NCAAM

Projecting the AP Top 25: Week 13

Projecting the AP Poll

This year the NCAA announced they’d be putting out a show on February 11th revealing the top 16 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. The reveal is intended to provide insight as to how the committee evaluates teams, a month before the drama of Selection Sunday ensues. The hope is that the special will provide a glimpse of where teams stand in the NCAA tournament spectrum. In that regard the NCAA is likely drawing from the success of the weekly College Football Playoff Top 4 reveal specials. Since I put out weekly blogs dissecting the CFP playoff rankings, it is only right that I pay similar attention to the AP Top 25 poll in the lead up to the NCAA tournament. But why stop at 25 teams? The volatility of the college basketball landscape is far greater than that of college football because of the greater amount of games that teams play per week. Furthermore, March Madness allows for 68 teams (including first four) to take part in Selection Sunday. That number means that far more than 25 teams are still in play for at large bids. Therefore, a 50 team ranking would seem more indicative of the NCAA tournament picture. However, it is important to note that conference champions from all 32 conferences will receive automatic bids. Therefore, many of the teams who make the tournament won’t even sniff a spot in the AP top 25 or my top 50 rankings for that matter. Quite simply, many teams who win less competitive conferences would rank no where near the top 50. But so is the structure of the NCAA tournament, that makes for the type of “madness” we know and love. I promise I won’t bore you to death by talking at length about anyone outside of the top 30. This list will be more of a reflection of what i believe the AP and or the tournament committee will do than my own opinion. Without any further adieu here is a look at how some of the country’s top programs stand at this point in the season

  1. Villanova
  2. Virginia
  3. Purdue
  4. Michigan State
  5. Xavier
  6. Cincinnati
  7. Duke
  8. Kansas
  9. Arizona
  10. Texas Tech
  11. Gonzaga
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Wichita State
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Ohio State
  16. West Virginia
  17. North Carolina
  18. Auburn
  19. Florida
  20. Tennessee
  21. Kentucky
  22. Rhode Island
  23. Florida State
  24. Arizona State
  25. Kansas State
  26. Louisville
  27. Clemson
  28. Miami
  29. Michigan
  30. Virginia Tech
  31. Seton Hall
  32. Creighton
  33. TCU
  34. Houston
  35. Nevada
  36. New Mexico State
  37. Texas
  38. Boise State
  39. Alabama
  40. USC
  41. Arkansas
  42. Providence
  43. South Carolina
  44. Butler
  45. Syracuse
  46. Texas A&M
  47. Penn State
  48. Maryland
  49. Notre Dame
  50. UCLA

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Villanova should keep hold of the top spot in this week’s AP poll after fending off both Providence and Marquette. At #2 in my rankings, Virginia has a strong case for the top spot after taking care of a Duke team ranked number 4. Despite notching a victory in the biggest game of the week, I don’t see the AP placing them ahead of a Villanova team that has been the picture of consistency all season long. While the order of the top 2 spots is debatable, the 3rd position in my rankings is set in stone. Purdue will surely maintain the #3 spot after defeating #25 Michigan and Indiana. Michigan State will likely move up to the #4 spot after defeating both Maryland and Wisconsin. Their advancement in the polls is based more off of both Duke and Kansas dropping games. At numbers 5 and 6 I have rivals Xavier and Cincinnati respectively. Not because I think they’re better teams than Duke and Kansas, but rather they both took care of business going undefeated this past week. Both teams, particularly Cincinnati, will likely not find themselves as high in the polls by season’s end.  Duke only drops 3 spots to the #7 ranking after falling to #2 Virginia at home. Have no fear Cameron crazies, this Blue Devils team that undoubtedly is the most talented in the country is still very much in play for a one seed in the NCAA tournament. Another Blue chip program that still has a shot at a one seed are the big 12 perennial powerhouse Kansas Jayhwaks at #8. After dropping a close game to superstar Trae Young and the Okalhoma Sooners, the Jayhwaks bounced back nicely with a decisive victory over Texas A&M over the weekend. Making their return to the top 10 after a long absence is Arizona at #9. The Wildcats dispatched both Utah and Colorado this week and are finally starting to look like a team that began the year as a national title favorite. Rounding out the top 10 is Texas Tech. After losing two straight games last week, the Red Raiders bounced back nicely with consecutive victories against good Oklahoma State and South Carolina teams. It should be noted that Arizona and Texas Tech’s jump in the poll was only made possible by losses from North Carolina, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.

