College hoops Power Rankings: The quick fall of Arizona

In three games at Battle 4 Atlantis, one thing became clear: Arizona is a mess. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

About a month ago, there was legitimate debate as to whether Arizona was the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Duke was the choice in the power rankings, but Arizona had nearly as much talent as the Blue Devils and more experience on top of it.

Now, Sean Miller and the Wildcats are completely out of the top 25 power rankings after an 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis. They lost to NC State, SMU and Purdue -- including a 25-point defeat to the Boilermakers. Three days, three losses, and Arizona is in disarray.

So what's wrong?

On the court, the most obvious issue is on defense. Arizona allowed 90 points to NC State and 89 points to Purdue -- after not giving up more than 85 points in a single game last season. One of the staples of a Miller-coached team is effort and solidity defensively, and this team simply doesn't have that right now. Because Arizona's best lineup includes 7-footer Dusan Ristic and 7-foot-1 Deandre Ayton, opponents are able to go smaller and bring at least one of the big men away from the basket. Arizona has never been a defense that forces turnovers under Miller. Combine that with an inability to defend the 3-point shot from the perimeter, and the Wildcats have issues.

Another byproduct of going big is Arizona's lack of 3-point production on offense. As a team, the Wildcats shot 10-for-54 (18.5 percent) from 3-point range during their three games in the Bahamas. Is it the absence of Rawle Alkins? Is it a lack of spacing? Freshmen still adapting? Maybe it's everything, but it's clearly a problem right now. Arizona's offense has been Allonzo Trier, Ayton and not much else so far. Brandon Randolph did have 17 points off the bench against Purdue, but he and Emmanuel Akot were scoreless in the first two games of the event.

Lastly, there are obviously distractions around the program right now. Assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson was among the assistant coaches arrested in late September in connection with the FBI investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball recruiting. He has since been fired. Is that weighing on Miller or the players?

It's only November, so Arizona has plenty of time to turn it around. The freshmen will get more comfortable, Alkins will return from injury soon, and the defense isn't likely to be so bad all season.

Right now? Arizona isn't a top-25 team.

Previous: Preseason | Week 1

1. Duke Blue Devils
Record: 8-0
Last week: 1
The Blue Devils didn't make any of it look easy, but they now have a win over Florida to go with the Champions Classic victory over Michigan State. Not many teams will be able to top those two wins over the course of the season, let alone in November. The schedule eases up a bit until ACC play, but will slow starts ever catch up to them?

2. Kansas Jayhawks
Record: 5-0
Last week: 3
There's a chance South Dakota State, Texas Southern and Oakland are in the NCAA tournament in March. Kansas beat them by a combined 120 points in the past week and a half. Maybe the most impressive aspect is that Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman are fourth and fifth on the team in scoring.

3. Michigan State Spartans
Record: 5-1
Last week: 4
The Spartans have responded well to their Champions Classic loss to Duke, rolling off four wins in a row -- including Sunday night's victory over North Carolina. Up next is an Big Ten/ACC Challenge showdown against Maui Invitational champs Notre Dame. Michigan State will have a major size advantage; fortunately, Miles Bridges seems fully healthy again.

4. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 6-0
Last week: 5
Villanova expected to get games against Purdue and Arizona at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Instead, the Wildcats faced Western Kentucky, Tennessee and Northern Iowa -- en route to a title, of course. Four of the Wildcats' next five games are against Philadelphia schools, sandwiched around a neutral-site game against Gonzaga.

5. Cincinnati Bearcats
Record: 6-0
Last week: 7
The schedule is getting progressively more difficult for Cincinnati, but the Bearcats haven't slowed down yet. That's likely to change the next two weekends, as Mick Cronin's team faces Xavier and Florida. A city rivalry game and a top-15 matchup on a neutral site will tell us how good Cincinnati really is.

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Record: 7-0
Last week: 8
If people tuned in just to watch the five-on-three battle in the second half against Alabama, this ranking seems asinine, because five Gophers were outscored by Collin Sexton and two Alabama teammates. But Minnesota now has wins over Alabama and at Providence -- with a huge chance at home against Miami on Wednesday.

7. Texas A&M Aggies
Record: 6-0
Last week: 15
While everyone was paying attention to Duke and Florida on Sunday night, Texas A&M quietly went into the Galen Center and beat USC by 16 points. The Aggies now have blowout wins over West Virginia and USC, plus victories over Oklahoma State and Penn State. The SEC is getting a lot of hype right now, and A&M might be the best of the bunch.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Record: 6-0
Last week: 18
Mike Brey and his shorts and T-shirt led the Fighting Irish to a Maui Invitational championship, coming back to beat Wichita State in the title game. The inside-outside duo of Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson is up there with the best in the country. If TJ Gibbs can get some consistency, Notre Dame will be a tough out.

9. Florida Gators
Record: 5-1
Last week: 13
The Gators were underrated in these rankings heading into the season, as their performance at the PK80 showed that experience, talented guards and toughness goes a long way. They don't get docked for the loss to Duke on Sunday. Remember, this team will also get John Egbunu back in January.

