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Kansas moves up to No. 1 on Power 36 men's college basketball rankings

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College football ends Monday night. And for those who haven’t been so locked in college hoops, you’ll find a race wide open for Final Four favorite status.

The first leaders of No. 1 come from the Big Ten (Purdue), the SEC (Alabama and/or Tennessee), the Big 12 (Kansas), the Americans (Houston) and possibly the Pac-12 (Arizona) or the Big East (UConn). To dismiss the ACC just yet would be a mistake with North Carolina playing its best basketball of the season. And the glue for No. 2, 3 and 4 will be difficult to separate. The good thing is that it’s only early January and there’s plenty of time to figure out who belongs where on Selection Sunday.

One team that has exploded in the standings is Kansas State. And it’s not just because of this season’s best story with Keyontae Johnson, who collapsed in December 2020 while playing for Florida but is now a star for the Wildcats. Equal to Johnson’s impact has been the senior guard Markquis Nowell. Nowell is ours March Madness National Player of the Week After scoring 32 points and 14 assists in 43 minutes in a 97-95 overtime win at Baylor. That came after scoring 36 points and nine assists in a 116-103 win at Texas. The Wildcats are 3-0 in the Big 12, 14-1 overall.

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The 12 big rivals Iowa State won our March Madness Team of the Week after the Cyclones won at Oklahoma, 63-60, then beat TCU at Fort Worth, 69-67 on a 3-point Gabe Kalscheur. The Cyclones are now 3-0 in the Big 12, 12-2 overall.

Purdue, the AP number. 1 team in the country, had quite the week, losing to Rutgers at home, beating Ohio State in Columbus and then winning against Penn State on Sunday at historic Palestra. And my next favorite, Arizona, was close to taking the Boilers’ spot before being shocked by Washington State at home.

And that’s just one of the reasons why this week’s leaderboard has seen quite a few shakeups.

College Basketball Ranking: The Power 36 for Week 8

Last week’s ranking in parentheses

1. Kansas (3): The defending national champions have swept the Big 12 road games at Texas Tech and West Virginia and are poised to make another Final Four.

2. Purdue (1): The Boilermakers have had quite a week. Fletcher Loyer almost won two games for the Boilers if it hadn’t been for Cam Spencer’s shot against Rutgers. Loyer beat the Buckeyes with his shot. And then on Sunday, Player of the Year favorite Zach Edey scored 30 points and 13 boards in a 76-63 victory over ROAD in a great environment at the Palestra.

3.Houston (5): Houston went 4-0 in the United States with a road victory in Cincinnati. It will be hard to see the Cougars lose more than once or twice the rest of the season.

4. UCLA (4): The Bruins escaped with a win over USC, a rivalry game that will always be one of the toughest tests for them.

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5. Gonzaga (7): The Zags were pushed into two tough road environments by San Francisco and Santa Clara – but found a way to win both.

6.Tennessee (9): The Vols went 3-0 in the SEC and looked like the best in the league with…

7. Alabama (10): The Tide is also 3-0 after Kentucky’s 26-point loss at Tuscaloosa.

8. Kansas State (23): The Wildcats have been sensational this week with wins at Texas and Baylor. Jerome Tang is a National Coach of the Year nominee.

9.Arizona (2): The Wildcats had to fall after the loss to Washington State, but I still believe in this team as a Final Four contender.

10. UConn (6): The Huskies got the better of Creighton after a brutal two-game road trip against Xavier and Providence.

11. Iowa State (22): The Cyclones took a huge leap after sweeping road games at Oklahoma and TCU.

12. Texas (8): The Longhorns fell after the loss to Kansas State, but interim coach Rodney Terry rallied the team to beat Oklahoma State.

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13. Xavier (18): The Musketeers are 5-0 in the Grand Est after knocking out UConn at home and winning at Villanova.

14. Providence (24)The Brothers have won nine straight, including beating UConn at home, and are 6-0 in the Big East.

15. Michigan State (20)The Spartans are now 3-1 in the Big Ten after defeating rival Michigan.

16. TCU (13)The Horned Frogs were one defensive stop away from being tied with Kansas and Kansas State in the Big 12.

17. Clemson (RN): The Tigers beat Pitt on the road after winning at Virginia Tech and are suddenly atop the ACC standings at 5-0.

18. Marquette (28)The Golden Eagles have won four straight and are 5-1 in the Big East.

19. Miami (11): The ‘Canes’ stormed the top of the ACC before a bad loss at Georgia Tech.

20.Missouri (19): The Tigers bounced back from a loss to Arkansas with a win over Vanderbilt.

21. Pitt (27)The Panthers beat Virginia but then lost to Clemson. Still, Pitt is a surprising one-loss ACC team.

22. North Carolina (31): The Tar Heels are slowly rising. The loss to Pitt won’t be bad for them. Their rebound against Notre Dame showed they still had the goods.

23. Wisconsin (14)The Badgers suffered their first Big Ten loss of the season, but Tyler Wahl was not a factor in Illinois.

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24. Auburn (NR)The Tigers are back with a convincing win over Arkansas to move to 2-1 in the SEC.

25.Virginia (15): The Cavaliers lost to Pitt, which is no shame this season. The Cavaliers will always be at the heart of the race in the ACC.

26. Ohio State (12): The Buckeyes had a tough week with a last-possession loss to Purdue, then a loss at Maryland on Sunday. But this team will always be one of the best in the Big Ten.

27. Rutgers (32): The Scarlet Knights went 2-1 this week, but not the way they predicted with a road win at Purdue, a home win over Maryland, then a home loss to Iowa.

28. San Diego State (35)The Aztecs climbed to the top of the West Mountain again after a few weeks, picking up five straight wins, including a tough sweep of the Wyoming and UNLV roads.

29. Northwest (NR): The Wildcats now have two of the best road wins in the league with Ws at Michigan State and Indiana. Northwestern also rocked Illinois at home. They had a change of season week.

30. Duke (16)The Blue Devils were led by NC State but then picked up a win over Boston College. Duke is hanging in the Power 36, barely.

31. Saint Mary (34): The Gaels are 3-0 in the WCC and have once again established themselves as the one team to watch chasing the Zags.

32. Michigan (NR): The Wolverines beat Penn State at home and then lost to Michigan State. This Wolverines team figured out how to take on Hunter Dickinson and will play the rest of the season.

33. Dayton (NR): The Flyers are back in good graces with a 3-0 start in the A10 and the feeling that they will ultimately be the best in the league.

34. Charleston College (36)The Cougars have won 15 straight and are 4-0 in the CAA, 16-1 so far.

35. Iowa (NR)The Hawkeyes may be 2-3 in the Big Ten, but the last two wins have come via a 21-point comeback over Indiana at home and a wire-to-wire win at Rutgers on Sunday.

36. Tulane (NR)The Green Wave have won three in a row, including beating Memphis. They were a fashionable post-season choice in the pre-season and are starting to look the part.

AbandonedNew Mexico (17), LSU (21), Penn State (25), Baylor (26), Arkansas (29), Indiana (30), Utah (33).

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