Kansas entered the season at No. 1 and has returned to the top of the rankings after getting jumped by Duke and Gonzaga for a short stretch. It hasn't been smooth sailing for the Jayhawks, though. Bill Self's team has needed overtime to beat Tennessee and Stanford and had to come back in the second half to knock off Marquette and New Mexico State.
It happened again on Saturday, as Kansas allowed Villanova to stay in the game during a sloppy first half and needed late free throws to hold off the Wildcats in the final minute.
How long can the Jayhawks play with fire and remain No. 1?
Udoka Azubuike's return should help, assuming it happens soon. He gives Kansas a boost at both ends of the floor, as the 7-foot big man brings a dimension not many teams in the country possess. A healthy Azubuike should also help another potential issue: The Jayhawks need consistent options to step up besides Dedric Lawson and Lagerald Vick.
Devon Dotson has been very solid so far, but Self will need a productive Quentin Grimes at some point this season. An elite recruit coming out of high school, Grimes had 21 points in the season opener against Michigan State and 10 assists against Vermont the next week -- but he has struggled since. Grimes has scored in double-figures just once in the past seven games and finished with one point on Saturday.
On the other hand, it's a good sign that Kansas is working things out -- and still remains unbeaten and No. 1.
1. Kansas Jayhawks (9-0)
Previous ranking: 1
This week: Beat Villanova 74-71 on Saturday
The inside-outside duo of Lagerald Vick and Dedric Lawson carried the Jayhawks on Saturday against Villanova, totaling 57 points and 19 rebounds -- while every other player on Kansas combined for four field goals. One unheralded performance, however, came from Marcus Garrett, who was terrific on the defensive end and has been key for the Jayhawks all season.
2. Duke Blue Devils (9-1)
Previous ranking: 3
This week: None
The Blue Devils get to put their feet up this week and won't play again until Dec. 18. RJ Barrett is playing at a Player of the Year level so far this season, hitting the 30-point mark twice already and scoring fewer than 20 points just once. His usage is among the national leaders, and he has been efficient through one month.
3. Michigan Wolverines (11-0)
Previous ranking: 4
This week: Beat Western Michigan 70-62 on Saturday
The Wolverines really struggled offensively in the first half against Western Michigan, making just one 3-pointer and shooting 5-for-13 from the free throw line in the opening 20 minutes. Charles Matthews single-handedly kept them in the game. They woke up in the second half, though, taking care of the ball and finally hitting some perimeter jumpers, but they are still missing some of that killer instinct we saw in November.
4. Tennessee Volunteers (8-1)
Previous ranking: 5
This week: Beat Memphis 102-92 on Saturday.
Memphis is going to be a factor in the coming years under Penny Hardaway, but Tennessee was too strong and experienced on Saturday. The Volunteers hit the 100-point mark for just the second time in the past eight seasons, per ESPN Stats and Info, with Admiral Schofield continuing his hot streak with 29 points.
5. Nevada Wolf Pack (11-0)
Previous ranking: 6
This week: Beat South Dakota State 72-68 on Saturday
The Wolf Pack once again had a slow first half, heading into halftime with a deficit for the third time in four games. And once again, it didn't end up mattering. South Dakota State's star duo of Mike Daum and David Jenkins, who combine to average 48.7 points, totaled just 10 points on Saturday. Yet Nevada still needed a second-half surge to come out the win. The upcoming four-game stretch is sneaky: home vs. Akron, at Utah, home vs. Utah State and then at The Pit against New Mexico.
6. Virginia Cavaliers (9-0)
Previous ranking: 7
This week: None
The Cavaliers are still unbeaten, but four of their past five wins have been by eight points or fewer. It's not the worst thing in the world, as Tony Bennett's team is one of the toughest to beat late in games. One thing to watch, though: Freshman guard Kihei Clark will have surgery this week to repair a broken bone in his wrist.
