In a season of parity and unpredictability, three teams have clearly stood above the rest: Virginia, Villanova and Purdue. With seemingly every other team in the country suffering surprising losses every weekend, those three teams continue to roll along and stockpile wins. They have a combined zero losses in the 2018 calendar year.
But what about everyone else? Who are the "best of the rest" right now?
It's not just a debate for fun to figure out the fourth-best team in the country; there are, of course, four No. 1 seeds, and three of them would undoubtedly go to Virginia, Villanova and Purdue if the season ended today.
Right now, the conversation centers on Kansas and Xavier.
From an emotional standpoint, Kansas should theoretically drop from the fourth spot after losing at home to Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks have now lost three games at Allen Fieldhouse this season, plus another one at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. On paper, though, the Jayhawks' résumé is still impressive. They own wins away from home over West Virginia, Kentucky, TCU and Texas, with a home win over Texas A&M thrown in. Only five of their wins are against sub-100 teams. They rank in the top 12 in pretty much every metric, from RPI to BPI to KenPom and everything else.
Xavier's wins over St. John's and Georgetown by a combined 10 points last week might not overwhelm you, but the Musketeers have the No. 3 RPI, as well as a top-20 strength of schedule. They also have wins over Cincinnati, Creighton and Butler, and a road victory at Seton Hall -- all top-25 RPI teams. They own five quadrant 1 wins and five more quadrant 2 victories.
In this week's Power Rankings, Kansas still holds the edge.
Next month, which teams will likely be in the mix for the fourth 1-seed?
According to BPI, the best chance to earn the fourth No. 1 seed belongs to Tennessee -- followed by Duke, Auburn, Xavier, Michigan State and Kansas.
We're set up for a wild final few weeks.
1. Virginia Cavaliers
Last week: 1
We've talked ad nauseam about how Virginia is on pace to shatter the record for adjusted defensive efficiency in the KenPom era. The Cavaliers currently sit at 81.8 points per 100 possessions in that metric. Well, according to Bart Torvik's website, Virginia's adjusted defensive efficiency against top-50 teams is 77.8 and its adjusted defensive efficiency in its past 10 games is 78.5. Yes, this defense is historically good.
2. Villanova Wildcats
Last week: 2
Villanova had its best offensive outing of the season against Creighton last week, scoring 1.46 points per possession and knocking down 19 3-pointers. It was the 14th time this season the Wildcats have made double-digit 3-pointers -- yet they sit second nationally in 3-pointers per game, 0.3 per game behind Savannah State.
3. Purdue Boilermakers
Last week: 3
The Boilermakers' quest for a Big Ten title comes down to this week. They host Ohio State on Wednesday, then travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Saturday. Purdue has won 19 games in a row, although its past four wins have come by single digits -- including Sunday's two-point escape at Rutgers.
4. Kansas Jayhawks
Last week: 4
Despite the home loss to Oklahoma State, Kansas stays at No. 4, holding on to what would be the hypothetical final No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks have the most quadrant 1 wins in the country and the most quadrant 1 plus quadrant 2 wins. They're the only team in the country with an average RPI win higher than 100.
5. Xavier Musketeers
Last week: 5
There's a strong case to be made that Xavier should move up a spot to 4, but the Musketeers' Selection Sunday fate in terms of seeding will be decided over the next four games. Xavier starts this week with road trips to Butler and Creighton before returning home to face Seton Hall and Villanova. Twelve days from now, we'll know more.
6. Auburn Tigers
Last week: 7
Another week, another two wins for Bruce Pearl and Auburn. The Tigers have a two-game lead on Tennessee in the SEC standings and might be favored in every game the rest of the season. One of the weirdest stats for Auburn: The Tigers are one of the smallest power-conference teams in the country, yet they're sixth nationally in blocked shots percentage.
7. Duke Blue Devils
Last week: 6
The concerns for Duke are getting more, well, concerning. The Blue Devils' defense had looked better the past few weeks, holding seven consecutive opponents to less than one point per possession -- then allowed 1.19 to St. John's on Saturday. And now, their offense is becoming too inconsistent. They travel to North Carolina on Thursday.
8. Clemson Tigers
Last week: 14
Brad Brownell's team gets the biggest jump of the week. The Tigers had a good résumé a couple of weeks ago, but then second-leading scorer Donte Grantham was lost for the season. How would they react? After a brutal performance against Virginia, Clemson has won three in a row without Grantham. The Tigers have a top-five RPI and 10 quadrant 1 or 2 wins.
9. Cincinnati Bearcats
Last week: 9
So much for a competitive title race in the American Athletic Conference this season. Cincinnati has a three-game lead on Wichita State and Houston, and neither of those teams looks all that likely to close the gap. How high can the Bearcats rise, seeding-wise? Worth noting: They still have road games left at SMU, Houston and Wichita State.
10. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Last week: 10
The Red Raiders have bounced back nicely after a January slump in which they lost three of four. They've now won four in a row, including last week's overtime win over Texas and Saturday's trip to TCU. Keenan Evans had one of the best performances anywhere this season against Texas: 38 points on 13 shots, 18-of-20 from the free throw line.
