The Michigan State Spartans are the top ranked team in the Associated Press’ Top-25 and The USA Today Coaches Poll for a third consecutive week when the rankings were revealed on Dec. 21. Now, the Spartans have another honor as they sit at of the inaugural ZoneDeeSports college hoops rankings.
Michigan State (12-0) is among five NCAA Division I teams that remain unbeaten. The Spartans improved a school-best 13-0 with a 99-93 overtime victory over Oakland University on Dec. 22 as senior guard Bryn Forbes canned seven three-pointers on the way to a career-high 32 points.
Michigan State was without star point guard Denzel Valentine, who is sidelined for two-to three weeks after undergoing a minor arthroscopic procedure on his left knee according to ESPN. Valentine injured his knee in practice on Dec. 20. Valentine leads the Spartans in virtually every statistical category, averaging 18.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. He is also shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Xavier, Oklahoma, SMU and South Carolina are the other four teams in Division I that have not lost a game. All four of the teams are also ranked in the Top-25 of ZoneDeeSports’ Week 1 rankings.
1. Michigan State (13-0)
The Spartans have four wins versus the top-50 teams in the nation and five victories against the top-100 teams in the nation. Michigan State also has wins over Kansas and Louisville. In addition, the Spartans have the fourth toughest defense to score upon as they surrender 56.9 points a game.
2. Virginia (10-1)
The Cavaliers have won nine in a row after eking out a 63-62 victory over California. Virginia has two big victories over West Virginia and Villanova. In addition, Virginia owns the nation’s ninth ranked defense as the Cavaliers surrender 58.9 points a contest.
3. Xavier (12-0)
The Musketeers is off to the best start in school history after surviving a scare from Wake Forest, Xavier won the game 78-70 after being down by as many as 18. The Musketeers have three wins against top-50 teams and three wins versus top-100 squads. More impressively, Each of Xavier’s first 11 wins were by at least nine points including a 10-point victory over arch-rival Cincinnati.
4. Oklahoma (10-0)
The Sooners escaped Hawaii 84-81 on Dec. 23 in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Tournament as Buddy Heidl tossed in 27 points. Oklahoma will face Harvard in the tournament final on Friday. The Sooners have a 23-point win against Villanova and is 3-0 against top-100 teams. Oklahoma is the fifth in the nation in scoring at 87.8 points a game.
5. Kansas (10-1)
The Jayhawks have nine Division I victories as they also have a win over D-II Chaminade in the Alaska Shootout. Kansas has won nine in a row and is 2-1 against top-50 teams and 3-1 against top-100 teams. The Jayhawks only loss was a six-point setback to Michigan State. Their best wins have been against Vanderbilt and UCLA.
6. Miami (Fla.) 10-1
The Hurricanes have won five straight following a one-point setback to Northeastern. Miami has key wins over Utah and Butler. They have played a pretty difficult schedule as only four of their 11 games have been against teams ranked below 150.
7. Iowa State (10-1)
The Cyclones hung on to their biggest win of the season so far, a 81-79 win over Cincinnati on Dec. 22. The win over Cincinnati came three days after Iowa State suffered a two-point loss to Northern Iowa. The Cyclones are 3-0 versus top-50 teams and 6-0 versus top-100 clubs.
8. Butler (10-1)
The Bulldogs have won six consecutive games, which includes wins over Cincinnati and Purdue. Overall, Butler is 2-1 against top-50 teams and 3-1 versus top-100 teams. They are the second-highest scoring team in the nation at 89.9 points a game.
9. UNC (10-2)
Carolina has two narrow defeats to Northern Iowa and Texas, both coming away from the Dean Center. The Tar Heels, who have dealt with injuries to key players, also have wins over Maryland and UCLA.
The Boilermakers rebounded their loss to Butler with a 68-55 victory over Vanderbilt on Dec. 22. Purdue is 4-1 against teams ranked in the top-50 but they also have seven victories over teams ranked lower than 150.
11. Texas A&M (9-2)
The Aggies have victories over Gonzaga and Baylor and are 4-0 against teams ranked in the top-50. Texas A&M is 4-0 without their top players this season.
