ESPN shakes up BPI Top 25 college basketball rankings ahead of big weekend matchups

On3 imageby:Grant Grubbs02/23/24

grant_grubbs_

A storm is on the horizon. Before college basketball plows head first into a whirlwind weekend of ranked matchups, ESPN provided its latest BPI (Basketball Power Index).

ESPN’s BPI is a predictive rating system for college basketball that’s designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. With less than weeks until conference tournaments kick off, teams are on the hot seat to prove worthy of a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s where teams stand in ESPN’s BPI currently, starting with the rating system’s surprising No. 1 overall squad.

1. Houston Cougars

Houston
Troy Taormina | USA TODAY Sports

Houston picked up perhaps its most important win of the regular season on Monday with a 73-65 victory over No. 6 Iowa State. The Cyclones have been on a tear, earning the No. 2 spot in the Big 12 standings. On Monday, the Cougars sit hold the conference crown.

Senior guard Jamal Shead led the way for the Cougars, notching a game-high 26 points and six assists while shooting 6-10 from the field. Emmanuel Sharp added 20 points and four steals, as well. Houston has now won 20 straight games at home, the longest active streak in the country.

2. Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue's Zach Edey
Purdue’s Zach Edey (Chad Krockover)

After falling in stunning fashion to Ohio State on Sunday, the Boilermakers got back on track with a 96-68 win over Rutgers on Thursday evening. The win was a glaring sign of progress for Purdue, which narrowly defeated Rutgers 68-60 less than a month prior.

Reigning AP National Player of the Year Zach Edey was nearly perfect in the win, exploding for 25 points and seven rebounds while shooting 7-8 from the field and 11-11 from the charity stripe. Edey’s efficiency was contagious. Purdue shot 59% from the field to down the Scarlet Knights.

3. Arizona Wildcats

Arizona Wildcats
© Zachary BonDurant | USA TODAY Sports

For six games, Arizona looked unstoppable, boasting an average win margin of 19.5 points per game. However, the Wildcats stumbled on Thursday in a 77-74 loss against No. 21 Washington State.

The defeat held more weight than a simple tally in the loss column. With the win, Washington State surpassed Arizona in the Pac-12 standings. It was Arizona first loss at home this season, previously possessing a 13-0 record.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr.
Latrell Wrightsell Jr. (Courtesy of Alabama Athletics)

It wasn’t easy, but Alabama secured a 98-93 overtime win against No. 24 Florida on Wednesday. With nine minutes left in the game, the Crimson Tide trailed Florida by 10 points. Nobody backed down, with six Alabama players scoring double figures.

“We’re figuring out ways to win games,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said. “If you’re going to win league championships, which we’re obviously in the hunt for with five games left, these are the games that you’ve got to figure out ways to win when you don’t play well.”

5. UConn Huskies

UConn
© David Butler II | USA TODAY Sports

Before Tuesday, UConn had not lost since Dec. 20. No. 15 Creighton reminded the Huskies how it feels to be on the wrong side of a lopsided showdown. In the 85-66 loss, UConn only connected on a season-low 3-16 attempts from beyond the arc.

The 19-point loss is the worst the program has suffered since Houston beat them 84-45 in the American Athletic Conference Tournament on March 15, 2019. With four games left in the regular season, UConn will aim to rediscover its rhythm.

6. Tennessee Volunteers

Feb 20, 2024; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3) listens to head coach Rick Barnes against the Missouri Tigers during a time out during the first half at Mizzou Arena.
Denny Medley | USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee avoided catastrophe on Tuesday with a comeback win over Missouri. Missouri is 0-13 in conference play and the only remaining SEC team without a win against a conference opponent. Tennessee rallied from a seven-point deficit to tame the Tigers 72-67.

Dalton Knecht was largely to thank for UT’s impressive comeback. The SEC Player of the Year candidate scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. Tobe Awaka added 18 points and 10 rebounds to the Volunteers’ winning effort, as well.

7. Auburn Tigers

bruce-pearl-auburn-basketball (2)
Bruce Pearl (Photo by USA Today)

Auburn is enjoying a bye week after falling 70-59 at home against Kentucky this past Saturday. The loss ended a 13-game win streak for Auburn in Neville Arena. Auburn couldn’t find its touch in the loss, shooting 30.9% from the floor. Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl isn’t letting the loss slow him down.

“This wasn’t a demoralizing game. That’s a good team that played a really good game. What’s demoralizing about a loss to Kentucky when they play well? Do I look demoralized?” Pearl said during the postgame press conference.

8. Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa state basketball
Nirmalendu Majumdar | Ames Tribune | USA TODAY NETWORK

Iowa State couldn’t dethrone Houston to claim the crown in the Big 12 standings on Monday, but the Cyclones have nothing to be ashamed of. The team went shot-for-shot with a heavyweight for 12 rounds, and almost came out on top.

Even with the loss, Iowa State only trails Houston by one game in the conference standings. Keshon Gilbert amassed a team-high 17 points and five assists against the Cougars’ suffocating defense while shooting 6-10 from the field.

9. Creighton Bluejays

Creighton Blue Jays
© Steven Branscombe | USA TODAY Sports

Creighton put the nation on notice on Tuesday with its 19-point win over UConn. The rim looked wide for the Blue Jays, who connected on 14-of-their-28 attempts from 3-point range, the second-most 3-pointers the team has made in a single game this season.

“We played a really good game and we beat an incredible team, a team that has a legitimate chance to win a national championship,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “But we’re pretty good, as well.”

10. Duke Blue Devils

Duke HC Jon Scheyer
Rob Kinnan | USA TODAY Sports

Duke is heating up at the perfect time. After dominating Miami 84-55 on Wednesday, the Blue Devils have won five games in a row. Duke nailed 13 bombs from deep against the Hurricanes, the second-straight game Duke has made double-digit 3-pointers.

Jeremy Roach led the charge for the Blue Devils, dropping a team-high 16 points on 4-6 shooting from downtown. Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell each posted 15 points for the Blue Devils, as well. Filipowski has scored 15 or more points in three of his last four appearances.

11. Illinois
12. North Carolina
13. Baylor
14. Marquette
15. Saint Mary’s
16. BYU
17. Kansas
18. Michigan State
19. Gonzaga
20. Wisconsin
21. Wake Forest
22. Clemson
23. Kentucky
24. Florida
25. Texas