Prior to the holidays No. 1 Purdue nearly got beat at Nebraska in overtime.
And just this past Saturday, there were a number of significant results as league play began, or restarted, with Iowa State beating Baylor in Ames.
Marquette winning at Villanova, New Mexico staying unbeaten by winning at Wyoming by one, Kansas State beating West Virginia in Manhattan, Oklahoma State having a double-figure lead at Kansas but failing to hold on and in the WCC, Saint Mary’s beating Santa Clara and San Diego shocking San Francisco.
Nothing is easy and certainly not predictable. The most significant result came in Cincinnati where Xavier handed UConn its first loss of the season after the Musketeers won at St. John’s to earn our Men’s March Madness Team of the Week honors. The Musketeers are off to a 4-0 Big East start.
And just when it looked like North Carolina was ready to roll again, Pitt took down the Tar Heels 76-74 behind our Men’s March Madness Player of the Week Jamarius Burton’s 31 points. Burton scored nine in an earlier win at Syracuse, but he has had other big ACC moments as well, with 24 points in a win over NC State. The Panthers are now 3-0 in the ACC.
1. Purdue (1): The Boilermakers reset the Big Ten by hosting Rutgers. They aren’t shooting well, but they are finding ways to win.
2. Arizona (3): The Wildcats held off Arizona State for the road W. But they continue to have multiple speeds that teams can’t keep up with over 40 minutes.
3. Kansas (4): The Jayhawks got Oklahoma State’s best shot but again the experience in key positions showed well for KU in their Big 12 opener at home.
4. UCLA (5): The Bruins got the tough state of Washington sweep to keep pace with Arizona.
5. Houston (6): The Cougars are already rolling to 2-0 in the American.
6. UConn (2): The Huskies drop their first game of the season with a road loss at Xavier. No shame. Xavier may not lose a Big East home game.
7. Gonzaga (8): The Zags rolled Pepperdine in the WCC opener, showing yet again how tough they will be to contain in the league.
8. Texas (9): The Longhorns escaped with a one-point win over Oklahoma for their sixth in a row.
9. Tennessee (11): The Vols started the SEC with a road win at Ole Miss, never easy to get any of those in the SEC.
10. Alabama (12): The Tide continue to win away from home with a road W at Mississippi State to open up the SEC.
11. Miami, Fla. (13): The Hurricanes got a road W — again — and continue to surge.
12. Ohio State (15): The Buckeyes showed they are ready for a Big Ten title chase after handling Northwestern Sunday night.
13. TCU (16): The Horned Frogs aren’t just being undervalued on the football field. These Frogs can ball and beat Texas Tech in the Big 10 opener.
14. Wisconsin (17): Badgers should move to 3-0 in the Big Ten against Minnesota but will find out more about themselves at Illinois.
15. Virginia (18): The Cavaliers got healthy with a win over Georgia Tech. Big test coming up at Pitt.
16. Duke (19): The Blue Devils took care of Florida State to reset the narrative. A road game at NC State should be telling.
17. New Mexico (20): The Lobos got a hard win at Wyoming. For those players, coaches, media and fans that know the region, they understand how hard it is to win in Laramie.
18. Xavier (22): The Musketeers are off to 4-0 in the Big East after handing UConn its first loss of the season.
19. Missouri (23): The Tigers continued to play well with a home win over Kentucky.
20. Michigan State (25): Malik Hall is back and so are the Spartans.
21. LSU (28): Time to take the Tigers seriously after knocking off Arkansas.
22. Iowa State (31): The Cyclones are back to playing their brand of ball, beating Baylor at home to open the Big 12.
23. Kansas State (27): The Wildcats opened the Big 12 with an overtime W over West Virginia.
24. Providence (35): The Friars are 4-0 in the Big East with three road wins.
25. Penn State (34): The Nittany Lions are 2-1 in the Big Ten with wins over Iowa at home and at Illinois.
26. Baylor (10): The Bears lost at Iowa State, a place where most Big 12 teams will fall.
27. Pitt (NR): Jeff Capel has the Panthers 3-0 in the ACC after a win over North Carolina.
2023 SELECTION SUNDAY: Date, schedule, TV times
28. Marquette (NR): The Golden Eagles are back in the Power 36 after a road win at Villanova.
29. Arkansas (7): The Hogs lost to LSU and are injury-riddled with Missouri coming into Fayetteville.
30. Indiana (29): The Hoosiers have been idle since Dec. 23. Next game is at reeling Iowa on Jan. 5.
31. North Carolina (14): The Tar Heels lost late at Pitt. The talent is there, but the ability to close has been inconsistent.
32. Rutgers (32): The Scarlet Knights head into a showdown with Purdue, winning three in a row.
33. Utah (NR): The Utes are showing the win over Arizona was no fluke as the Utes are 4-0 in the Pac-12.
34. Saint Mary’s (NR): The Gaels have won three in a row and won at Santa Clara to send a message that they are still a top-two WCC team.
35. San Diego State (NR): The Aztecs are back in after winning at UNLV, their fourth in a row.
36. College of Charleston (36): The Cougars are 2-0 in the CAA and 14-1 overall.
Dropped out: USC (21), Mississippi State (24), Memphis (26), Kentucky (30), West Virginia (33).