10. Miami Hurricanes
Record: 5-0
Last week: 11
Miami hasn't played anyone yet, but Wednesday's road trip to Minnesota will be a great barometer. Former five-star recruit Dewan Huell's emergence so far has been key for the Hurricanes. He leads the team in scoring and is second in rebounding. Lonnie Walker IV will have a breakout game at some point very soon.

11. Kentucky Wildcats
Record: 6-1
Last week: 12
It has been a quiet stretch for Kentucky since it lost to Kansas in Chicago at the Champions Classic. John Calipari seems to be figuring out his team more and more, though. Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seem more comfortable in the backcourt, and Kevin Knox is beginning to mature in his role offensively.

12. North Carolina Tar Heels
Record: 5-1
Last week: 16
Luke Maye is putting up numbers Carolina hasn't seen since Antawn Jamison, and his development as a legitimate go-to-guy offensively has been a huge boost for the Tar Heels. Kenny Williams hitting perimeter shots has helped. Sunday night was a missed opportunity at a statement win, but the victory over Arkansas was impressive.

13. Wichita State Shockers
Record: 4-1
Last week: 6
The Shockers blew a late lead against Notre Dame to lose in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. That's not the end of the world, obviously. One interesting note: Wichita State now hasn't defeated a top-25 team in the regular season since December 2015, when it knocked off Utah.

14. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Record: 5-1
Last week: 20
Mark Few's team is better than we thought heading into the season. Josh Perkins and Johnathan Williams III are ready to take the next step as seniors, while Few's collection of intriguing young big men gives him multiple options on a given night. Their ability to handle pressure was less than impressive against Texas, though.

15. Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 6-0
Last week: NR
This week's biggest riser -- and the Pac-12's highest-ranked team -- comes from Tempe. Behind 40 points from Tra Holder, Bobby Hurley's team beat Xavier by 16 points in the Las Vegas Invitational -- one day after taking care of Kansas State. They also have a win over San Diego State earlier this season. Arizona State has guards galore, and Romello White is a blossoming talent up front.

16. Xavier Musketeers
Record: 5-1
Last week: 9
The loss to Arizona State drops the Musketeers down several spots, but they can bounce right back into the top 10 with home games against Baylor and Cincinnati this week. One thing the defeat showed, though, was how reliant Xavier can be on Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura. Bluiett struggled, and Xavier didn't have as many answers.

17. USC Trojans
Record: 4-1
Last week: 10
USC had a chance on Sunday night to show it was going to be a threat all season, with or without De'Anthony Melton. The Trojans lost by 16 at home to Texas A&M, struggling in all facets on the offensive end. Maybe the preseason expectations were too lofty, especially with the questions surrounding Melton, but there's still a lot of talent here.

18. Louisville Cardinals
Record: 4-0
Last week: 19
So how good is Louisville? The Cardinals have beaten up inferior competition in their first four games of the season, but things heat up this week at Purdue and then home against Seton Hall. Both teams are as experienced as Louisville and have plenty of talent. This is a statement week for David Padgett.

19. Seton Hall Pirates
Record: 5-1
Last week: 14
A last-second loss to Rhode Island prevented Seton Hall from winning the NIT Season Tip-Off, but the Pirates bounced back with a win over Vanderbilt. Khadeen Carrington is in a mini-slump, though. In his past three games, Carrington is shooting 9-for-29 from the field, averaging 7.3 points.

20. Virginia Cavaliers
Record: 6-0
Last week: NR
Metrics love Virginia right now, slotting them in the top-five in some rankings -- but that's a bit much. One thing is clear, though: The Cavaliers were underrated in the preseason. They've already defeated VCU, Vanderbilt and Rhode Island, and Kyle Guy is looking like a bona fide go-to-guy offensively.

21. Baylor Bears
Record: 5-0
Last week: NR
It wasn't as flashy as some of the high-profile wins, but few teams had better weeks than Baylor, which went to Kansas City and handled business against Wisconsin and Creighton. The Bears now travel to Xavier on Tuesday and host Wichita State on Saturday. Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. has three straight double-doubles.

22. TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 6-0
Last week: 23
Jamie Dixon and the Horned Frogs went to Florida and came away with the Emerald Coast title after beating New Mexico and St. Bonaventure. Perhaps the biggest surprise for TCU has been the offensive emergence of Desmond Bane. He has hit double figures in all six games after doing it 11 times all last season.

23. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Record: 6-0
Last week: 25
After its 36-point win over Northwestern last Sunday, Texas Tech took care of business in a quieter fashion this week. Chris Beard has the Red Raiders playing some of the best defense in the country, and freshman Jarrett Culver is making an impact on a mostly veteran team. Culver totaled 39 points last week.

24. West Virginia Mountaineers
Record: 6-1
Last week: NR
After one week out of the rankings, West Virginia is back in after winning the Advocare Invitational -- beating Marist, UCF and Missouri. That's now six straight wins since the blowout loss to Texas A&M. More importantly, they're forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds at a rate more in line with what Bob Huggins wants to do.

25. Alabama Crimson Tide
Record: 5-1
Last week: 24
To be honest, most people probably came away more impressed by Alabama after watching the Crimson Tide outscore Minnesota despite playing with three players. Collin Sexton has been the leading candidate for most exciting player in college basketball since the summer, and his 40 points against the Gophers made that clear.

Dropped out: Arizona, Saint Mary's, Purdue, UCLA