By Hocine LOUKKAF on  1/12/2023

Purdue’s loss against Rutgers allows Houston to come back at the #1 spot in a very tight ranking as Big 12 teams are making almost half of the ranking.

#1 Houston (16-1)

Since their loss to a solid Alabama team, the Cougars have beaten four opponents by 25+pts and had an impressive win at then #2 Virginia as Freshman sensation Jarace Walker recorded 17pts 7rbds and 4 as. He has started 2023 pretty well with a combined 44pts and 4/8 3pt in the last two games he pkayed while junior forward J’Wan Roberts had scored in double digit in four games before last night’s game against South Florida. Houston may go undefeated in the AAC as none of their conference counterparts is ranked.

#2 Purdue (15-1)

While they were the solid #1 as the only unbeaten team in the big conferences, the Boilermakers dropped to #2 after their one-point loss against Rutgers as they took ten shots less than their opponent while shooting a poor 39% FG and 30% 3pt. They bounced back pretty well winning another thriller at Ohio State with a big three-pointer from Loyer to close the game and against Penn State shooting 40+% 3pt in both games. Wisconsin is the only current ranked team they will face in their conference.

#3 Kansas (14-1)

Kansas has not lost since their game against Tennessee but the Jayhawks won by four or less in three of their first four conference games. Sophomore KJ Adams has stepped up his game averaging 16pts since conference play but he will be tested as last year’s champions will play three ranked opponents in a row including intrastate rival Kansas State.

#4 Alabama (13-2)

Miller’s 36pts weren’t enough against Gonzaga as Alabama suffered its second loss with Sears having his worst game of the year (5pts 1/8 FG). That apparently woke him up as he’s had at least 15pts in each of the last five games including 26pts against Arkansas last night. If he, Brandon Miller and Clowney can stay healthy and produce, the Crimson Tide will be one helluva opponent to face in the NCAA Tournament. Away games at Arkansas and Missouri could cement Alabama’s spot in the top five.

#5 Kansas State (14-1)

Another dangerous outsider, Kansas has more than redeemed itself after the loss against Butler as they have just beaten three ranked opponents behind the talent of PG Markquis Nowell (28pts 10as and 16/35 3pt combined over the last four games) and feel-good story of the year Keyontae Johnson (18.4pts 7rbds and only two games under 40% FG). The Wildcats will have their biggest test next week with a matchup against intrastate rival Kansas.

#6 Tennessee (13-2)

The Volunteers may have the weakness of their strength. They have nine players with at least 14min per game but at the same time, they had six different top scorers in 16 games and may lack one real leader. Vescovi may be the best example of this inconsistency as he combined 4/23 FG in the two games against Maryland and Arizona but has scored at least 12pts on 50+% FG in the next five games. Matchups against Texas and Alabama could help us have a better idea of what the Volunteers could produce before the Tournament.

#7 Texas (13-2)

With only two losses to then-ranled Illinois and rising Kansas State, Texas have been pretty solid as they proved it last night against TCU coming back from an 18pt deficit to finally win by four. Timmy Allen, albeit still fragile in term of efficiency, has been consistent scoring the ball recently with double-figures in seven of the last eight games. The road to a Big 12 will be tough with matchups against Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas (and Tennessee) during the month to come.

#8 UCLA (14-2)

The Bruins have been on a roll since their two losses against then-ranked Illinois and Baylor as they have won eleven in a row. Bona is starting ro find his groove with at least 7pts and 2bl in each of his last four games while UCLA has also been better shooting the ball with nine three-pointers made in each of the last two games. The game against Arizona on Jan 21 will be heir next biggest matchup.

#9 Arizona (14-2)

Losing twice against unranked opponents is not what you expect for such a loaded roster. In both games, guard play was poor with a combined 1/14 FG against Utah and 5/19 against Washington State for Larsson and Kriisa. Big men are not perfect either as the Wildcats were outrebounded 51 to 42 against Utah while Cougar Mouhamed Gueye dominated with 29pts and 14rbds. Like said previously, Arizona will have its biggest test to come agains UCLA.

#10 Iowa State Cyclones (13-2)

Another Big 12 team to close this ranking with the surprising Cyclones which are 4-0 in their conference with wins over then-ranked Baylor and TCU. Iowa State allow only three opponents to score 70pts including the same two that beat them. On offense, Kalscheur scored in double-digit in seven of his last eight games, including two 20pt games while Grill has recorded at least 14pts, three three-pointers on 50% 3pt in four of his last four games, good for a combined 18/36 3pt over the last five games (sic). The Cyclones will face probably their toughest opponents, Kansas and Texas, in the next two games.

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