College hoops Power Rankings: Arizona State's unlikely rise to No. 1

Arizona State hands Kanas 10-point loss (1:02)

Tra Holder drops 29 points and dishes out seven assists as No. 16 Arizona State sends No. 2 Kansas to their second straight loss 95-85. (1:02)

For the first time this season, the No. 1 team in the country lost. Duke has been atop the rankings since the preseason, but the Blue Devils' slow starts finally caught up to them in a road loss to Boston College. If the NCAA tournament began tomorrow, Duke would still probably be the pick here to win it all -- but it's impossible to keep the Blue Devils at No. 1 right now.

So who's next? Last week's No. 2 team was Kansas, but the Jayhawks went out and lost to Washington and Arizona State in the state of Kansas.

Michigan State and Villanova would be next, and one can certainly make the case for either team.

But let's go a different direction: What about Arizona State?

The Sun Devils went to Lawrence and beat Kansas by 10 on Sunday, two weeks after they knocked off Xavier on a neutral court in Las Vegas. They also have wins over Kansas State, St. John's and San Diego State. Of their five best wins, only the San Diego State game took place in Tempe.

On the court, are they the best team in the country? That's absolutely up for debate. They have defensive issues and maybe their insane 3-point shooting (48 percent against Xavier, 50 percent against Kansas) isn't sustainable, but Ohio State transfer Mickey Mitchell gave them a few minutes on Sunday after not playing since the 2016 NIT and freshman Kimani Lawrence should return soon. Until then, Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and the rest of the Sun Devils should hold down the fort.

What's not up for debate, though, is Arizona State's résumé. Right now, it's hard to make a case that any team in the country has a profile better than the Sun Devils. Villanova is undefeated, like Arizona State, and its two best wins are over Gonzaga and Tennessee. Michigan State has comparable wins over North Carolina and Notre Dame, but the Spartans also have a loss.

The crux of these Power Rankings is a season-long look. Teams don't automatically move up after a win or down after a loss. It's not purely an eye-test ranking, either, or else we could have Duke at No. 1 all season and that would be boring.

Arizona State put up 102 points on Xavier, 95 points at Kansas -- and has not lost a game yet. Will the Sun Devils be No. 1 on Selection Sunday? Will they be No. 1 when 2018 begins? We have no idea.

But right now, Arizona State has the best résumé in the country -- and that's good enough for No. 1.

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1. Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 9-0
Last week: 13

It's a big jump, for sure. And the metrics don't love the Sun Devils like we love the Sun Devils. But we'll see. Arizona State should keep this ranking for at least another two weeks with its next three games at home. Then comes the Pac-12 opener -- at Arizona.

2. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 10-0
Last week: 4

The Wildcats might be the best program in college basketball over the past five years, and they seem poised for another 1-seed in March. Oddly enough, they don't play another home game until 2018 -- their next four are on the road.

3. Michigan State Spartans
Record: 9-1
Last week: 3

Tom Izzo's group doesn't move up in the rankings despite losses for the two teams ahead of it last week. Michigan State might be the most impressive team in the country so far this season, from opening night until now, especially defensively.

4. Duke Blue Devils
Record: 11-1
Last week: 1

Duke should probably drop further after a bad loss to Boston College, but the Blue Devils still have several wins not a lot of teams can match: vs. Michigan State, vs. Texas, vs. Florida. All three came on neutral courts.

5. Wichita State Shockers
Record: 8-1
Last week: 9

The Shockers still don't have Markis McDuffie back from injury, but they've held serve -- aside from a one-point loss to Notre Dame in Maui. A win at Oklahoma State is better than it looks on paper, and they also won at Baylor.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels
Record: 9-1
Last week: 10

In what was supposed to be a down year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina is exceeding expectations -- and doing it without injured Cameron Johnson. Sunday brings a surprisingly tough test, as the Tar Heels travel to 7-1 Tennessee.

7. Miami Hurricanes
Record: 8-0
Last week: 7

It's still hard to get a true handle on Miami, as a road win last month at Minnesota doesn't look as great as it did when it happened. Outside of that win, the Hurricanes haven't really done much. But they're 8-0 -- and now go on the road for a month.

8. Texas A&M Aggies
Record: 8-1
Last week: 5

Texas A&M's season-opening win over West Virginia still looks good, and wins over USC, Oklahoma State and Penn State boost the résumé as well. The lone blemish is a loss to Arizona in Phoenix -- we can't penalize the Aggies too much for that one.

9. Kentucky Wildcats
Record: 8-1
Last week: 11

Well, it's about to get real for Kentucky. The Wildcats' best win up until this point was over Vermont, but we'll get a feel for them in the next few weeks. Home vs. Virginia Tech, neutral site vs. UCLA, home vs. Louisville -- and then SEC play begins.

