College basketball power rankings: Auburn surges as Wisconsin drops out amid three-game losing streak

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UConn is now tied with Saint Mary’s for the nation’s longest winning streak after High Point’s loss to UNC-Asheville on Wednesday. The Huskies have won 11 straight and should have no trouble extending the streak to at least 13 with Georgetown and DePaul up next. Last week: 1
Purdue is now in command of the Big Ten after winning at Wisconsin on Sunday. Illinois is the only team within a game of the Boilermakers in the league standings, and Purdue already owns a head-to-head victory against the Illini. Last week: 2
Auburn picked up two Quad 1 wins over the past week to finally get on the board in that category. The wins came in blowout fashion at Ole Miss and against Alabama as Bruce Pearl’s club finally earned the validating victories it had been seeking for so long. Last week: 16
Houston bounced back nicely from a 13-point loss at Kansas by handling Oklahoma State 79-63 on Tuesday. But in allowing the Jayhawks to shoot 68.9% from the floor on Saturday, the Cougars shed the aura of defensive invincibility that had followed them all season and showed they are more vulnerable than previously thought. Last week: 3
Marquette’s winning streak is up to six as the Golden Eagles continue to scorch the nets offensively. They rank fourth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency over the duration of their winning streak, per barttorvik.com. Marquette is also playing the best defense of Shaka Smart’s three-year tenure. Last week: 5
Illinois is 4-1 since Terrence Shannon Jr. returned to the lineup; the only loss came in overtime at Northwestern. Purdue takes up most of the oxygen in the Big Ten, but the Illini aren’t far off the Boilermakers’ pace. The last time Illinois even reached the Sweet 16 was in 2005 when it made the national championship game. It’ll be a major disappointment if this squad bows out on the first weekend of the Big Dance. Last week: 8
Kansas made an aggressive statement by eviscerating Houston on Saturday. Then, it turned around and lost at Kansas State on Monday. Still, what the Jayhawks showed against the Cougars was a tantalizing glimpse of this team’s potential. To a certain extent, it’s understandable why KU struggled in a rivalry game on the road just over 48 hours later. Last week: 10
Tennessee scored 59 points in a home loss to South Carolina, then turned around and put up 103 in a win at Kentucky. That sequence says a lot about all three teams involved. The Volunteers are scary-good when Dalton Knecht’s supporting cast offers substantive contributions. Last week: 7
The old emotional letdown spot nabbed North Carolina on Tuesday as the Tar Heels rode the elation of a win over Duke into their second-ever home loss against Clemson. North Carolina is still well-positioned to win the ACC and receive a great NCAA Tournament seeding, but it has lost two of its last three. Last week: 6
Iowa State split road games against Baylor and Texas over the past week, which is all the Cyclones needed to do considering they are undefeated and seemingly invincible at home. If ISU keeps up the home heroics and continues to go .500 on the road, it will likely be in Big 12 title contention when March arrives. Last week: 9
If they were handing out National Coach of the Year today, it should go to Lamont Paris. South Carolina was picked to finish last in the SEC during Paris’ second season but is 20-3 (8-2 SEC) and has won six straight. The Gamecocks are nasty defensively and on their way to the program’s second NCAA Tournament appearance of the past two decades. Last week: 13
All nine of Baylor’s Big 12 games have been decided by single digits and three have gone to overtime. The Bears won three straight, lost three straight and have now won three straight again to reach 6-3 in conference play. The experience in close games should pay dividends in March. Last week: NR
Arizona has won three straight since a confounding loss at Oregon State on Jan. 25. The Wildcats are explosive and capable of beating anyone; however, they aren’t trustworthy and their lofty standing in advanced metrics is inflated by an up-tempo style of play and the wide margins of victory it creates. Last week: NR
Indiana State scored revenge Saturday by taking down fellow Missouri Valley Conference heavyweight Drake to even the season series after the Sycamores lost on the road against the Bulldogs on Jan. 10. ISU’s only other losses were also in true road environments against Alabama and Michigan State. This team is legit. Last week: 18
Dayton has recovered well from its Jan. 27 loss at Richmond by rattling off three straight wins, including a 94-79 road win on Tuesday against a St. Joseph’s team that beat Villanova and Princeton. DaRon Homes II is averaging 22.2 points on 55.2% shooting in league play and should be an All-American. Last week: NR
Saint Mary’s is tied with UConn for the nation’s longest winning streak at 11 as the Gaels have found their stride since a disastrous 3-5 start. Among the recent triumphs is a 64-62 road win over Gonzaga that put Saint Mary’s squarely in the driver’s seat of the WCC. Last week: NR
Duke is just 5-5 across Quads 1 and 2 after its loss at North Carolina on Saturday. Its Dec. 20 win over Baylor is its only victory against a ranked team. The Blue Devils are good, but they shouldn’t be No. 9 in the AP poll like they are this week. Last week: 12
Auburn smacked Alabama on Wednesday to even the season series, but the Crimson Tide remain squarely in the SEC title hunt. Their only league losses have come on the road against fellow contenders Tennessee and Auburn. Last week: 15
The Mountain West has four teams between 18 and 30 in the NET and six in the top 50. New Mexico leads the pack, even after taking a rare home loss to Boise State last Wednesday. The Lobos rebounded with a road win over Wyoming on Tuesday. Last week: NR

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