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Kansas moves to No. 6 in AP college basketball poll, eyes fifth No. 1 seed in eight years

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Kansas moved up two spots to No. 6 in the Associated Press college basketball Top 25 poll, released Monday.

The Jayhawks are gunning for a remarkable fifth No. 1 seed in the past eight seasons. They are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the flawed RPI, which puts far too much weight on schedule, At this rate, KU will have enough going for it on Selection Sunday that it will merit a top seed without even looking at the RPI, a crutch that bad selection committee members use.

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which two schools from the state of Kansas earn No. 1 seeds, Wichita State being the other.

The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 26 and total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, plus last week’s ranking:

        Record Pts Prv
  1. Arizona (63) 20-0 1,623 1
  2. Syracuse (2) 19-0 1,561 2
  3. Florida 17-2 1,436 6
  4. Wichita St. 21-0 1,435 5
  5. San Diego St. 18-1 1,337 7
  6. Kansas 15-4 1,272 8
  7. Michigan St. 18-2 1,251 3
  8. Oklahoma St. 16-3 1,067 11
  9. Villanova 17-2 1,063 4
  10. Michigan 15-4 1,050 21
  11. Kentucky 15-4 896 14
  12. Louisville 17-3 891 12
  13. Cincinnati 19-2 793 15
  14. Wisconsin 17-3 763 9
  15. Iowa 16-4 722 10
  16. Iowa St. 15-3 684 16
  17. Duke 16-4 549 18
  18. Pittsburgh 18-2 517 20
  19. Saint Louis 18-2 464 19
  20. Creighton 17-3 445 NR
  21. UMass 17-2 353 13
  22. Memphis 15-4 262 23
  23. Oklahoma 16-4 203 25
  24. Ohio St. 16-4 143 17
  25. Texas 16-4 142 NR

Others receiving votes: UConn 67, Gonzaga 51, UCLA 39, Virginia 18, George Washington 5, Green Bay 5, Kansas St. 5, Minnesota 5, SMU 3, American U. 1, Harvard 1, Louisiana Tech 1, New Mexico 1, Southern Miss. 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Arizona: Sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-footer who chose the Wildcats over Kansas, is coming along nicely. He’s averaging 9.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. If Tarczewski had gone to Kansas, that might have deterred Joel Embiid from coming a year later, so it’s worked out well for everybody.

2 - Syracuse: The stereotype of a zone defense — pack it in and make the opponent try to beat you from the outside — never has fit Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone and certainly doesn’t this season. Orange are tied for fifth in the country with 9.5 steals per game.

3 - Wichita State: I don’t believe in letting undefeated teams climb the rankings while others that play in tougher conferences knock off each other. That doesn’t apply to Wichita State. The Shockers are just that good, as they showed a year ago by their winning four NCAA tournament games by double-digits en route to Final Four, where they gave Louisville more trouble than anybody else.

4 - Florida: Whether forcing Kansas into 24 turnovers or frustrating Tennessee into 1-for-19 three-point shooting, Gators certainly know how to bring out worst in visitors in the O’Connell Center, where they have won 26 in a row.

5 - San Diego State: I’m not of the belief that the Aztecs beating Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse was all about KU playing poorly. The Aztecs know how to make teams play poorly. Were all 17 games during San Diego State’s active winning streak because they happen to catch teams on bad days? Best illustration of how clutch and composed Steve Fisher teams are lies in 15-1 record in past 16 overtime games.

6 - Kansas: Brannen Greene in his last three games: 21 minutes, 14 points, three rebounds, 5 of 7 from the field, 3 of 4 from three. That’s very bad news for the rest of the Big 12.

7 - Michigan: An amazing 7-0 in the Big Ten with the last three victories coming against top 10 teams, Wolverines doing it all without Mitch McGary, lost for season with back injury. Nik Stauskas averaging 18.5 points, shooting .462 from three and a perfect fit for coach John Beilein’s system, strong All-American candidate.

8 - Michigan State: At the moment Spartans aren’t best team in the state, but when all the games have been played they might stand alone as the best team in the country.

9 - Kentucky: Former Olathe Northwest wide receiver/center Willie Cauley-Stein, aka Billy Idol, leads Wildcats in blocked shots and steals and ranks second to Julius Randle in rebounds. Cauley-Stein seventh in nation with 3.37 blocks a game.

10 - Villanova: Where oh where has the ’Nova defense gone? Cats surrendered average of 66 points in first five Big East games, 90.5 in past two.

11 - Iowa: Michigan State visits for a 6 p.m. Tuesday can’t-miss game on ESPN.

12 - Wisconsin: Trip to West Lafayette to beat up on Purdue was just what Badgers needed to end three-game losing streak.

13 - Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart in his past two games: 4 of 21 from the field, 0 for 10 from three-point range.

14 - Cincinnati: Bearcats make short trip to Louisville to face Cardinals on Thursday. Wonder who Pete Rose likes and by how many in that one?

15 - Louisville: Two 39-point victories (South Florida and Houston) in past three games. Talented reserve Wayne Blackshear made a combined 8 of 10 threes in the blowouts.

16 - Pittsburgh: Two losses all season, to Cincinnati and Syracuse by a combined six points and still no respect. Chance at first victory against ranked opponent comes today at 6 p.m. vs. Duke in Pittsburgh.

17 - Duke: Freshman Semi Ojeleye from Ottawa High, has played 65 minutes. His stats: 25 points, 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three, .909 from the line, 14 rebounds, two assists, four blocked shots, three steals, five turnovers.

18 - Iowa State: Georges Niang and Matt Thomas buried four three-pointers apiece vs. Kansas State to end losing streak at three games.

19 - Memphis: A Saturday trip to Dallas to play SMU won’t be an easy one because the amazing Mustangs coach Larry Brown is working his magic again. Brown’s team takes five-game losing streak to Tampa to face South Florida on Tuesday.

20 - Creighton: Ethan Wragge scored all 27 points in 96-68 drubbing of Villanova on three-pointers. He hit seven of the threes in the first 6:03 of the game. Bobby Nightengale, the Lawrence Journal-World’s lead high school reporter, played the role of Wragge on the scout team for Jefferson HIgh in Bloomington, Minn. Nightengale never made five threes in six-plus minutes against the starters. So much for Scout Team Player of the Week honors.

21 - St. Louis: Billikens coach Jim Crews played for and coached under Bob Knight at Indiana. Crews has his team playing the sort of suffocating man-to-man defense for which Knight’s teams were noted. SLU ninth with .429 effective field goal percentage (national average .494) and 16th with .223 turnovers-per-possession percentage (.185 national average), according to kenpom.com.

22 - Oklahoma: Big Monday Bedlam in the Noble Center, 8 p.m. today, a huge game in the race for second place in the Big 12.

23 - UCLA: Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-9 point-forward, has 11 double-doubles, one of which was a triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists vs. Morehead State).

24 - Ohio State: Loss at Nebraska was fourth in a row, a streak that ended with home victory against Illinois. Wish I could credit the first person to notice amazing fact, but it went viral so quickly it’s tough to say who came up with it first: Iowa State, Ohio State, Oregon and Wisconsin started season a combined 58-0 and then went 0-14, a nice little lesson in the dangers of reading too much into anything until conference play starts.

25 - Texas: Victories against three consecutive ranked teams a school first and establishes legitimate contender in crowded race for second place in Big 12.

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