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Duke, Gonzaga, Auburn set for Maui Invitational

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VT hits first-half buzzer-beaters on back-to-back games (1:04)

Virginia Tech's Justin Robinson and Ahmed Hill beat the buzzer before the half on back-to-back days almost from the same spot on the floor. (1:04)

Get used to Virginia Tech being in the top 10.

Buzz Williams and the Hokies notched an impressive quality win on Sunday night, coming back to beat Purdue and win the Charleston Classic. That victory was clearly the headliner of the week for them, but don't overlook Tech's win over Northeastern on Friday by 28 points. Remember, Northeastern is a CAA favorite and already beat Harvard and Alabama.

But Virginia Tech slotted up one spot in the power rankings to No. 10 and the Hokies aren't likely leaving the top 10 anytime soon. They'll travel to Penn State for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge next week and will also face Washington in Atlantic City in mid-December, but the Hokies will be expected to win both those games. As a result, it wouldn't be surprising to see Virginia Tech sitting at 15-0 heading into a mid-January stretch where they'll face Virginia, North Carolina, Syracuse, Miami and NC State in a six-game span.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been one of the early breakout stars of the 2018-19 season. The former five-star recruit has scored at least 20 points in each of the Hokies' four games this season, and went for 25 points against Purdue on Sunday. Justin Robinson continues to perform like one of the most underrated point guards in the country, and Kerry Blackshear and Ahmed Hill have been consistent.

The Hokies are also doing this without Chris Clarke and Landers Nolley. Clarke, the team's glue guy and one of the best sixth men in the country last season, was suspended indefinitely before the season started, while Nolley, a former ESPN 100 recruit, has been sidelined due to a clearance issue. It's unclear when either player will be available.

It appears that Virginia Tech is doing just fine while waiting, though -- and should remain that way for a while.

1. Duke Blue Devils (3-0)
Previous ranking: 1
This week: at Maui Invitational -- vs. San Diego State (Monday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2)

There might not be a tougher three-day nonconference gantlet than what Duke will face this week. Jalen McDaniels and San Diego State, followed by potential matchups against Auburn and Gonzaga. Duke will be the favorite in Maui, though.

2. Kansas Jayhawks (3-0)
Previous ranking: 2
This week: at NIT Season Tip-Off -- vs. Marquette (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN2)

Wednesday should bring plenty of offensive fireworks. Kansas has scored between 84 and 92 points in every game, while Marquette has struggled defensively under Steve Wojciechowski (although the Golden Eagles are better this season). Will Lagerald Vick continue his hot shooting?

3. Gonzaga Bulldogs (3-0)
Previous ranking: 3
This week: at Maui Invitational -- vs. Illinois (Monday, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Everyone is hoping to a potential title game matchup between Duke and Gonzaga. Can the Bulldogs hang with the Blue Devils' freakishly athletic and talented freshmen? Will Rui Hachimura match up with Zion Williamson? It would be the highlight of Feast Week.

4. Nevada Wolf Pack (3-0)
Previous ranking: 4
This week: vs. Cal Baptist (Monday, 10 p.m.); at Las Vegas Holiday Invitational -- vs. Tulsa (Thursday, 4 p.m., FS1)

Until Nevada goes against a similarly-talented team who can go small, we might not really get a gauge on whether the Wolf Pack can adjust with their jumbo lineup. For now though, 6-foot-7 Cody Martin playing the point and averaging 10 assists a game is fun to watch.

5. Virginia Cavaliers (3-0)
Previous ranking: 5
This week: at Battle 4 Atlantis -- vs. Middle Tennessee (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.)

The Battle 4 Atlantis is Virginia's to lose this year, and the Cavaliers haven't been tested at all yet. De'Andre Hunter has been a difference-maker again, and if he's becoming a threat from 3-point range (4-for-4 vs. Coppin State), look out.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels (4-0)
Previous ranking: 6
This week: vs. St. Francis, Pa. (Monday, 8 p.m., ACCNE) -- at Las Vegas Invitational vs. Texas (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FS1)

Heading into the season, if asked to pick a leading scorer for the Tar Heels, Cameron Johnson likely wouldn't have been the first or second choice. But he's been terrific through four games, averaging 16.3 points -- and shooting 64.7 percent from 3.

