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The Dynamics of the First USA TODAY Sports Men’s Basketball


The dawn of 2024 brings a familiar landscape to the world of college basketball as the first USA TODAY Sports men’s basketball coaches poll mirrors the final rankings of 2023. However, a closer inspection reveals subtle yet significant changes at the summit, reshaping the narrative of the competitive season.

Purdue’s Stalwart Reign

Purdue, a force to be reckoned with, stands tall at the No. 1 position for the third consecutive week. The Boilermakers’ dominance is underscored by their resounding presence on 23 out of 32 ballots, a testament to their formidable performance on the court. In the pursuit of perfection, the unbeaten Houston squad emerges as a formidable contender, securing eight first-place votes. Their commendable efforts close the gap on the seasoned Kansas team. Despite Houston’s surge, the Jayhawks manage to retain the No. 2 ranking by a razor-thin margin, holding onto a single poll point and earning one first-place nod. The tussle at the top intensifies as Houston shares the No. 2 spot with Kansas, the Jayhawks claiming the last coveted No. 1 nod.

Connecticut and Tennessee Ascend Basketball

Amidst the top-tier clashes, Connecticut seizes the opportunity to move up a spot, securing the No. 4 ranking. Simultaneously, Tennessee orchestrates a two-place jump, settling into the No. 5 position. The subtle yet strategic maneuvers within the rankings signal a dynamic landscape as teams vie for supremacy.

Kentucky’s Meteoric Rise Basketball

The week’s most notable mover is Kentucky, executing a remarkable ascent of four spots to claim the No. 6 position. This surge places them ahead of Marquette and Illinois, showcasing the Wildcats’ resilience and competitive prowess. The shake-up within the top echelons reflects the unpredictable nature of college basketball.

North Carolina’s Steady Climb Basketball

In the quest for recognition, North Carolina steadily climbs the rankings, securing the No. 9 spot. The Tar Heels’ ascent adds another layer of intrigue to the unfolding narrative of the season, promising intense battles on the hardwood.

The Downturn – Arizona and Florida Atlantic

However, the journey to the top is not without its pitfalls. Arizona, once a formidable contender, experiences a setback, plummeting six positions to No. 10 after a disheartening loss at the hands of Stanford. Similarly, Florida Atlantic, fresh off a significant move, faces a harsh reality as they tumble 11 places to No. 17 following a defeat to a sub-.500 Florida Gulf Coast squad. These setbacks underscore the volatility inherent in the world of college basketball.

The Fringe – Gonzaga’s Narrow Hold

Gonzaga finds itself teetering on the edge at No. 25, holding onto its ranking by a thread. A nine-position descent follows a challenging encounter with San Diego State, emphasizing the fragility of a team’s standing in the rankings. In a tale of ups and downs, Auburn stages a resurgence, rejoining the poll at No. 24. This comeback coincides with the exit of a slumping Creighton, highlighting the ever-changing landscape of college basketball.


As the dust settles on the first USA TODAY Sports men’s basketball coaches poll of 2024, the narrative of the season unfolds with twists and turns. Purdue’s unwavering reign, Houston’s unbeaten surge, and the rise and fall of teams like Kentucky, Arizona, and Florida Atlantic set the stage for an exhilarating journey ahead. The rankings serve as a dynamic canvas, capturing the essence of college basketball’s unpredictable nature. The season is poised for excitement, showcasing the resilience, setbacks, and triumphs that make the sport a captivating spectacle for fans around the world.

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