If I told you that the Big Ten, right now, has two of its five greatest coaches in conference history strolling the sidelines, would you believe it? Statistically, it will be true in a few days -- if not by the end of Thursday.
The Big Ten has existed for 126 years. Purdue's next win -- which could come Thursday night; check the Purdue capsule below for more -- will put Matt Painter at 372 victories with the Boilermakers. That will be a significant victory, as it will nudge him past Ward "Piggy" Lambert on the all-time Big Ten men's hoops ledger. Lambert coached at Purdue (and only Purdue) from 1916-1948.
Painter will soon sit fifth in victories in league history.
Tom Izzo is soon going to be first. Michigan State's coach sits at 658 career wins. He's just four victories away from tying Bob Knight for the most wins by a men's basketball coach in Big Ten history. Twenty years ago, it was almost unthinkable that anyone could pass Knight in this regard, but Izzo's going to do it.
Winningest coaches in Big Ten history
|Tom Izzo||658||Michigan State||1995-present|
|Piggy Lambert||371||Purdue||1917, 1919-46|
That's quite the list. If Izzo goes for another five seasons and gets close to 750, he could put the number out of reach for decades. These are special times and a special season for the Big Ten, which has five teams capable of winning the conference title.
Let's get to this week's power rankings.
Hey Nineteen Power Rankings
Reminder: My rankings are not solely about whom I think is "best." (Our Top 25 And 1 already does that daily.) The Hey Nineteen is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most interesting teams in college basketball, combining team quality with win quality but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks.
| Record: 19-1 | Last week: 1st. Auburn fans' gift for their program's first No. 1 ranking in school history was a lemon-booty 55-54 win at Missouri on Tuesday night, an affair that was so bizarre it finished with the Mizzou student section chanting "OVER-RATED!" to a team that just won the game. Did you know: Auburn's 112 wins in the past five seasons are tops among all SEC teams. And this is the third school Bruce Pearl has brought to a No. 1 ranking, joining Tennessee in 2008 and Southern Indiana in Division II back in 1997. He's the only SEC coach to bring two schools in that conference to the top of the polls. Next up: home vs. Oklahoma on Saturday. |
| Record: 15-2 | Last week: 2nd. From Nov. 29-Dec. 28, Drew Timme wasn't quite himself on the court. The Bulldogs had a pause in that span, but played six games that saw Timme average 14.7 points — pedestrian for him. Since the calendar flipped, Gonzaga's played four games in January and Timme has averaged 25.8 points on more efficient shooting numbers. He's not the player of the year today, like he was predicted in the preseason, but I'd still have him First Team All-America right now.|
| Record: 17-2. Last week: 5th. The Cougars continue to smother inferior AAC foes. UH is allowing 58.0 points per game in conference play, but a road test against competent UCF is coming Saturday. Houston's most recent win was a 79-36 stifling against East Carolina. The Pirates managed only .56 points per possession, which qualifies as barely being able to breathe. |
| Record: 17-2. Last week: 6th. For me, Monday's monumental performance by Ochai Agbaji pushed him to No. 1 in the NPOY race (narrowly ahead of Oscar Tshiebwe). Agbaji's 37 points in Kansas' 94-91 win were the most scored in that building since Buddy Hield's 46 in triple overtime in 2016. The Kansas senior is averaging a Big 12-best 21.3 points, good for ninth nationally. At this point I don't know if I can be talked out of him being a lottery pick. His 47% 3-point shooting keeps Kansas lethal. |
| Record: 18-2 | Last week: 7th. I spoke with Baylor coach Scott Drew on Wednesday and he told me that the tailbone injury to starting point guard James Akinjo is one of those issues where we won't know when he's good to return until Akinjo goes through a pregame routine and declares he feels well enough — and the team trainer concurs. Drew doesn't expect it to be much longer, so perhaps Baylor's game at Alabama on Saturday could see him back, but if not, home against West Virginia on Monday seems like the latest. |
| Record: 14-2. Last week: 14th. UCLA has to jump in a big way after the Bruins won their past three games (two on the road, one at home against Arizona, the No. 3 team in the AP Top 25) by a combined 27 points. It reestablished UCLA's preseason stature as a no-brainer top-10 team. I expect the Bruins to be no worse than No. 6 when we meet here again next week, as home games vs. Cal and Stanford are next and UCLA will be double-digit favorites in both of those games. |
| Record: 16-3. Last week: 12th. Don't go nuts on me here, but I'm kind of — just a little, OK? — surprised that Mike Krzyzewski's retirement tour of a season has been mostly handled at a reasonable volume level amongst the media. That's my view on it, anyway. I'd be interested to hear yours. (Come find me on Twitter.) On the court, I must note that Duke's narrow home win Tuesday vs. Clemson happened in large part because Paolo Banchero took over (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists), working the post and commanding the offense. I think we're going to see a lot more of that into February. |
| Record: 16-2 | Last week: 3rd. Plenty of credit to UCLA for getting Arizona into a blender, but also: it was just an unlucky shooting night. Kerr Kriisa was 0-12, Bennedict Mathurin 5-22. The Wildcats simply had a bad night. Prior to the UCLA loss, Arizona won at Cal and Stanford, going 2-1 since last week's Hey Nineteen. Now a three-game homestand begins with Arizona State, then a rematch vs. UCLA is followed with USC. Good stretch for the Pac-12 here. |