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Just outside of the top we have a trio of the the usual suspect mid major programs. The first of which is Gonzaga at #11. The Zags aren’t the same team that made it to the NCAA tournament finals last year, but they are still one of the better teams in the country. An argument can be made here for Saint Mary’s, who beat Gonzaga earlier this season. But for now I’ll keep the keep the Gaels at #12. Although I love Jock Landale, I wouldn’t be confident in Saint Mary’s against high level power 5 programs. The last “mid-major” is actually a mid-major no longer. Wichita State made the switch to the American Athletic Conference this year and seem to be acclimating quite nicely to their new schedule. A few slip ups have held this team back from sustaining a top 10 ranking. When on their game, I’d likely favor the Shockers over both Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. Yet for now they sit at #13. Right behind the Shockers is a team that defeated them earlier this year. Oklahoma had an up and down week knocking of Kansas, but falling to Alabama. The loss to an unranked, but formidable tide team will likely drop them a few  spots to #14. At #15 it will likely be Ohio State. A buzzer beater from Penn State handed the buckeyes a loss at home. A narrow defeat shouldn’t dock this team too much.

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One of the teams that will see a great drop in the rankings this week is West Virginia. Bob Huggins’ team dropped consecutive game to TCU and Kentucky. Four losses in their last five games could see the Mountaineers fall nine spots to #16 in this week’s rankings. Just like the Mountaineers, the Tar Heels have also been trending downward as of late and find themselves at #17 in my rankings. North Carolina, ranked #10 at the start of the week, also lost 2 straight games, but to Virginia Tech and NC State. Making up the rest of the top 20, we have a trio of SEC teams. At #18 Auburn has been one of the most underrated teams in the country all season long. The Tigers are one of the few teams left in the country with 2 losses. Up to this point pundits have been reluctant to give the team any credit. To put it in perspective, Cincinnati of all programs was ranked 10 spots higher in last week’s poll despite having having the same record. Nevertheless, the Tigers continue to rack up wins and sit atop the SEC in a deep year for the conference. Speaking of SEC depth, lets talk about Florida. Currently, they reside in the #19 spot in my rankings. People forgot about the Gators after rough patch placed the team once ranked in top 10, outside of the top 25. The Gators have come roaring back in recent weeks and got another crucial victory over Baylor in the Big 12/ SEC Challenge this weekend. The SEC had a ton of success a conference in this challenge, including Tennessee. The Vols’ took care of Iowa State with relative ease and will move up to #20 in this week’s rankings.

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Just as we ended the top 20 with an SEC team, we will begin the rest of the top 50 with an SEC team. Kentucky makes their return to the rankings this week after only a week long absence at #21. The Wildcats notched wins over Mississippi State and more importantly against #7 West Virginia.  This young team’s comeback on the road against a top team like the Mountaineers will surely command respect from the AP. From the mightiest of Blue chip programs, we go on to another mid major team in the top 25. Rhode Island should make its way into the AP Poll this week at #22. The rams have won 12 straight and boast a 17-3 record with wins over Seton Hall and Providence.

Florida State put together three straight victories including a valuable overtime win against Miami. Additionally the Noles’ sport a 16-5 record with notable wins over Florida and North Carolina which should earn them a ranking at #23. Arizona State will likely drop a few spots but not fall out of the top 25, after a tight loss to Utah. The final position in the top 25 should belong to Kansas State. The Wildcats have strung together four straight wins, including victories over Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, and Georgia. They enter the new week as one of hottest teams in college basketball.

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Just outside the top 25, and with a shout for a spot in the AP Poll, are Louisville, Clemson, Michigan, Miami, and Virginia Tech. Louisville has been a team playing much better basketball as of late with wins in five of their last six. Despite falling in overtime to Miami, the Cardinals bounced back with a convincing victory over Wake Forest. Clemson will likely fall out of the AP top 25 after getting obliterated by #2 Virginia at the midweek. In their first game without Donte Grantham, the Tigers were held to only 36 points. Clemson rebounded by grinding out a victory against Georgia Tech, but I still would expect them be ranked somewhere in the #24 – #27 range. Miami is undoubtedly one of the 25 most talented teams in the country, but they’ve struggled to find consistency as of late. After defeating Louisville in overtime, Miami would fall to Florida State in overtime as well. They won’t be making the AP top 25 this week, but Miami should find their way back into the rankings at some point in the season. Michigan is another team that “belongs” in the top 25. Unfortunately, after sitting at #25 this past week, the Wolverines fell in a tightly contested matchup against #3 Purdue. With 5 straight winnable games coming up on their schedule, that will not be the last that we see of Michigan in the top 25. Last but not least is a team that has been surging up the standings with their play this past week. Virginia Tech knocked off both #10 North Carolina and Notre Dame on its way to a 15-6 record. If they continue to build a resume, the Hokies may find a way into the AP top 25. I could spend six more hours talking about the next 20 teams up, but I’ll just end it there. My mom is probably the only one still reading at this point anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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