<
>

Power Rankings: Tennessee takes over the top spot

play
RJ Barrett leads Duke with 30 points in win vs. Virginia (1:47)

RJ Barrett goes off for 30 points as Duke edges Virginia 72-70. (1:47)

The situation was primed for a No. 1 debate. With Duke losing to Syracuse on Monday, Michigan moved to the top line -- and then promptly lost to Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. That left the door wide open heading into Saturday night. If Virginia had beaten the Blue Devils, the Cavaliers would have been the last unbeaten remaining in college basketball, with a win in Durham in their back pocket. That might have been enough to move them atop the rankings.

We'll never get to that debate, though.

Virginia lost to Duke on Saturday night, meaning Michigan and Virginia both suffered their first losses of the season on Saturday. Combine that with Duke losing to Syracuse on Monday, and the new No. 1 is Tennessee.

The Volunteers have been hovering near the top of the rankings since the start of the season, with their lone loss coming in overtime against Kansas back in November. Qualitatively, they have been in the discussion for nation's best team all season.

And now with zero unbeatens remaining, Tennessee moves to the top of the one-loss pile -- and therefore the top of the rankings.

Wednesday: Texas Tech falls after home loss to Iowa State

Texas Tech's defense had carried the Red Raiders to a 15-1 start, not allowing a single opponent to score above one point per possession and establishing itself as the premier defensive unit in the country. There remained questions about the offense, though, and whether Tech had enough firepower to win games when the defense struggles.

We got a taste of that Wednesday night, when Iowa State went into Lubbock and upset Texas Tech 68-64. The Cyclones scored 41 points in the first half to take a lead into intermission. That wasn't overly unusual, given that the Red Raiders have needed second-half comebacks multiple times in recent weeks.

This time around, the Red Raiders struggled to find consistent offense and couldn't get clutch stops late. Behind Jarrett Culver's 20 points and 16 rebounds, Tech eventually tied the game with less than two minutes left, but Iowa State came right back down and buried a pull-up jumper and then got a transition layup to retake the lead.

Texas Tech doesn't drop too far in the rankings, as Chris Beard still owns an elite defense -- but the questions about offensive consistency are still there, and Culver's supporting cast will need to step up moving forward when the defense has an off night.

Monday: Michigan moves to No. 1

Tre Jones is out, Duke lost and we need a new No. 1.

Duke had been at the top of the rankings for most of the season, jumping Kansas on opening night, dropping after the Gonzaga loss and then retaking the mantle after Kansas fell. But after the Blue Devils suffered their second loss of the season on Monday -- at home to Syracuse -- the debate begins once again. With Jones injured, Duke's fall from the top could last longer this time.

There are really only three top candidates right now: Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia.

We'll likely have a more detailed debate come Sunday, after Michigan plays at Wisconsin, Virginia plays at Duke and Tennessee finishes up home games against Arkansas and Alabama, but for now, the top spot goes to Michigan.

The Wolverines arguably have been the nation's most consistent team since the start of the season, with only two of their 15 wins decided by single digits. They have won 31 of their past 32 games dating to last season, with the lone loss coming in the national championship game against Villanova.

Despite all that, they haven't moved to No. 1 at all during that stretch ... until now.

1. Tennessee Volunteers (16-1)
Previous ranking: 2
This week: Beat Arkansas 106-87 on Tuesday, beat Alabama 71-68 on Saturday

The Volunteers nearly missed their chance to take advantage of Michigan's loss, barely surviving at home against Alabama. It was their worst offensive performance since their loss to Kansas in late November, as they struggled to get second-chance opportunities and made only three 3-pointers. That said, they've now won 11 in a row.

2. Duke Blue Devils (15-2)
Previous ranking: 3
This week: Lost to Syracuse 95-91 in overtime on Monday, beat Virginia 72-70 on Saturday

Looks like we wrote off the Tre Jones-less Blue Devils too quickly after the loss to Syracuse earlier in the week. RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson showed why they're the favorites to go 1-2 in June's NBA draft, combining for 57 points and 14 rebounds on 21-for-35 shooting. Duke's weaknesses were point guard depth, half-court offense and 3-point shooting. The Blue Devils played five guys for 33-plus minutes apiece, there were just 60 possessions and Duke made two 3-pointers -- and still handed Virginia its first loss of the season.

3. Michigan Wolverines (17-1)
Previous ranking: 4
This week: Lost at Wisconsin 64-54 on Saturday

We had seen the Wolverines' defense slip a little bit in recent weeks, but their offense was bailing them out. On Saturday, the offense disappeared and John Beilein's team suffered its first loss of the season. Simply put, it's hard to win games when your top two scorers -- Ignas Brazdeikis and Charles Matthews -- combine for five points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field.

4. Virginia Cavaliers (16-1)
Previous ranking: 2
This week: Beat Virginia Tech 81-59 on Tuesday, lost to Duke 72-70 on Saturday

Virginia made 23 3-pointers in its past two games and hadn't made fewer than four in a game all season -- and then the Cavaliers went out against Duke and shot 3-for-17 from behind the arc in a two-point loss. Everything else sort of went according to plan; Duke simply had RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, and Virginia didn't have an answer. A two-point loss at Cameron Indoor isn't the end of the world, though.

5. Gonzaga Bulldogs (18-2)
Previous ranking: 5
This week: Beat Loyola Marymount 73-55 on Thursday, beat Portland 89-66 on Saturday

Since the return of Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall from their injuries, it seems that coach Mark Few has settled on an eight-man rotation -- although Jeremy Jones, who played double-figure minutes in all but one game this season, played only two minutes Saturday. Against Portland, all five starters, as well as Tillie and Crandall off the bench, scored in double figures.

