There was a lot going on in week four of the season, as six of the teams in the Elam 15 version 4.0 lost at some point: Arizona, Creighton, Baylor, Indiana, Gonzaga, Illinois. Only Arizona and Indiana remain in the rankings.
For this week’s Elam 15 though, I wanted to touch on two teams that were interchangeably No. 1 and No. 2 in many preseason rankings. They were my No. 1 and No. 2 to start the season, as well as the AP poll. North Carolina and Gonzaga are two of the biggest stories in the sport through four weeks because of the rapid decline of their rankings.
To start, North Carolina will not be ranked in the updated AP poll, going from No. 1 to NR in just the first month of the season. The Tar Heels are on a four-game losing streak, most recently dropping one at Virginia Tech on Sunday. Armando Bacot was out for that game with right shoulder problems, and Hokie big Justyn Mutts went for 27 points and 11 rebounds. That likely doesn’t happen if Bacot is in the game, but regardless Carolina doesn’t get the win.
Maybe it isn’t time yet for Tar Heels fans to press the panic button. In fact, they didn’t become one of the best teams in the country last season until February. However, after this fast if a drop off, concern is there and it is well deserved.
Gonzaga, while not having as bad of a start as UNC, isn’t having the start they would like to have. The Zags are now 5-3 after losing to Baylor on Friday night, 64-63. The Bears went on an 8-0 run, led by two 3-pointers from Adam Flagler, to steal the win. Drew Timme was off on the night, scoring only nine points. It was his first single-digit scoring game this season.
Heading into the season, Gonzaga was thought of as one of the most talented teams in the country. Maybe that is still true, and it likely is, but what also might be true is they are not one of the best teams. Their only losses are to Baylor, as well as double-digit losses to Texas and Purdue, AKA the teams I have No. 1 and No. 3. While the Zags will likely go through the WCC without any noticeable outcome, this is the worst start to a Gonzaga season in a long time. It will hurt their resume come March, and they will likely not receive a No. 1-seed for the first time since 2017-18.
The Zags and Tar Heels are now a combined 10-7 on the season, which is insane coming from the preseason No. 1 and No. 2. However it is still a long season, and March is far away. As for week five, Texas is still my No. 1 team, Purdue rises to No. 3, and UConn comes into the top five after Arizona’s loss to Utah.
Here is the Elam 15 version 5.0.
1. Texas (6-0) | Previous: 1
Texas won a top 10 matchup against Creighton at home on Thursday. Marcus Carr shined with 19 points. Texas remains No. 1, with a matchup against Illinois facing then on Tuesday.
2. Houston (8-0) | Previous: 2
The Cougars almost beat Norfolk State by 50 on Tuesday, and then got a good win against a solid Saint Mary’s team on Saturday. Marcus Sasser averaged 19.0 points through those two games, and is averaging 17.5 points per game on the season.
3. Purdue (8-0) | Previous: 5
Zach Edey is the front runner for National Player of the Year. Edey logged 31 points and 22 rebounds in a 19-point beat down of Minnesota on Sunday. They also beat Florida State by 10 on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
4. Virginia (7-0) | Previous: 3
Virginia got a gritty two-point win against Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Reese Beekman shined with 18 points. They opened up ACC play against FSU on Saturday. Kihei Clark averaged 17.0 points through the two games.
5. UConn (9-0) | Previous: 7
The Huskies got a solid 10-point victory over Oklahoma State. Jordan Hawkins had a fantastic game, scoring 26 points and going 5/9 from 3-point range. UConn improves to 9-0 on the season, and Adama Sanogo is an early All-American candidate.
6. Arkansas (7-1) | Previous: 8
Ever since going 2-1 at the Maui Invitational, it’s been quiet for the Hogs with everyone else around them playing high-profile games. After two double-digit victories though against Trou and San Jose State, Arkansas improves to 7-1. Nick Smith Jr. has debuted as well scoring 14 points against SJSU.
7. Kansas (8-1) | Previous: 11
The Jayhawks guy a great 32-point win over Texas Southern, followed by a dominant 26-point win over Seton Hall in the Big East-Big 12 Battle. Jalen Wilson is still one of the best players in the country.
8. Alabama (7-1) | Previous: 12
The Tide beat South Dakota St by 13 to improve to 7-1 with a lone loss to UConn. Brandon Miller is still one of the best freshmen in the country, averaging 19.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Alabama will face Houston on Saturday.
9. Maryland (8-0) | Previous: NR
The highest riser in the Elam 15 is the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps went 2-0 on the week, beating Louisville by 25, and a good Illinois squad by five. Kevin Willard has something special brewing in his first season.
10. Tennessee (7-1) | Previous: 15
Tennessee has beaten their last two opponents by a combined 90 points, which is just insane. The Vols will face Eastern Kentucky next before a two-game slate of Maryland and Arizona.
11. Duke (8-2) | Previous: NR
Duke got a near double-digit win over Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They then got their second win of the week opening ACC play against Boston College. Kyle Filipowski is still the best freshmen on the team. He averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in those two games.
12. Arizona (7-1) | Previous: 4
Arizona lost a bad one against Utah, but then almost exactly flipped the scoreboard in their win over Cal. They lost to Utah 81-66, and then beat Cal 81-68. Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo combined for 42 points and 19 rebounds against Cal.
13. Auburn (8-0) | Previous: NR
Auburn is a perfect 8-0 on the season and went 1-0 on the week, pounding Colgate 93-66. KD Johnson had 16 points off the bench for the Tigers. The Tigers will face another pride of Tigers when they face Memphis on Saturday.
14. Indiana (7-1) | Previous: 10
After beating North Carolina at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Indiana takes a fall due to losing at Rutgers by 15 points. The Hoosiers are still a good team, and will face Nebraska on Wednesday, after which they will play Arizona and Kansas.
15. Kentucky (6-2) | Previous: NR
The Wildcats are back in after getting their first signature win of the season over Michigan on Sunday in London. Cason Wallace had 14 points, shooting 4/4 from deep. Jacob Toppin had 14 as well, and Oscar Tshiebwe had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
“From Our Haus to Yours!”