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NBC Sports Top 25: What do we do with the Michigan schools this week?

Cassius Winston

Michigan State’s Cassius Winston (5) reacts after scoring a 3-point shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)


The big question for ranking teams this week centered around the state of Michigan.

The Wolverines were pounded on the road by a 17-5 Iowa team in a game where Michigan found their entire frontcourt in foul trouble as Iowa’s bigs pounded them in the paint. Michigan State, on the other hand, lost at home to an Indiana team that had not only lost their last seven games, but who lost Juwan Morgan with seven minutes left in the first half to an apparent shoulder injury.

And personally, I did not drop either team all that much. I bumped Kentucky -- who has turned into one of the nation’s very best defensive teams and is riding the horsepower that comes with a frontline of P.J. Washington and Reid Travis to death -- up two spots to No. 5, jumping both Michigan teams, who I still have in front of North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Marquette.

The logic, to me, is simple.

Michigan is the obvious one. They lost on the road to a team that has beaten everyone expect Michigan State and Wisconsin at home. That includes Iowa State, who they beat by 14 points. That happened on a night where Michigan got a tough whistle and had all of their bigs on the bench as Ryan Kreiner and Luka Garza just absolutely worked them over. Things like that happen in league play, to every team. There’s a reason it’s so rare to go undefeated through a power conference season.

Michigan State is trickier, since they lost to an Indiana team that has fallen off a cliff faster this month. But I think everyone will agree that the Hoosiers were not as bad as their record, and after watching them play a number of times and rewatching the tape of that game, I’m convinced that result had as much to do with Indiana doing two things they haven’t done in 2019: They played hard and actually played defense for a full 40 minutes, and they made their threes down the stretch as Michigan State was trying to create some separation. This is certainly not a good loss, not with the way that the Spartans were worked over by Purdue last Sunday, but I think it says more about Indiana and what they should be than anything else.

Either way, I’m not ready to jump a Virginia Tech team that may or may not be without Justin Robinson for a while, a North Carolina team that still won’t play their best five for extended periods or a Marquette team that only has one ball-handler over either of the Michigan teams just yet.

Here is the full top 25:

1. Duke (19-2, Last Week: 1)
2. Tennessee (20-1, 2)
3. Gonzaga (21-2, 3)
4. Virginia (20-1, 4)
5. Kentucky (18-3, 7)
6. Michigan (20-2, 5)
7. Michigan State (18-4, 6)
8. North Carolina (17-4, 8)
9. Virginia Tech (18-3, 9)
10. Marquette (19-3, 10)
11. Villanova (18-4, 13)
12. Kansas (17-5, 11)
13. Nevada (21-1, 12)
14. Iowa State (17-5, 14)
15. Purdue (16-6, 15)
16. Houston (21-1, 19)
17. Texas Tech (17-5, 17)
18. Wisconsin (16-6, 23)
19. Mississippi State (16-5, 18)
20. LSU (17-4, 20)
21. Louisville (16-6, 21)
22. Baylor (15-6, NR)
23. Buffalo (19-3, 22)
24. Auburn (15-6, 25)
25. Iowa (17-5, NR)

Dropped Out: 16. N.C. State, 24. Ole Miss
New Additions: 22. Baylor, 25. Iowa