College Basketball Power Rankings: Virginia moves up to 2nd, Saint Mary’s to 7th ahead of showdown with Gonzaga

By my count, there were nearly a dozen high-major coaches who entered this season and took a big year (maybe even to make the NCAAs) to avoid a layoff. Four of those coaches have turned their fortunes, although there is still work to be done over the next six weeks. Let’s check out these four guys.

(All references to planned seeding for NCAA tournaments are in line with Jerry Palm’s recent Bracketology outlook.)

Brad Brownell, Clemson: The defeat of the No. 20 Tigers at Boston College on Tuesday night was a big hit on the resume and handed Clemson a third heavy loss of the season. It also leveled the Tigers with Virginia in the ACC loss column. Still, Clemson is 18-5 in early February and still a good story here. Brownell’s season of decision was the Main topic of the court report two weeks ago. With 236 wins, he is the most successful coach in Clemson history; I think he should still be safe. With the BC loss, the Tigers now have the resume of a No. 10 seed.

Jeff Capel, Pitt: The program was a peat bog when Capel got the gig, but no one thought he would be 27 games under .500 in the ACC (29-56) midway through his fifth season. In 2022-23, Capel finally created something worth seeing. The 16-7 Panthers stride towards them at least the same with their winning total from the last two years combined (21). A bubble team for now, Pitt sits with a No. 11 next to his name earlier in the week. After the Panthers’ fifth win in their last six against North Carolina — and their third straight win at the Dean Dome — the arrow keeps pointing higher.

Chris Collins, Northwest: The only coach to have ever guided Northwestern to the tournament in over 80 years. But that doesn’t get Collins a lifetime deal. He had to have a huge year to keep going, and he has now – to the surprise of a lot of people in the Big Ten. The Wildcats lost Monday in Iowa, but if this team is truly tournament-worthy, they will see Thursday night’s home game against 11-10 Michigan as comfortably winnable and not a concern. NU was on the 8-line in Palm’s bracket on Monday. It needs to beat the Wolverines to return to this spot next Friday.

Kevin Keatts, State of NC: The Wolfpack fan base continues to grow restless and angered afterward one Year I didn’t do the tournament. Keatts had a borderline tournament team in 2020, but we never got that tournament. His only appearance was in 2018, his first season on the job. This season had to bring change and it has. After two runs under .500, Keatts has NC State as an 8 seed and is climbing so fast that State makes the cut in this week’s Hey Nineteen.

Come and see it.

Hey Nineteen Power Rankings

As a reminder, my rankings aren’t just about who I think is the “best.” This is a weekly round-up of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most *interesting* teams that combine team quality with winning quality, but are also not ashamed of timeliness and reward meaningful win streaks. All records shown are vs. DI competition. College Basketball Power Rankings: Virginia moves up to 2nd, Saint Mary’s to 7th ahead of showdown with Gonzaga

Chris Estrada

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