College Basketball Broadcaster and Reporter
If you are a coach who is willing to schedule a marquee matchup in the opening week of the college basketball season, I have an immense amount of respect for you because opening week in this sport doesn’t have enough high-level games.
Along those lines, those who were willing to play and lost are not going to get ripped by yours truly in my top 25 because it is early in the season and I’d argue playing a fellow top-25 team and being competitive means more than anything we can gain out of games against low to mid-major opponents. For those who come out with a win, it’s the added bonus factor of respect and rewarding those teams for getting an early résumé victory.
This weekend, Arizona earned a win that very well could rank as one of, if not the best road win by a team this season. The Wildcats showed their experience and toughness behind breakout player Kylan Boswell, San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson and North Carolina transfer Caleb Love in a 78-73 win over Duke. Tommy Lloyd moved to 63-11 overall as Arizona’s head coach, and 5-1 against AP top-five teams. Meanwhile, Jon Scheyer suffered his first loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium as Duke’s head coach.
The other two teams that really showed me something over the weekend both come from the Southeastern Conference: Tennessee and Texas A&M. Both went on the road to Big Ten environments and won Friday night.
Northern Colorado transfer Dalton Knecht led the Volunteers with 24 points in an impressive 80-70 win over Wisconsin, the latest case of Tennessee showing that its offense has more dimensions this season. An early-season victory over a Badgers team that returns their entire starting lineup and nine of their top-10 scorers back says a lot.
Meanwhile, Buzz Williams and his Texas A&M team beat Ohio State, 73-66, with a trio of players each scoring 20-plus points. It says a lot that the Aggies shot 3-for-16 from 3-point land and still gutted the game out defensively, with Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford each scoring 21 and big man Henry Coleman III going for 20 points and 11 rebounds. With this experience on the roster, the Aggies can be an SEC regular-season title candidate.
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at my top 25 rankings after the opening week of the season.
1. Kansas (2-0)
Hunter Dickinson scored 18 points with eight rebounds, leading five players in double-figures as the Jayhawks dominated Manhattan to go to 2-0. The schedule ramps up Tuesday with a showdown against Kentucky in Chicago.
2. Purdue (2-0)
Zach Edey has totaled 34 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks in the first two games of his senior year. Purdue hosts Xavier on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
3. Marquette (2-0)
Kam Jones is an elite scorer who doesn’t get enough attention nationally. The junior has put up a pair of 20-plus point performances to lead the 2-0 Golden Eagles. They visit Illinois on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.
4. Arizona (2-0)
Is Kylan Boswell made for the spotlight? It sure looks that way. His 12-point, eight-rebound, five-assist outing was very impressive against Duke.
5. UConn (2-0)
In just 31 minutes to start the season, 7-foot-2 center Donovan Clingan has put up 28 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. The Huskies host Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on FS2.
6. Creighton (2-0)
Junior Trey Alexander posted 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor in the Bluejays’ 89-60 win over North Dakota State. Creighton hosts Iowa on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on FS1.
7. Tennessee (2-0)
Not only was Knecht great for the Volunteers, but fifth-year senior Josiah-Jordan James had 14 points and six rebounds in Friday’s win in Madison. James is another guy who will help Tennessee’s versatility.
8. Arkansas (2-0)
The Razorbacks beat Gardner Webb on Friday, 86-68, behind 15 blocks in the game, the most ever by an Eric Musselman-coached team. Sophomore Trevon Brazile highlighted the effort with five rejections. The other player to watch for the Razorbacks is Khalif Battle. He has scored 21 points in back-to-back games to start the year.
9. Houston (2-0)
J’Wan Roberts and LJ Cryer combined for 32 points in a Cougars win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday. Kelvin Sampson’s team hosts Stetson on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.
10. Duke (1-1)
The Blue Devils can’t just be the Kyle Filipowski show. He posted 25 points and eight rebounds in the game against Arizona, but he didn’t get enough help on the perimeter in that game. Tyrese Proctor shot 3-of-9 from the floor and 1-of-6 from 3-point range in the defeat. His evolution as this season goes on is critical for Duke.
The remaining Top 25:
11. Florida Atlantic (1-0)
12. Miami (2-0)
13. Texas A&M (2-0)
14. Villanova (2-0)
15. Michigan State (1-1)
16. Gonzaga (1-0)
17. Baylor (3-0)
18. USC (2-0)
19. Texas (2-0)
20. St. John’s (1-0)
21. North Carolina (2-0)
22. Illinois (2-0)
23. Memphis (2-0)
24. Mississippi State (2-0)
25. Alabama (2-0)
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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