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Sak Top 25: Week 1

Week 1, also known as the week with the biggest overreactions from college basketball fans and analysts everywhere. If your favorite team went 2-0, you are probably talking about how you are going to win a national championship. And even if you lost a single game to a Top 10 opponent in a neutral site matchup, your fans could be calling for your hall of fame coach to be fired and players NIL deals to be revoked (I wish this was just a hypothetical).

The first week is not a time to see a mid team as a title contender because of one performance. It is also not the time to give up on a team because of a poor shooting night. The first week is an opportunity to make slight adjustments to everyone's rankings, as this is just one small sample size of what will soon be a much greater picture. The first week is also an opportunity to confirm which teams we already thought were going to be contenders. And that brings us to the start of the list.

#1 - UCLA (Previously 1)

UCLA by no means played a perfect game on Friday, with early shooting struggles from star guard Johnny Juzang and overall offensive incohesion, yet still managed to beat a top 5 team in Villanova. Juzang and Jamie Jaquez looked every bit like the stars that they were hyped up to be this year. Also, surprise starters in Jules Bernard and Myles Johnson were both extremely productive in complementary roles to those stars. Peyton Watson has far from hit his potential this year. Once he fulfills it, UCLA will ramp up to another level, higher than the one they are already on.

#2 - Gonzaga (2)

Gonzaga had arguably the best (probably second best) player on their team, Chet Holmgren, only score 2 points, yet still beat a top 5 team in Texas by double digits. Drew Timme put himself as an early leader for National Player of the Year by averaging 24.5 points on 64.5% shooting through 2 games. While Gonzaga probably looked like the best team this past week, I still have UCLA a step above them because I feel like UCLA just has more fire power on their team, specifically at the guard position. How Chet Holmgren and Peyton Watson develop into college basketball players can ultimately be the deciding factor between the two.

#3 - Illinois (3)

We have not learned too much about Illinois this past week, as they played 2 games without Kofi Cockburn and 1 without Andre Curbelo and Trent Frazier, arguably their three best players. We also haven't seen them play any serious competition yet. However, the emergence of sophomore forward Coleman Hawkins has been super promising and raised both the floor and ceiling of this team moving forward. But for now, the Illini cannot be moved in either direction.

#4 - Villanova (4)

While Villanova did lose this past week, it was against my #1 team on the road in a game that went into overtime, so I will not punish them in the rankings at all. Collin Gillespie continues to play at an All-American level, while Jermaine Samuels and Justin Moore have shown that they are the secondary stars this team needs to make a deep tournament run.

#5 - Kansas (7)

Our first movement from last week comes from the Jayhawks, hopping up 2 spots following an impressive win over Michigan State without key player Jalen Wilson. Ochai Ogbaji put up back to back 20+ point performances with 29 over Michigan State and 25 against Tarleton. Ogbaji alongside Remy Martin and Christian Braun has looked like maybe the best backcourt in the country through one week.

#6 - Duke (10)

Just in case there was ever any doubt, Paolo Banchero showed that he is the best basketball player in the country. Not just the best NBA prospect, but the most productive player for his team in the entire country. However, the biggest reason for this jump comes from the impressive guard play of Wendell Moore Jr and Trevor Keels against Kentucky. Just being respectable in the backcourt will allow for Banchero, Mark Williams, and soon AJ Griffin to win games with their advantage in the front court.

#7 - Purdue (6)

It was hard to drop Purdue a spot in a week where they don't lose, but the two teams who hopped above them just impressed me more. They are surely still a top 10 team in the country by any metric. Jaden Ivey showed what all the preseason hype was about by averaging 19.0-6.5-3.5 through his first two games on very efficient shooting splits. Zach Edey has emerged as the primary front court option on this team, making Trevion Williams a huge mismatch coming off of the bench.

#8 - Michigan (8)

Michigan did exactly what I had expected them to do through their first couple weeks. Guard play was alright, while Hunter Dickinson dominated and Caleb Houstan showed why he is one of the best freshman in the country. Some tougher matchups in the coming weeks will give them a chance to prove themselves to be higher on this list.

#9 - Memphis (15)

I knew that Jalen Duren and De'Andre Williams were going to be one of the better front courts in the country. My biggest concerns for this team were guard play and how Penny would use Emoni Bates. While these concerns have not fully vanished yet, they have certainly eased up as Emoni Bates has shown that his game can translate to this level, whether it be running the point or playing out on the wing. If Bates, along with Lester Quinones and Landers Nolley continue to impress out of the backcourt, the ceiling for this team is much higher than I had previously thought.

#10 - Texas (5)

I was high on the Texas bandwagon this offseason. Even following a loss, I am still not jumping off of it yet. However, they did not compete very well against Gonzaga, showing me that they are still a step behind being a top tier team. I ultimately do think they will rejoin the top 5 once their team gains cohesion, following an offseason of lots of roster and coaching turnover. But for now, they are only a borderline top 10 team.

#11 - Baylor

#12 - Kentucky (11)

Kentucky lost to a team that I had ranked above them and then absolutely dominated a team that they were supposed to beat, so it is too hard to move them far in either direction. However, in both games, Kentucky has shown they have the players to be a top team in the country. They ran into a tough matchup and shooting struggles against Duke, but this is not a team to give up on because of an early loss. They will have plenty of mid major home games to continue to grow as a team, before taking on some of their more challenging out of conference opponents. Assuming they avoid any losses, Kentucky should stay in the 10 to low teens range until they once again have an opportunity to prove themselves against a top opponent.

#13 - Oregon (12)

#14 - North Carolina (13)

#15 - Alabama (14)

#16 - Arkansas (16)

#17 - Tennessee (17)

#18 - Auburn (18)

#19 - Maryland (21)

#20 - Texas Tech (20)

#21 - Houston (22)

#22 - San Diego State (25)

#23 - Notre Dame (Unranked)

#24 - UConn (Unranked)

#25 - Florida (Unranked)


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