NCAA basketball power rankings: Michigan makes a move

Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. drives to the basket during the Wolverines Big Ten victory over Michigan State.

Mike Carter/Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Who is making noise in college basketball this week? How about Michigan? The Wolverines were a Final Four team last season, and they are 7-0 in the Big Ten heading into Thursday’s game against Purdue. Then there is Duke, coming off an impressive victory at Pittsburgh and looking like a much more balanced team these days. Virginia is making noise in the Atlantic Coast Conference and arrives at No. 25. And Florida finds itself in the No. 3 spot, right behind Arizona and Syracuse.

Here are this week’s rankings:

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, after losing to Arizona: "They grind on you and grind on you and eventually the defense gets tired of being on the field at the end of the game. There’s a lot to be said for the way they play." That must be sweet music to Sean Miller’s ears.

Syracuse ran into a tough challenge on the road at Miami, but Jim Boeheim’s team doesn’t panic. The Orange hit free throws down the stretch to get the win and stay undefeated. Duke visits the Carrier Dome Saturday.

Billy Donovan has done it before and he’s doing it again. The Gators have streaked to the top of the SEC standings with a 6-0 record. As long as Florida stays healthy, the Gators are a threat to win the national championship.

The way the Jayhawks are playing in the Big 12, they have positioned themselves for another No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Andrew Wiggins looked aggressive — and comfortable — scoring 27 points in a rout of TCU.

Coach Gregg Marshall said his team committed “an endless string of gaffes” in a 57-45 win over Loyola of Chicago. But Cleanthony Early and the Shockers did enough to remain undefeated. Can the Shockers run the table?

Xavier Thames is a guy you want on your team when the game is on the line. Thames was unstoppable in overtime against Utah State and finished with 31 points as the Aztecs wrapped up their 17th straight victory.

The Wolverines visited rival Michigan State at a time when the Spartans weren’t at full strength because of injuries. Even so, Michigan deserves significant promotion in the rankings for three consecutive wins over ranked teams.

The Spartans rank No. 1 in toughness. After the crushing loss at home to Michigan, Tom Izzo’s squad bounced back with a clutch overtime win at Iowa. When Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson return, the Spartans will move up again.

Jay Wright’s team has suffered through two crushing losses — first to Syracuse and then Creighton. Both times the Wildcats bounced back with impressive road victories, most recently beating Marquette and Georgetown.

The new American Athletic Conference has a marquee matchup lined up for Thursday night. Louisville is 6-1 in league play and welcomes 8-0 Cincinnati to the KFC Yum! Center. Expect things to get physical and emotional.

The Blue Devils have turned things around and by that we mean they are playing better in all aspects of the game. The 80-65 win at Pittsburgh was a big statement. Next up is the heavily anticipated visit to Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.

The Bearcats are concerned about the status of Justin Jackson, who played just six minutes against Temple after an injury. Sean Kilpatrick was magnificent with 29 points and eight rebounds as Cincinnati held on to beat Temple, 80-76

The Hawkeyes drop a bit after losing two of the last three. The losses did come to Michigan and Michigan State, including an overtime setback to the Spartans. Iowa remains a very talented team.

Doug McDermott might have wrapped up the national player of the year award with his season-high 39-point performance against St. John’s Tuesday. The All-American scored in every way and from every place in a great individual performance.

There are some bad vibes coming from the Cowboys right now. They had to hold on for a win over West Virginia, and then Oklahoma rolled over the Cowboys. On top of that, star Marcus Smart hasn’t been a real good teammate lately.

After a three-game losing streak, the Badgers vowed to get back to basics. They said they did that in a 72-58 victory over Purdue. Now Wisconsin needs to sustain that momentum.

The Billikens play great defense, and that is going to carry them a long way in the Atlantic 10 Conference. They also know how to share the ball, averaging almost 15 assists a game.

Ryan Spangler came to the Sooners from Blanchard, Okla., and the sophomore forward has become a fan favorite. He had 15 points and 17 rebounds against Oklahoma State, raising his averages to 11.3 points and 10.1 rebounds.

The upcoming stretch may define the season for coach Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones. Iowa State is 3-3 in Big 12 play and now faces a three-game stretch at Kansas, home to Oklahoma and at Oklahoma State.

The Tigers have won three straight since losing to UConn at home. To stay in the race in the American Athletic Conference, Memphis could use a win at SMU on Saturday. First, the Tigers have to get past UCF on Wednesday night.

John Calipari’s team seemed to be building momentum with victories at Rupp Arena over Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia. But the Wildcats still struggle on the road, falling 87-82 at LSU Tuesday. Next up: at Missouri.

The Minutemen lost at Richmond, 58-55, but bounced back to beat Fordham, 90-52, at home. The problem for UMass is the next two games are on the road – at St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s.

Welcome to the seventh team from the Big 12 to be ranked this season. Rick Barnes is garnering support for coach of the year honors. The Longhorns have a chance to make big noise against Kansas Saturday in Austin.

It’s rare when Jamie Dixon’s team gets handled easily at home, but the Panthers couldn’t stop Jabari Parker, and Duke silenced Lamar Patterson. Duke walked away with an 80-65 victory. Pitt remains in the hunt in the ACC standings, however.

The Cavaliers have moved into second place in the ACC behind Syracuse with a 7-1 record. Virginia has won four in a row, including Tuesday’s 68-53 triumph at Notre Dame. That sets the stage for Sunday’s big game at Pittsburgh.