10. Xavier Musketeers
Record: 9-1
Last week: 14

Xavier's loss to Arizona State in Las Vegas looks more acceptable every day, and the Musketeers have dominated outside of that game. The Musketeers took care of business this week against Kent State and Colorado to move into the top 10.

11. TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 10-0
Last week: 19

Perhaps the most consistent team in the Big 12 right now, TCU had a very impressive week -- even if it flew below the radar nationally. The Horned Frogs beat SMU at home and then knocked off Nevada at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

12. Seton Hall Pirates
Record: 8-1
Last week: 17

Since losing by one in Brooklyn to Rhode Island, Seton Hall has rattled off four straight wins, including victories over Texas Tech and Louisville. The Pirates demolished VCU on Saturday. Their in-state game at Rutgers comes this weekend.

13. Kansas Jayhawks
Record: 7-2
Last week: 2

What a bad week for the Jayhawks. They lost by nine in Kansas City to a Washington team whose previous best win was over Belmont, and then they fell at home by 10 to Arizona State. They have severe toughness and frontcourt issues.

14. Purdue Boilermakers
Record: 9-2
Last week: 20

Purdue continues to take care of business against good but not great opponents. After wins over Arizona, Louisville and Maryland, the Boilermakers beat previously unbeaten Valparaiso by 30 during the week before handling IUPUI.

15. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Record: 7-2
Last week: 12

Losing in New York City to Villanova is nothing for which to be ashamed, and Gonzaga bounced back nicely against a Washington team that was coming off a win over Kansas. This week gets easier, but a road trip to San Diego State looms next week.

16. West Virginia Mountaineers
Record: 9-1
Last week: 22

Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers have rolled since a blowout loss to Texas A&M in the season opener. They picked up their best win of the season last week, knocking off Virginia. Jevon Carter has been terrific, averaging 19.4 points, 6.0 assists and 3.8 steals.

17. Florida State Seminoles
Record: 9-0
Last week: NR

The week's highest-ranked newcomer, Florida State won at Florida to start the week, and then picked up a couple more wins to move to 9-0. Terance Mann has taken on a much bigger scoring load -- and is shooting 65 percent from the field. He had 25 against Florida.

18. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Record: 8-2
Last week: 8

Notre Dame had to be ranked high after its win over Wichita State, but the 13-to-19 range is probably more realistic this season for the Irish. A loss to Ball State sent them spiraling downward in the rankings, but that win over the Shockers is still a nice trump card.

19. Virginia Cavaliers
Record: 8-1
Last week: 15

Virginia's metrics look great, and the Cavaliers are playing ridiculous defense -- but they fall a couple of spots after a loss to West Virginia. Kyle Guy is one of the low-key, must-watch players in America. When he gets hot from 3, look out.

20. Tennessee Volunteers
Record: 7-1
Last week: 24

Rick Barnes has done a great job with the Vols this season, with their lone loss coming on a neutral court to Villanova -- by single digits. There's a win over Purdue, too. They have a chance to make a true statement on Sunday at home against North Carolina.

21. Arizona Wildcats
Record: 7-3
Last week: NR

Well, well, well -- look who's back. The preseason Final Four contender went from No. 2 to unranked after losing three straight. But a week that included wins over Texas A&M and Alabama gets the Wildcats back in the mix. Rawle Alkins' return will help.

22. Baylor Bears
Record: 7-2
Last week: 25

The loss of Terry Maston for a few weeks to injury will sting, as he was really starting to come on strong before getting hurt. The Bears are 2-1 without him and should rattle off a few more wins before Big 12 plays kicks off at Texas Tech.

23. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Record: 7-1
Last week: NR

Speaking of the Red Raiders, Chris Beard has been one of the most underrated coaches in the country for a few years now. In his 2½ seasons as a Division I head coach, Beard is now 55-20. Tuesday's win over Nevada was his best this season.

24. Arkansas Razorbacks
Record: 7-2
Last week: NR

There's the weird, 26-point loss at Houston, but the Razorbacks have one of the best collections of wins in the country. Saturday's home win over Minnesota gets them into the rankings, and they shouldn't relinquish their spot until SEC play starts.

25. Florida Gators
Record: 6-3
Last week: 6

Florida is hanging on for dear life after losing three straight to Duke, Florida State and Loyola Chicago. But the Gators bounced back to beat Cincinnati and now they have two wins most teams don't have: vs. Gonzaga and vs. Cincinnati.

Dropped out: Minnesota, Cincinnati, Nevada, Rhode Island