BracketBot Power Rankings: December 31, 2018

Hey all, here’s this week’s top 25!

1. Duke (11-1; +1)
2. Kansas (11-1; -1)
3. Oklahoma (11-1; +9)
4. Michigan (13-0, 2-0 Big Ten; +1)
5. Nevada (13-0; -2)
6. Virginia (11-0; +1)
7. Tennessee (10-1; -3)
8. Gonzaga (12-2; -2)
9. Michigan State (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten; -1)
10. Ohio State (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten; +7)
11. Florida State (11-1; +3)
12. TCU (11-1; +8)
13. Houston (13-0; +9)
14. Auburn (10-2; -5)
15. Mississippi State (12-1; +6)
16. Virginia Tech (11-1; -5)
17. Nebraska (10-2, 1-1 Big Ten; +1)
18. Texas Tech (11-1; -5)
19. Buffalo (11-1; -3)
20. Indiana (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten; -1)
21. Marquette (11-2; +2)
22. Wisconsin (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten; -7)
23. Cincinnati (11-2; +2)
24. North Carolina (9-3; -14)
25. Kentucky (10-2; +11)
26-30. Iowa State, Kansas State, UCF, LSU, Seton Hall
(all records are vs. Division 1 opposition only)

Lot of movement this week, with there being two weeks’ worth of games since my previous update, but surprisingly there’s only one team new in the top 25 itself – that’s Kentucky down at #25. Since we last spoke, UK has played two games, both away from home against good teams, and won both – North Carolina (played in Chicago) and their rivalry game against Louisville. That’s enough to overlook a few things that are keeping them down in my book – namely, a bunch of really, really bad teams that they played in between their moments of glory. Most seem to have them ranked in the 11-14 range, but I’m not sold yet and my computer isn’t either.

Texas is the team that correspondingly falls out. Two weeks ago they were the only 3-loss team that I had ranked, and now they’re a 4-loss team having lost to Providence on the 21st. They’re not really one of the contenders in a fairly open Big 12, but they could make some noise and I’d expect them to probably be a tournament team.

The team that I want to talk about is one that’s probably a big surprise if you compare the “”real”” polls to mine, and that’s Oklahoma. The Sooners are 11-1 against a high-quality schedule, with 6 wins against teams that rank in my top 100, and they rank #2 in the RPI at this halfway point of the season. It’s time to take Oklahoma seriously as a potential top-ten team. My system pegs them as a team that might be a slight overachiever, but I’m happy to be ahead of the trend-line on this one – I think OU winds up with a top-4 seed in March.

Notable unranked teams include #33 Arizona State, #36 Villanova, #37 Louisville, #44 Purdue, #48 Arizona, #50 Washington, #58 Arkansas, #61 Missouri, #78 Saint Louis, #87 UCLA, #116 Wichita State, #141 USC, #143 Stanford (boy, the Pac-12 is pretty bad), #144 Southern Illinois, #166 Illinois State, #167 Illinois, and #306 SIUE. The lowest-ranked team in America is #353 UNC-Asheville at 0-10. They managed 38 points against the #334 ranked team in mid-November and just lost to a D-2 school by 17 (although that doesn’t count in these rankings). Our previous #353, Delaware State, won their annual matchup against Delaware and jumped ahead of 8 winless teams in the process.

Games of the Week: Although some conferences have started already, conference play starts in earnest this week! There are a bunch of solid games on tap, so here are the 10 best. Again, I’ve given some predicted lines, but if you gamble using my numbers that’s at your own risk. If you don’t know what games to watch this week, pick one or several of these!
1. Michigan State @ Ohio State (even), Saturday
2. Oklahoma @ Kansas (-3.5), Wednesday
3. Kansas @ Iowa State (even), Saturday
4. Nebraska (-5) @ Maryland, Wednesday
5. Creighton @ Butler (-1.5), Saturday
6. Texas @ Kansas State (-2), Wednesday
7. NC State (-3) @ Miami, Thursday
8. Creighton (-2) @ Providence, Monday
9. Florida State @ Virginia (-9), Saturday
10. Marquette (-4.5) @ St. John’s, Tuesday

Thanks y’all, have a great week, a happy new year, and a blessed basketball season!

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