6. Michigan State Spartans (16-2)
Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat Nebraska 70-64 on Thursday

Joshua Langford is still out. Kyle Ahrens, who has stepped up while players are injured, is out. No problem for Cassius Winston, who continues to establish his All-America candidacy. He had 29 points and six assists in Thursday's victory at Nebraska. The Spartans deserve to be in the national title conversation; they've now won 19 straight regular-season Big Ten games.

7. Virginia Tech Hokies (15-2)
Previous ranking: 8
This week: Lost to Virginia 81-59 on Tuesday, beat Wake Forest 87-71 on Saturday

That was a much-needed offensive performance for the Hokies after scoring just 59 points against Virginia earlier this week and 52 against Georgia Tech last week. They hit 11 3-pointers and were led by another stellar performance from Nickeil Alexander-Walker: 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists. Buzz Williams' team heads to North Carolina on Monday.

8. Nevada Wolf Pack (18-1)
Previous ranking: 9
This week: Beat Boise State 72-71 on Tuesday, beat Air Force 67-52 on Saturday

The Wolf Pack struggled with Air Force for too long on Saturday (although the Falcons beat San Diego State and UNLV in back-to-back games heading into the weekend), but ended up cruising to a win after yet another dominant second-half performance. Trey Porter continues to be an X factor for coach Eric Musselman; he hit double figures for the second game in a row. Porter's size and mobility provides an added dimension at both ends of the floor

9. Kansas Jayhawks (15-2)
Previous ranking: 10
This week: Beat Texas 80-78 on Monday, lost at West Virginia 65-64 on Saturday

The Jayhawks have now lost three of their past eight games, with all three losses coming without Udoka Azubuike -- who is out for the season, of course. It wasn't a vintage day for the Kansas backcourt, as Devon Dotson turned it over seven times and Quentin Grimes had just eight points on 3-for-7 shooting. Bill Self continues to shuffle his bench rotation, too, looking for the right formula.

10. Kentucky Wildcats (14-3)
Previous ranking: 11
This week: Beat Georgia 69-49 on Tuesday, beat Auburn 82-80 on Saturday

Kentucky just might be hitting its stride as conference play heats up. The Wildcats went into Auburn on Saturday and knocked off the Tigers in a really complete offensive performance. Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson both had 20 points, while Ashton Hagans scored just six points but dished out six assists and grabbed seven rebounds. It was Kentucky's most efficient offensive outing since mid-December vs. Utah.

11. Buffalo Bulls (17-1)
Previous
ranking: 12
This week: Beat Western Michigan 88-79 on Tuesday, beat. Eastern Michigan 77-65 on Friday

After taking a back seat to Jeremy Harris' midseason resurgence, CJ Massinburg took back the spotlight on Friday night, scoring his most points since his performance against West Virginia in the second game of the season. Massinburg finished with 31 points in the win over Eastern Michigan, burying six 3-pointers and also getting to the free throw line.

12. Houston Cougars (18-1)
Previous ranking: 13
This week: Beat SMU 69-58 on Wednesday, beat South Florida 69-60 on Saturday

The margin doesn't look overwhelming, but the Cougars finally got back to guarding effectively against South Florida on Saturday. After giving up more than one point per possession in each of the past four games, Houston held South Florida to 60 points on 68 possessions. That comes despite South Florida taking 41 free throws, as the Bulls made only 14 shots from the field.

13. North Carolina Tar Heels (14-4)
Previous ranking: 14
This week: Beat Notre Dame 75-69 on Tuesday, beat Miami 85-76

Nassir Little is quietly becoming more of a factor as the ACC season progresses. He had 12 points in 13 minutes off the bench against Miami on Saturday after going for 11 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes earlier in the week. It's been a big storyline for the Tar Heels through the first two months of the season, but Little is clearly buying into his role.

14. Texas Tech Red Raiders (15-3)
Previous ranking: 7
This week: Lost to Iowa State 68-64 on Wednesday, lost to Baylor 73-62 on Saturday

Texas Tech: That's now back-to-back losses for the Red Raiders, missing their opportunity to inch ahead in the Big 12 title race with Kansas' struggles. Saturday was by far Texas Tech's worst defensive performance of the season, allowing Baylor to score 1.13 points per possession -- after not allowing a single opponent to hit the one-point mark all season. The Bears were also the first team to tally 70 points against Tech.

15. Marquette Golden Eagles (15-3)
Previous ranking: 16
This week: Beat Georgetown 74-71 on Tuesday, vs. Providence (noon ET Sunday, CBSSN)

Markus Howard played just three minutes against Georgetown on Tuesday before departing with back spasms, but the Golden Eagles came back to beat the Hoyas behind 31 points from Sam Hauser and some clutch late defense. Howard's health is obviously paramount moving forward. Coach Steve Wojciechowski said after the game that he was "not sure how serious it is."

16. Iowa State Cyclones (14-4)
Previous ranking: Unranked
This week: Beat Texas Tech 68-64 on Wednesday, beat Oklahoma State 72-59 on Saturday

Iowa State went into Lubbock and knocked off the Red Raiders for the Cyclones' second huge win of the season, following their blowout victory over Kansas two weekends ago. The only team in the country with a better pair of wins might be Kansas (over Tennessee and Michigan State). After beating Kansas, though, Iowa State lost to Baylor and Kansas State; the Cyclones need better consistency this time.

Dropped out: Oklahoma (No. 16), NC State (No. 13), Florida State (No. 11), Ole Miss (No. 15)