11. Tennessee Volunteers
Last week: 11
Rick Barnes and the Volunteers are overshadowed in the SEC by what Bruce Pearl and Auburn have done this season, but they continue to march on, having won eight of nine. Five of Tennessee's final eight games are on the road, starting this week at Kentucky and Alabama -- two teams that need to develop consistency.
12. Michigan State Spartans
Last week: 13
The Big Ten doesn't offer a ton of chances for Michigan State to pick up profile-changing wins, which makes this weekend's showdown against Purdue so important. A win there and the Spartans have a chance to run the table -- which could ultimately result in a 1-seed if they win the Big Ten tournament.
13. Arizona Wildcats
Last week: 8
This drop in the rankings is not only because of Saturday night's buzzer-beater loss at Washington -- Arizona's profile is taking a hit due to some of its old opponents. The Wildcats don't have a win against a ranked opponent, with Texas A&M and Arizona State falling off in conference play. On the plus side, it looks as if Rawle Alkins is healthy again.
14. Oklahoma Sooners
Last week: 12
After losing at Texas on Saturday, Oklahoma has now lost five of its past nine games -- including its past five road games. Naturally, two of its next three games are on the road, but Monday's rematch against West Virginia will take place in Norman. Saturday was Trae Young's worst 3-point shooting performance of the season (2-for-14).
15. North Carolina Tar Heels
Last week: 15
The Tar Heels snapped their three-game losing streak with a 31-point drubbing of Pittsburgh on Saturday, but despite a loss to Clemson earlier in the week, they don't fall in the rankings. The No. 1 strength of schedule is a massive help, as are the Tar Heels' four quadrant 1 wins. Wins over Clemson, Tennessee and Ohio State continue to improve.
16. Ohio State Buckeyes
Last week: 18
Ohio State's profile will take a big jump over the next couple of weeks, or drop down a few notches. The Buckeyes start things off with a trip to Purdue on Wednesday, followed by a short respite at home against Iowa. Then it's back on the road to face Penn State and Michigan. The Purdue game could also decide the Big Ten title.
17. Rhode Island Rams
Last week: 24
This is a sizable jump for Dan Hurley's group, which has now won 14 in a row and sits at 11-0 in the Atlantic 10 after getting through a bumpy stretch of four road games (and five games overall) in 13 days. Rhode Island's résumé isn't taking a hit, either, as the Rams have a top-10 RPI, a top-five nonconference SOS and no bad losses.
18. West Virginia Mountaineers
Last week: 16
The Mountaineers have a weird way of having their most dominant performances after a losing streak. In January, they beat Texas by 35 after losing to Texas Tech and Kansas. On Saturday, they beat Kansas State by 38 after losing three in a row. Jevon Carter gets a second head-to-head matchup with Trae Young on Monday.
19. Saint Mary's Gaels
Last week: 22
Saturday's three-point win at San Diego was only the fifth time the Gaels have won by single digits during their 18-game winning streak. Saturday brings the all-important second game against Gonzaga. Saint Mary's won the first one in Spokane, and a second win would essentially clinch an outright West Coast Conference title.
20. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Last week: 23
There has been only one time since 2001 when Gonzaga hasn't won at least a share of the WCC regular-season title: 2012, when Saint Mary's won it by a game. If the Zags don't win in Moraga this weekend, though, the league is very likely going to the Gaels. Jock Landale dominated Gonzaga in the second half the last time out.
21. Miami Hurricanes
Last week: NR
Miami received bad news last week when Bruce Brown Jr. injured his left foot in practice, necessitating six weeks of recovery after undergoing surgery. The Hurricanes have come out strong since Brown's injury, though, beating Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. Freshman Lonnie Walker IV has now scored in double figures in seven straight games.
22. Kentucky Wildcats
Last week: 20
A road loss at Missouri doesn't knock Kentucky out of the rankings, but it certainly doesn't quell concerns regarding the Wildcats' lack of consistency. Their remaining schedule is brutal, too. Of Kentucky's final eight games, seven opponents have NCAA tournament hopes and rank in the top 55 of the BPI.
23. Nevada Wolf Pack
Last week: NR
Nevada is back in the rankings, buoyed by a top-15 RPI and a top-25 ranking in both KenPom and the BPI. Former NC State transfer Caleb Martin is putting up a sneaky, All-American-type season, scoring at least 15 points in all but two games this season. He went for 28 earlier this season against Boise State and hit Rhode Island for 24.
24. Seton Hall Pirates
Last week: 25
Not many teams are going to beat Villanova on the road, so the Pirates don't drop out despite the loss -- especially since they took care of business against Providence earlier in the week. After Wednesday's home game against Marquette, though, four of the Pirates' next five games are on the road. Seton Hall's seed could take a hit.
25. Butler Bulldogs
Last week: NR
After a tough stretch following the win over Villanova, Butler has won four in a row heading into a brutal week: home vs. Xavier on Tuesday, at Villanova on Saturday. The Bulldogs edge out Wichita State and Creighton for the final spot this week on the strength of their wins over Villanova and Ohio State.
Dropped out: Florida, Arizona State, Wichita State