Wisconsin looked like a lost cause eight days into the season as the Badgers limped out to a 1-2 start marked by an 80-70 home loss to Tennessee and a 72-59 road loss to a Providence team in its first season under a new coach. But in less than a month, the Badgers have gone from bad to elite, surging from unranked and unconsidered in last week's power ranking to No. 10 this week.
Signs of improvement had been bubbling up, with a 65-41 win over Virginia on Nov. 20 serving as the most-prominent example. However, the Badgers made an unmistakable statement over the past week about their true potential. First, they beat high-flying in-state foe Marquette 75-64 on Saturday. Then, they opened Big Ten play with a 70-57 win at Michigan State.
Now, all of a sudden, 7-2 Wisconsin is entering Saturday's showcase game at Arizona looking like a Big Ten contender and a team destined for a return to the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers rank among the tallest and most-experienced teams in the country, and they are a hassle to handle on the glass. Ranking 15th in free-throw percentage doesn't hurt, either. Wisconsin drilled 38 of 42 attempts from the line in its wins over the Golden Eagles and Spartans.
As the Badgers enter the power rankings, others such as Kentucky and North Carolina have departed. We're not interested in your historical brand or what predictive metrics say. This is about what's been accomplished on the court in college basketball thus far. With that, here are the latest CBS Sports power rankings.
College basketball power rankings
|Purdue lost in overtime at Northwestern last Friday. So what? The Boilermakers beat Gonzaga, Tennessee and Marquette in the Maui Invitational and also own double-digit wins against Xavier and Iowa. Arizona may be unbeaten, but the Wildcats have played just two teams from power conferences. Last week: 1
|Arizona handed Duke coach Jon Scheyer the first home loss of his tenure on Nov. 10 and has remained unblemished since while adding a neutral-site win over Michigan State to the résumé. The Wildcats are about to be tested in a significant way, however, as their next four games are against Wisconsin, Purdue, Alabama and FAU. Last week: 2
|Kanas beat reigning national champion UConn 69-65 on Friday, adding to a resume that already included wins over Kentucky and Tennessee. The Jayhawks have done nothing to cast doubt on the preseason polls which projected them as the favorites to win the Big 12. Last week: 5
|UConn nearly won at Kansas on Friday, despite missing star freshman Stephon Castle and seeing the entire starting lineup other than Tristen Newton go cold. The Huskies returned to their machine-like dismantling of opponents with a win over North Carolina on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic. Last week: 3
|A Dec. 16 game with Texas A&M at the Toyota Center in Houston can't get here fast enough. The Cougars have proven themselves to be solid, but do they have the elite gear that will be required to challenge Kansas in the Big 12? It's hard to tell based on the lackluster schedule they've faced during a 9-0 start. Last week: 9
|Baylor's next two games are against Michigan State and Duke, which provide the Bears a potential launching pad to rise in next week's power rankings. This team's unbeaten start is highlighted by victories against Auburn, Florida and Seton Hall, which are solid but not spectacular wins. Thus, it will be telling to see how they handle the Spartans and Blue Devils, especially since those two may be feeling some early desperation. Last week: 8
|BYU isn't just winning; it is crushing opponents to a degree that suggests the Cougars may be more competitive than expected during their first season in the Big 12. They are No. 4 nationally in points per game at 91.9 and No. 7 in points allowed at just 59. That's a 32.9 point per game differential. Included are nine-point wins over San Diego State and NC State, in addition to a 28-point win over Arizona State. Last week: 7
|Colorado State trailed Denver 39-35 at halftime Wednesday night before outscoring the visitors 55-41 after the break. The Rams are ruthlessly efficient offensively behind the play of potential All-American point guard Isaiah Stevens, who is second nationally in assists per game at 8.1. Last week: 6
|Oklahoma, BYU and Cincinnati were all picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 during conference predictions in October. Those three are among six unbeaten teams in the league right now. The Big 12 isn't getting any easier. The Sooners can really make a statement in games against Arkansas and North Carolina before Christmas. Last week: 11
|On the heels of a missed NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin started 1-2 with double-digit losses to Tennessee and Providence. Those struggling Badgers have since been replaced by a group resembling the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. Among Wisconsin's six straight wins are double-digit victories over Virginia, Marquette and Michigan State. Last week: NR
|Marquette is one of only two teams with two losses in this week's power rankings, because those losses came away from home against Purdue and Wisconsin, while the victories include Illinois, UCLA, Kansas and Texas. The Golden Eagles eviscerated the Longhorns on Wednesday 86-65. Last week: 4
|Clemson improved to 8-0 by knocking off previously unbeaten South Carolina on Wednesday. The Tigers won at Alabama on Nov. 28 and are also off to a 1-0 start in ACC play with a win at Pitt. Things are going pretty well for this grizzled group of veterans. Last week: 12
|Gonzaga's good wins are against Syracuse, UCLA and USC, and its only loss is to Purdue. The Bulldogs will play Washington, UConn and San Diego State before the month ends and have more chances to definitively prove that they are still elite in the post-Drew Timme era. Last week: 18
|Creighton rebounded from the embarrassment of a 21-point loss to Colorado State with a 14-point win at Oklahoma State and a 29-point win at Nebraska. The Bluejays still play Alabama, Villanova and Marquette this month, which will give them a chance to surge in all sorts of rankings. Last week: NR
|Illinois got 33 points apiece from Marcus Domask and Terrence Shannon Jr. in an offensively stunning 98-89 win over FAU at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The Illini are riding high into another showcase game at Tennessee on Saturday. Last week: NR
|Virginia's 65-41 loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 20 seemed inexcusable at the time. But it makes more sense in retrospect as the Badgers have turned a corner. That's the only loss on a Cavaliers resume that includes wins over Florida, West Virginia, Texas A&M and Syracuse. Last week: 20
|It's officially time to start paying attention to Ole Miss, as the Rebels are off to an 8-0 start in Year 1 under Chris Beard. The schedule has been light, but recent home wins over NC State and Memphis suggest this team could be a real nuisance in the SEC. Last week: 19
|James Madison is still hanging its hat on a season-opening win at Michigan State since it hasn't played any marquee opponents since and won't for the rest of the season. But until the Dukes lose, you'll find them here. Unlike the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, we respect winning. Last week: 14
|Princeton ranks No. 12 nationally in 2-point shooting percentage at 59.4% and No. 5 in free-throw shooting percentage at 79.9%. The Tigers are also No. 48 nationally in 3-point makes per game at 9.2, which is especially impressive since they play at a slow pace. Last week: NR
|Nevada's best win came at Washington on Nov. 12 by a score of 83-76. While the competition has been limited, the Wolf Pack have defeated every opponent since then by double-digits. Last week: NR