Weekly Top 25 CBB Rankings: Week 9

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.


Perimeter defense is one of the most underrated aspects in the game of college basketball. If a team can light you up from outside, you’re chances of winning take a skydive. It’s not like USC’s perimeter defense has been bad all year either. Trojan opponents are hitting 31.2 percent of their shots from outside this year, which shows that overall, the perimeter defense has been pretty good. But as of late? It hasn’t been good at all. In Pac-12 games, USC opponents are hitting 40.5 percent of their shots from outside. If you exclude the Cal game, USC opponents are shooting 47.5 percent from deep. These numbers won’t keep you in a ton of games and they aren’t changing either as Stanford lit it up from three point range in the first half on Sunday, making 9 of its 13 attempts. The Cardinal cooled off in the second half, but it gave the Trojans a deficit they needed to overcome heading into halftime.

A player that has needed to see the floor more is sophomore guard Julian Jacobs. He’s finally getting the playing time he deserves and played 35 minutes on Wednesday against Cal and 33 minutes on Sunday against Stanford. Jacobs was exceptional this week as he scored 33 points, dished out 7 assists and recorded 4 steals. One other aspect that made this a very good week for Jacobs was his vocal leadership on the court. This team has been lacking a vocal leader and Jacobs is stepping up into that role. He constantly is encouraging players coming out of timeouts and if one of his teammates takes a bad shot or makes a mistake, he’s right there to encourage that teammate. Jacobs is the best guard on this team and with Jordan McLaughlin still on the road back to 100 percent, there’s no doubt Jacobs should receive all or a majority of the minutes at point guard. So far, the move is paying off for Andy Enfield and his staff. Don’t expect the output from Jacobs to slow anytime soon.

The win against Cal was big for this USC team. It gave this young team confidence and the comeback against Stanford showed that this team has the talent to compete with some of the top teams in the Pac-12. Jordan McLaughlin said exactly that after the Stanford game on Sunday and there’s nobody who should disagree with that. If Stanford didn’t switch into a zone during the last possession of the game, McLaughlin would have gotten to the hoop for a game winner. The freshman would have been a hero, but he has time for that later in his career.

Progress is the theme of this season and USC took another step in the right direction with its performances this week. Nikola Jovanovic is on a roll and as stated above, Julian Jacobs is taking over that vacant leadership role. The Trojans only play one game this week, that game being against arch rivals UCLA. It’s a home game and a contest that frankly, the Trojans have a very good shot at winning. Kevin Looney will be tough to stop inside, but Malik Martin and Darion Clark should matchup pretty well with him. With a win, USC will only gain more confidence and when a talented team has confidence, watch out.

Top 25 Rankings

1. Kentucky (LW: 1)

Kentucky showed this week that its not a truly dominant team. Now before you get fussy and start screaming at me for saying that, realize that Ole Miss, a team that lost to Charleston Southern earlier this year, and Texas A&M, a team with four losses heading into its matchup with Kentucky, both took the Wildcats into overtime. To be realistic, Kentucky should have lost twice this week and ‘truly dominant’ don’t nearly lose games like these. Yes, Kentucky has been dominant this year, but like Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports said, lets stop mentioning the Wildcats as one of the best college basketball teams ever. However, they may be one of the most talented teams ever and that’s what will help them get through March.

2. Virginia (LW: 3)

3. Gonzaga (LW: 5)

4. Utah (LW: 8)

The Utes make their debut in the top five and although it was because of losses by other teams, Utah has the personnel to knock off a team like Duke. Arizona looks weak right now and Utah could capitalize on that in the teams’ matchup this week. That should be a fun one.

5. Duke (LW: 2)

6. Villanova (LW: 9)

7. Wisconsin (LW: 4)

8. Maryland (LW: 10)

9. Louisville (LW: 6)

10. Kansas (LW: 11)

11. Notre Dame (LW: 12)

12. Arizona (LW: 7)

13. North Carolina (LW: 15)

Marcus Paige stepped up in a big time situation against Louisville and that’s what he’s needed to do all season. The Tar Heels are starting to roll and are talented enough to be a top ten team.

14. Wichita State (LW: 16)

15. Iowa State (LW: 17)

16. West Virginia (LW: 18)

Big test this upcoming week for the Mountaineers as they face off against Oklahoma and Texas. Although both teams lost this past week, they still present challenges and Bob Huggins better be ready for teams thirsty for wins.

17. VCU (LW: 21)

18. Oklahoma (LW: 14)

19. Baylor (LW: 20)

20. Arkansas (LW: 22)

21. Texas (LW: 13)

A rough two loss week drops the Longhorns eight spots in the rankings. They lost by a combined 22 points to the Oklahoma schools and Isaiah Taylor had a rough week. Still looks like he’s getting back to 100 percent.

22. Seton Hall (LW: 19)

23. Oklahoma State (LW: NR)

24. Northern Iowa (LW: NR)

25. Dayton (LW: NR)

The Flyers make their debut in the top 25 as they only have two losses on the year, one to UConn, a team that was ranked at the time, and one to Arkansas, now the 20th ranked team in the nation. Jordan Sibert and Dyshawn Pierre are playing terrific this year and the Flyers should be back in the NCAA Tournament. If they figure out their big man situation, watch out.

Dropped: Ohio State, Iowa, Colorado State

Added: Oklahoma State, Dayton, Northern Iowa

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