7. Auburn Tigers (3-0)
Previous ranking: 7
This week: at Maui Invitational -- vs. Xavier (Monday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2),

Heading into Maui, all attention is on Duke and its freshmen -- and then Gonzaga right behind them. But Auburn is sitting there also hitting on all cylinders and could be a sleeper. Would the Tigers be able to run and keep up with Duke in the semifinal?

8. Tennessee Volunteers (3-0)
Previous ranking: 8
This week: at NIT Season Tip-Off -- vs. Louisville (Wednesday, 5 p.m., ESPN2)

Tennessee can make a statement in New York this week, as the Volunteers will be favored against Louisville and then could get a chance against Kansas (if the Jayhawks beat Marquette). So far, they have looked the part of SEC title contender once again.

9. Michigan Wolverines (5-0)
Previous ranking: 10
This week: vs. Chattanooga (Friday, 4 p.m., BTN)

After yet another lockdown defensive performance from Michigan, the Wolverines now have the No. 1 defense in the country at KenPom.com. Only one team has scored more than 47 points and none has cracked the 40 percent mark from the field.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0)
Previous ranking: 11
This week: vs. St. Francis PA (Saturday, 1 p.m., SECN)

The Hokies erased a first-half deficit to knock off Purdue and win the Charleston Classic. Buzz Williams' group now has plenty of momentum -- and might be favored in every single game until they head to Virginia on January 15 to face the Cavaliers.

11. Kentucky Wildcats (3-1)
Previous ranking: 9
This week: vs. Winthrop (Wednesday, 1 p.m., SECN), vs. Tennessee State (Friday, 7 p.m., SECN)

VMI has now played two high-major programs this season: Pitt and Kentucky. They scored 55 points against Pitt -- and 82 against Kentucky. The Wildcats allowed VMI to make 19 3-pointers and now rank near the bottom of Division-I in 3-point percentage defense.

12. Kansas State Wildcats (4-0)
Previous ranking: 12
This week: vs. Missouri (Monday, 7:30 p.m.); vs. Lehigh (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN3)

Kansas State knocked off Eastern Kentucky and Penn, and now face Missouri in the title game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. Barry Brown needs to break out of his shooting slump; he's 5-for-18 in his last two games.

13. Michigan State Spartans (3-1)
Previous ranking: 13
This week: at Las Vegas Invitational -- vs. UCLA (Thursday, 10 p.m., FS1)

The Spartans are set to begin an interesting stretch with several potential pitfalls: vs. UCLA, then either North Carolina or Texas, then road trips to Louisville and Rutgers, followed up by games against Iowa and Florida. We'll know a lot more in three weeks.

14. Florida State Seminoles (2-0)
Previous ranking: 14
This week: vs. Canisius (Monday, 7p.m., ACCNE); at Advocare Invitational -- vs. UAB (Thursday, 9 p.m., ESPNU)

It's not a stretch to say Florida State could be the favorite to win the Advocare Invitational this week. Villanova is struggling, and the Seminoles are a bit further along in its development than potential semifinal opponent LSU.

15. LSU Tigers (4-0)
Previous ranking: 15
This week: at Advocare Invitational -- vs. Charleston (Thursday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)

We just hit on the potential semifinal between Florida State and LSU -- but if LSU is to win that game, the Tigers will have to improve on the defensive end of the floor. They're allowing 103.1 points per 100 possessions so far this season.

16. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-0)
Previous ranking: 16
This week: at MGM Main Event -- vs. Arizona State (Monday, 11 p.m., ESPNU)

We've seen Mississippi State beat up on inferior competition for a couple of weeks, but the Bulldogs will finally get its first test this week, against Arizona State then potentially Saint Mary's. We don't know the extent of Nick Weatherspoon's injury yet.

Dropped out: None