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College basketball rankings: Villanova may have lost to UCLA, but the Wildcats showed they are a top-five team

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I ranked UCLA No. 1 in Version 1.0 of the 2021-22 CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 And 1 last April. Then Gonzaga subsequently added some interesting pieces, which caused me to flipflop the Bruins and Zags. But I never had UCLA lower than No. 2 the entire offseason.

Some readers took great issue with it.

I was constantly asked, month after month after month, where I would rank UCLA if the Bruins had lost in the First Four last season and not advanced to the Final Four. Respectfully, I always thought it was a weird question, if only because it’s pretty normal to gauge and label teams based on what they actually do, and what UCLA actually did is make the Final Four, finish 13th at KenPom, return every player who was responsible for it, and add a five-star freshman in Peyton Watson who projects as a one-and-done lottery pick. I didn’t really understand why the Bruins had skeptics. But they did – although, after Friday night’s impressive comeback victory, I have to assume the number of skeptics is shrinking.

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Final score: UCLA 86, Villanova 77 in OT.

In this season’s first matchup of top-five teams, UCLA erased a double-digit deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation, forced overtime, and then pulled away in OT to secure a nice non-league victory over the Big East favorite. Johnny Juzang, a CBS Sports First Team Preseason All-American, led all scorers with 25 points. Jaime Jaquez Jr., a CBS Sports Third Team Preseason All-American, added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

 “I told [Villanova coach] Jay [Wright], let’s just do it again tomorrow,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said with a grin afterward. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

It really doesn’t.

So give credit to Wright and Cronin for scheduling this game and making it happen. Both coaches knew their teams would be good, understood the value of testing themselves early, and weren’t worried about possibly taking a non-league loss in November. This isn’t college football, where one early loss really can cost you an opportunity to play for a national title. College basketball isn’t dumb like that. Nothing that happens in terms of wins and losses in November is a season-killer. It’s nice when coaches recognize that and create fun games for the sport.

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Hopefully more will do it next season.

UCLA remains No. 2 in Saturday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. Villanova remains No. 5 because — listen up, AP voters! — it would make no sense to punish a team for losing a game in overtime to a higher-ranked team on the road.

Top 25 And 1 rankings





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Croatia's Incredible Run: No. 48 | Most Memorable Moments in World Cup History

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Coming in at No. 48 on the most memorable moments in World Cup History, Croatia makes an incredible run in the 2018 World Cup.



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Kobe Bryant came to visit Lamar Odom in his dreams | CLUB SHAY SHAY

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Lamar Odom tells Shannon Sharpe that Kobe has come to him in his dreams at least 4 times. “He said something to me I’ll never forget: ‘The afterlife ain’t what people make it up to be…’I didn’t know how to take that, it stuck with me.”



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Green Bay Packers winning unimpressively, Cowherd says

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Colin Cowherd refused to put the Packers among his top 10 NFL teams. Here’s why he’s not so high on Green Bay.



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