiah Taylor returns, they’ll undoubtedly be a top ten team. Myles Turner is getting better everyday and Rick Barnes has done a nice job with this group so far. The Kansas-Texas matchup should be marked on everybody’s calendars come conference play.

15. St. Johns (LW: 17)

16. North Carolina (LW: 18)

17. Wichita State (LW: 13)

18. Washington (LW: 11)

Oh, you Huskies. Getting everybody’s hopes up only to see them come crashing down with a brutal loss to Stony Brook. Romar talked about how big of an accomplishment it would have been to go undefeated in non-conference play and the Huskies came so close to doing just that. Basketball is a crazy game though and any given night, a team can shoot terribly. It doesn’t help when the opposing team hits six more threes than you and shoots better, percentage wise, throughout the night. One thing that might help the Huskies’ shooting percentage is Andrew Andrews’ minutes taking a hit. He makes some of the silliest decisions out on the basketball court and in late game situations that don’t involve the free throw line, he just can’t be trusted. Every year fans have expected growth in the offseason from him and it just hasn’t showed up. It would have been nice to see Darin Johnson and Quevyn Winters receive more playing time in non-conference play, but I guess Romar just wasn’t having any of it. Robert Upshaw had a rough Sunday night on the offensive end and we should probably expect this every once in awhile. He’s still growing as a player and the defensive end is the side of the ball he’s really going to make an impact on. Nobody expected this team to go 11-1 in non-conference play, so Husky fans should be feeling pretty good heading into the part of the season that really counts.

19. Ohio State (LW: 19)

20. Georgetown (LW: 20)

Indiana isn’t a ranked team, but that doesn’t mean the Hoosiers don’t boast top end talent. Georgetown came out of Madison Square Garden with a very nice win Saturday night and survived the magic of Yogi Ferrell. D’Vauntes Rivera-Smith is turning into one of the best guards in the country and that showed that again against Indiana. He recorded 29 points and 4 steals while having to guard Yogi Ferrell. The Hoyas should run through most of the Big East, but their matchup against St. Johns will be a tough, physical battle. Can’t wait for that one.

21. Oklahoma (LW: 22)

22. Baylor (LW: 21)

23. West Virginia (LW: 24)

24. Arkansas (LW: 23)

25. Colorado State (LW: 25)



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