| Record: 15-6. | Last week: 19th. Given how great Marquette has looked, there's no lower spot this week than ninth. Shaka Smart's team has three road wins in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, the program's longest in league play since 2018-19. Two of those road wins are against Villanova and Seton Hall. Justin Lewis has become one of the best players in the country in January; he had 33 points, nine rebounds and six assists in Marquette's 10-point win at Seton Hall on Wednesday. A humongous road matchup vs. Providence awaits Saturday. Marquette's winning streak started by beating PC on Jan. 4 to the tune of 88-56. |
| Record: 15-3 | Last week: 4th. Lone game since last week's rankings was the 86-74 home loss to Michigan State. Bucky plays at Nebraska on Thursday night, then turns around for a home affair vs. Minnesota on Sunday. The Badgers are in a four-way tie atop the Big Ten standings in the loss column, clogged up with two losses just like Michigan State, Illinois and Ohio State. |
| Record: 16-3 | Last week: 8th. The Boilermakers are a 5-3 Big Ten outfit, yet still feel like they're going to finish atop the Big Ten ledger. Thursday could play a major part in that, however, when they play a slippery one at Iowa. First team to 90 wins? Will Trevion Williams return to his efficient ways? His ORtg at KenPom.com in Purdue's last three games: 81, 35, 96. The 13 games before that: an average of 125, which roughly equates to 1.25 points per shot. Jaden Ivey will be back, too, after missing the previous game with a hip issue. |
| Record: 15-5 | Last week: 13th. No punishment here for the Red Raiders after they took Kansas to two overtimes and narrowly did something that's never been done. Did you know that Texas Tech has never swept KU in the regular season? In fact, the Red Raiders are 1-21 all time at Allen Fieldhouse. At least they beat KU at home in early January. Tech will host a Mississippi State team on Saturday that is smarting after its own just-miss on the road against a blueblood; the Bulldogs lost in overtime at Kentucky. And speaking of … |
| Record: 16-4 | Last week: 10th. I'd narrowly rank Agbaji as the player of the year right now, but UK's Oscar Tshiebwe is behind by a miniscule margin. He's averaging 16.3 points and 15.2 rebounds. We haven't had a player average 15.1 or more rebounds in men's college basketball in more than 40 years. Tshiebwe is also a 61.5% shooter (all attempts 2-pointers). His discipline in the offense has been significant for a UK team that's still awaiting on TyTy Washington's return after twisting his ankle last weekend at Auburn. |
| Record: 16-1. | Last week: 16th. The further we get away from that 30-point loss to San Diego State on Jan. 8 the stranger it looks. The Rams (the only other one-loss team in the country, with Auburn) have won five straight since the SDSU thrashing by an average of 15.6 points. A Monday makeup game at Wyoming is around the bend. That's a significant game for the Mountain West, which could become a four-bid league. |
| Record: 17-2 | Last week: 18th. Jared Bynum's last-second 3-pointer lifted PC to a 65-62 win at Xavier on Wednesday night. The win puts PC at 17-2 for the first time in 45 years. Providence leads the Big East with a 7-1 record, ahead of Villanova. Ed Cooley is now in the national coach of the year conversation. He also, as we laid out Wednesday, should be among the candidates under consideration for the Louisville vacancy. Providence was picked to finish seventh in the Big East this season and is rocketing toward a top-three seed instead. |
| Record: 15-4 | Last week: 11th. Sparty slips due to Colorado State and Providence's gaudy records. My rankings are biased toward winning streaks and recent performance more than entirety of résumé, so MSU still lingers after a 1-1 week that saw a 12-point win at Wisconsin followed up by a one-point loss at shorthanded Illinois, which didn't have Kofi Cockburn or Andre Curbelo. The Spartans are ranked, but a bit mysterious, just-not-great-enough to be undervalued come NCAA Tournament time. This is exactly what Izzo wants. |
|Record: 16-3 | Last week: 9th. The Norlander jinx is alive and well, folks. Get this: mere HOURS after the Wildcats were given 900-plus words in Wednesday's Court Report (which dared to ask: Is this the best Davidson team since Stephen Curry?), this squad went out and lost for the first time in 69 days. Not nice. But I'll still keep the best team in the A-10 ranked heading into a get-right game vs. La Salle on Saturday. |
| Record: 16-4. Last week: N/R. Davidson's loss means Boise State's run of 13 straight victories is now the second-longest winning streak in the country to Auburn's 16. The Broncos began the season 80th at KenPom; they're 41st now. A win at Fresno State on Friday would mean Leon Rice's team gets through December and January without a loss. I'll have more on the Mountain West in next week's Court Report. |
| Record: 17-2 | Last week: N/R. Welcome back to the festivities, Trojans. You get to 17-2 in a power conference, there's no justification for keeping you out. USC's losses are at Stanford and home to Oregon, but Andy Enfield's team has won three straight with two of those on the road. Enfield's name continues to linger as a candidate for the vacant Maryland job, but if I'm him, think I'd rather live in sunny SoCal at a place with minimal pressure and much more job security now than he might ever get somewhere else. |