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Our March Madness National Team of the Week, Hofstra, suddenly has burst onto the scene in the CAA. The jewel of the conference has been and is still the College of Charleston. The Cougars had won 20 games in a row. But Hofstra ended the streak behind Aaron Estrada’s 25 points in an 85-81 win in Charleston. Hofstra won at Elon earlier in the week and suddenly is just a game behind Charleston, tied with Towson, for second place in the CAA at 8-2. Estrada is the kind of player that could cause havoc in the NCAAs if the Pride were to get past Towson, among others, and upset Charleston’s favored bid to win the CAA AQ.
Now, onto the rankings. Look, we are in the time frame of the season where conference races are heating up and teams are going to take on losses. Toss in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge last weekend and the results were a bit wild. That means the rankings are filled with teams that have suffered a loss.
1. Purdue (1): The Boilermakers are heading toward being the No. 1 overall seed.
2. Tennessee (3): Rick Barnes beat his old school Texas and have ascended to top-line status.
3. Alabama (2): The Tide got run out of Norman. But Alabama still has been playing as well as anyone overall.
4. Kansas State (4): The Wildcats are in the Big 12 portion of our rankings with a split last week like essentially every Big 12 team.
5. Kansas (7): The Jayhawks ended the skid with a win at Kentucky.
6. Baylor (10): The Bears outlasted Arkansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
7. Iowa State (11): The Cyclones beat Kansas State and lost at Missouri. Not a bad week.
8. Indiana (14): The Hoosiers are back to where I projected — top 10.
9. Houston (9): The Cougars bounced back after the Temple loss and beat Cincinnati.
10. Arizona (12): The Wildcats survived a Northwest trip with a sweep in the state of Washington.
11. UCLA (6): The Bruins got beat at USC. But I still believe this is a top-12 squad.
12. Texas (8): The Longhorns didn’t play well at Tennessee, but they are still one of the best in the Big 12.
13. TCU (5): The same is true for the Horned Frogs, which got beat at Mississippi State, but are elite in the Big 12.
14. Virginia (18): The standings may not show it, but the Cavaliers are starting to look like the best in the ACC.
15. Gonzaga (16): Julian Strawther went for 40 in a win at Portland.
16. Marquette (19): Shaka Smart has to be in contention for Big East coach of the year. He’s doing a masterful job.
17. Xavier (15): The Musketeers lost at Creighton, but that was after winning at UConn. Not a bad week at all.
18. North Carolina (22): The Tar Heels have won six of seven.
19. Saint Mary’s (26): The Gaels have won 10 in a row as Aidan Mahaney buried a game-winner to win in Provo with 0.3 seconds left.
20. Creighton (NR): The Bluejays have won four in a row, including beating Xavier and Providence at home.
21. Illinois (NR): The Illini have figured it out and are starting to roll.
22. Providence (28): Ed Cooley is right there with Shaka Smart for coach-of-the-year honors. He’s done a great job with Providence yet again.
23. Michigan State (21): The Spartans have figured out how to win games, except when they have to defend Zach Edey.
24. USC (29): The win over UCLA should remind everyone that this squad needs to be taken seriously. And Boogie Ellis is a baller.
25. Clemson (25): The Tigers are 10-1 in the ACC. They are one of the surprise stories this season.
26. Northwestern (NR): The Wildcats had an eight-day COVID pause and won three games when they came back over Wisconsin, at Nebraska and over Minnesota to land sole possession of second in the Big Ten.
27. Iowa (30): The Hawkeyes have Rutgers’ number and that bodes well for a second-half Big Ten run.
28. Rutgers (27): The Scarlet Knights have defended well, except against Iowa
29. Kentucky (24): The Wildcats had won four SEC games in a row before losing to Kansas.
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30. Maryland (NR): The Terps are a different team at home. Now 11-1 at home. And they’ve got a showdown coming against Indiana.
31. San Diego State (31): The Aztecs are 8-1 in the Mountain West ahead of Boise State, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah State.
32. Temple (33): The Owls kept pace with Houston and Memphis in the AAC.
33. Duke (23): The Blue Devils blasted Georgia Tech after a tough last-possession loss to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
34. Texas A&M (NR): The Aggies are 7-1 in the SEC after winning at Auburn.
35. Missouri (NR): The Tigers got a massive win over Iowa State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
36. FAU (36): The Owls have won 19 in a row and are 21-1, 11-0 in C-USA.
Dropped out: Charleston (17), New Mexico (20), Oklahoma State (32), UConn (34), VCU (35),