12. SMU (11-0)
The Mustangs are 2-0 since Larry Brown returned to the bench, after serving a nine-game suspension. SMU is 4-0 when missing some of its top-players and 4-0 against top-100 teams.
13. Providence (12-1).
The Friars won their sixth straight game Monday night with a 90-66 victory over UMass. Providence hasn’t been the healthiest of teams, as star Kris Dunn has missed a pair of games and freshman Ryan Fazekas has missed four games – the Friars are 4-0 in games they have not had their top players. The Friars have an excellent win over Arizona but have played just six games against opponents ranked lower than 150.
14. Arizona (12-1)
The Wildcats have won seven consecutive games following their four-point loss to Providence (69-65). Arizona has a solid win at Gonzaga and is 1-1 against top-50 and is 4-1 against top-100 teams.
15. Maryland (10-1)
The Terps are on a four-game win streak. Maryland is 1-1 versus top-50 teams with its lone loss to North Carolina.
16. Villanova (9-2)
The Wildcats are 1-2 versus top-50 teams but were annihilated by Oklahoma and Virginia bested them by 11 (86-75). Villanova does own the 10th best scoring defense, giving up 59.3 points a game.
17. Kentucky (9-2)
The Wildcats have a win over Duke but also has losses to UCLA (77-67) and Ohio State (74-67). The loss to Ohio State (6-5) is one of the biggest surprising losses of a top-team.
18. Duke (9-2)
The Blue Devils had their seven game winning streak snapped by Utah (77-75) in their last game. Duke is 1-1 versus top-50 teams and 3-2 versus top-100 programs. Senior Amile Jefferson is out with a broken foot. Duke is eighth in the nation in scoring, averaging 86.2 points a contest.
19. Louisville (11-1)
The Cardinals have won six in a row since losing to Michigan State by four (73-69). Louisville is ranked in the top-11 of the nation in scoring and scoring defense, however, they don’t have a win over a top-100 team and are 3-0 against top-150 squads.
20. Dayton (9-2)
The Flyers are 3-1 against top-50 squads though they got hammered by 29 in their loss to Xavier. Dayton’s other loss was to the College of Charleston by two.
21.George Washington (10-2)
The Colonials were upset by DePaul (82-61) in their last game. George Washington is 2-1 against top-50 teams, which includes a victory over Virginia.
22. Cincinnati (10-3)
All three of the Bearcats losses have come against top-50 teams – Butler, Xavier and Iowa State. Cincinnati’s setbacks to Butler and Iowa State were by two-point apiece. The Bearcats are 7-0 against teams ranked lower than 150.
23.South Carolina (11-0)
The Gamecocks have played one of the weakest schedules in Division I, they have just one win over a top-100 team and three over teams ranked higher than 150.
24. West Virginia (10-1)
The Mountaineers have won three consecutive games. West Virginia is 1-1 versus top-50 programs and 3-1 versus top-150 with its lone loss coming to Virginia by 16 (70-54).
25. Pittsburgh (10-1)
The Panthers are 5-1 against top- 150 teams. Pitt’s only loss is to Purdue.
The Utes have a victory over Duke and is 5-2 against top-150 teams.
27. Texas Tech (9-1)
The Red Raiders are 6-1 against top-150 teams, including 1-0 versus top -50 squads. Texas Tech’s lone loss is to Utah.
28. Oregon (10-2)
The Ducks are 4-2 in their last six games and 1-1 without all of its top players. Oregon is also 6-2 against top-150 squads, including 2-0 against top-50 teams.
29. Gonzaga (10-3)
The Zags have nine Division I wins and are 1-2 versus top-50 squads. They also are 3-3 versus top-150 teams.
30. Iowa (10-3)
Other consideration not in any particular order: Connecticut (8-3),UCLA (8-4) Baylor (9-2), Texas (8-3), Northwestern (11-1), Vanderbilt (7-4), Florida State (9-2), Syracuse (8-3), Indiana (10-3)