7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (9-2)
Previous ranking: 4
This week: Lost to North Carolina 103-90 on Saturday
That's two losses in a row for the Bulldogs, whose defense has fallen off a cliff in the past few weeks. They had given up 1.1 points per possession or more in four of their previous five games -- and then allowed 100-plus points on Saturday for the first time since 2007. Gonzaga should get right with six straight home games.
8. Auburn Tigers (9-1)
Previous ranking: 7
This week: Beat UAB 75-71 (OT) on Saturday
Auburn overcame a subpar night from Bryce Brown -- and pretty much everyone else offensively -- with a 31-point effort from Jared Harper to beat UAB in overtime. In Harper's past seven games, he has scored at least 20 points four times, bizarrely sandwiched around a three-game stretch in which he totaled 19 points.
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-0)
Previous ranking: 9
This week: Beat Northwestern State 79-44 on Wednesday, Beat Abilene Christian 82-48 on Saturday
The easy games are out of the way -- now Texas Tech can look ahead to its showdown with Duke at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. The Red Raiders are off to a 10-0 start for the second time in program history, but this week will give us a much better idea of how good Chris Beard's group is this season.
10. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-2)
Previous ranking: 13
This week: Beat Gonzaga 103-90 on Saturday
Saturday was a statement win for the Tar Heels, as they dominated Gonzaga from very early and never looked back. The emergence of Cameron Johnson has been a huge boost for Carolina, and it also received bench production from Seventh Woods (14 points), especially down the stretch of the first half. A neutral-court showdown against Kentucky in Chicago is up next for the Tar Heels.
11. Florida State Seminoles (8-1)
Previous ranking: 10
This week: None
Another solid win away from home for the Seminoles, as they knocked off UConn in New Jersey. They've now defeated Florida, LSU, Purdue and UConn -- and Phil Cofer seems close to returning from the right foot injury that has kept him out the entire season.
12. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-1)
Previous ranking: 11
This week: Beat Washington 73-61 on Saturday
While Washington has struggled at times this season, Virginia Tech's performance on Saturday was still impressive. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had another big game, but the Hokies are also finally getting some production outside of their big four. Ty Outlaw has now scored at least eight points in six straight games after totaling 16 points in the first four games of the season
13. Michigan State Spartans (8-2)
Previous ranking: 12
This week: vs. Green Bay (5 p.m. ET Sunday, Big Ten Network)
The Spartans are beginning to win in different ways. They put on a clinic offensively against Iowa on Monday, then turned around on Saturday against Florida and grinded out a four-point win on the road. Xavier Tillman has really blossomed over the past two weeks, averaging 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in his past four games.
14. Wisconsin Badgers (8-1)
Previous ranking: 14
This week: Beat Savannah State 101-60 on Thursday
Ethan Happ went for 34 points, 11 rebounds and four assists against Marquette on Saturday, but the Badgers still lost in the in-state rivalry game. After eight games in 17 days, though, things cool down for Wisconsin. They have only two games in the next three weeks, home dates with Savannah State and Grambling State.
15. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1)
Previous ranking: Unranked
This week: Beat Bucknell 73-71 on Saturday.
It wasn't easy for the Buckeyes on Saturday, but they held off Bucknell and remained in the rankings. Kaleb Wesson has been highly productive this season on a per-minute basis and carried Ohio State at times, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Wesson's per-40 numbers would be 24.9 points and 10.8 boards. He just needs to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble.
16. Buffalo Bulls (10-0)
Previous ranking: 15
This week: Beat Southern Illinois 73-65 on Saturday
Saturday's win over Southern Illinois kept Buffalo unbeaten at 10-0, but we will know a lot more about the Bulls one week from now. It starts on Tuesday at Syracuse, and while winning at the Carrier Dome is no easy feat, the Orange were just dropped at home by Old Dominion. Three days later, on Friday, Nate Oats' group heads to Marquette for another chance at a marquee win.
Dropped out: Arizona State (No. 16)