Jay Wright spent the preseason imploring anyone who would listen that they would need patience with this season's Villanova team. It wasn't filled with experienced upperclassmen like years past, with guys who had been groomed to take on starring roles. The Wildcats could get off to a slow start.
Well, Wright was right.
Villanova was drilled by Michigan on Wednesday night at home, 73-46, and the Wildcats were never in the game. They scored 17 points in the first half and were down 27 at the break -- their biggest halftime deficit since 2003. One player made more than two shots from the field. They shot 31.8 percent from the field and 20.0 percent from 3-point range. It was Wright's second-biggest loss ever at Villanova.
It was an absolute nightmare, but given Villanova's inexperience, maybe we should have tempered our expectations heading into the season.
So how far does Villanova drop? It's clear the Wildcats are simply not one of the 16 best teams in the country right now -- and so they drop a little further than Kentucky and Michigan State did after their losses. Moreover, we expect Duke and Kansas, respectively, to be better than Michigan this season.
That said, we underestimated the Wolverines heading into the season. On paper, Michigan seemingly wasn't loaded with talent -- but that's never really mattered for John Beilein. Charles Matthews is taking the next step as a go-to guy, and freshman Ignas Brazdeikis is continuing the consistent production that made him a sought-after recruit. Throw in a veteran point guard in Zavier Simpson and several quality role players, and Beilein has another strong group on his hands.
1. Duke Blue Devils (3-0)
Previous ranking: 1
This week: Beat Eastern Michigan 84-46 on Wednesday
2. Kansas Jayhawks (2-0)
Previous ranking: 2
This week: Beat Vermont 84-68 on Monday; vs. Louisiana (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
After a lackluster start to the season, Lagerald Vick came through in a big way against Vermont with eight 3-pointers and 32 points. He'll need to provide consistent outside shooting for the Jayhawks.
3. Gonzaga Bulldogs (2-0)
Previous ranking: 3
This week: vs. Texas A&M (Thursday, 11:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
4. Nevada Wolf Pack (2-0)
Previous ranking: 4
This week: vs. Little Rock (Friday, 11 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Because Nevada plays with such a big lineup, it will be worth monitoring the Wolf Pack's perimeter shooting. They made just 8 of 28 3-pointers against BYU, but buried 15 against Pacific on Friday.
5. Virginia Cavaliers (2-0)
Previous ranking: 5
This week: vs. Coppin State (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Ty Jerome has been terrific through two games for Virginia, scoring 20 points in each one while also totaling 11 assists.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0)
Previous ranking: 6
This week: Beat Stanford 90-72 on Monday; vs. Tennessee Tech (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Roy Williams has used shorter rotations in the past, but he's been going at least 10 deep to open the season. It might not last, but so far, he's getting great bench production from a versatile group of players -- led by top-five pick Nassir Little.
7. Auburn Tigers (3-0)
Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat Mississippi College 103-52 on Wednesday
In its final Maui Invitational tuneup, Auburn struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter for the first time this season -- but dominated anyway. Up next is Xavier in Maui, and then potentially games against Duke and Gonzaga.
8. Tennessee Volunteers (3-0)
Previous ranking: 8
This week: Beat Georgia Tech 66-53 on Tuesday
The Volunteers still don't have stud sixth man Lamonte Turner healthy, but it hasn't mattered thus far. Grant Williams has been dominant to start the season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
9. Oregon Ducks (2-0)
Previous ranking: 11
This week: vs. Iowa (Thursday, 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2); vs. Connecticut or Syracuse (Friday)
As expected, Bol Bol has been dominant his first week in college. After going for 12 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks on Nov. 6, he finished with 23 points, 12 boards and 4 blocks Friday.
10. Kentucky Wildcats (2-1)
Previous ranking: 10
This week: Beat North Dakota 96-58; vs. VMI (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
We had been waiting for a breakout game from PJ Washington, who seemed poised for stardom in his sophomore season. After totaling 11 points and eight boards in his first two games, Washington went for 25 points and seven rebounds Wednesday.
11. Syracuse Orange (2-0)
Previous ranking: 12
This week: vs. Connecticut (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2); vs. Oregon or Iowa (Friday)
Jim Boeheim hyped up Elijah Hughes in the preseason, and he dropped 21 points Saturday. A classic old-school Big East battle at Madison Square Garden comes up this week.
12. Michigan Wolverines (3-0)
Previous ranking: Unranked
This week: Beat Villanova 73-46; vs. George Washington (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN3); South Carolina or Providence (Sunday)
Seems like a big jump, since we didn't have Michigan in our preseason top 25. But the Wolverines are simply an elite defensive team (Villanova's 46 points were the most they've allowed all season), and they've got underrated options offensively.
13. Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0)
Previous ranking: 13
This week: Ball State (Thursday, 11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2); Charleston Classic (Friday); Charleston Classic (Sunday)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker's breakout season got underway Friday, as the sophomore went for 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. He was a five-star prospect coming out of high school.
14. Kansas State Wildcats (2-0)
Previous ranking: 14
This week: Beat Denver 64-56 on Monday; vs. Eastern Kentucky (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET); vs. Northern Iowa or Penn (Saturday)
It hasn't been a dominant start for Bruce Weber's Wildcats, but Dean Wade is showing a little more on the glass, grabbing 16 boards against Denver. Given that Kansas State goes small for long stretches, that's key.
15. Michigan State Spartans (2-1)
Previous ranking: 15
This week: Beat Louisiana-Monroe 80-59 on Wednesday; vs. Tennessee Tech (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, BTN)
The Spartans continue to round back into form after their opening-night loss, but we'll have to keep an eye on Nick Ward. He left Wednesday's game with an apparent injury, but a Michigan State spokesperson told reporters it was "nothing serious."
16. Florida State Seminoles (2-0)
Previous ranking: 16
This week: No games
PJ Savoy has always been productive in limited minutes, but now that he's taken on a starting role, he's been a consistent scorer. Savoy went 8-for-14 from 3-point range and scored 34 points in two games last week.
Dropped out: Villanova (No. 9)