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Kansas remained No. 8 in the Associated Press college basketball poll and Iowa State moved up to No. 10. Big 12 teams Oklahoma (16), Baylor (19) and West Virginia (20) also are ranked. Oklahoma State lost twice and dropped out.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 22, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv<br>
- Kentucky (65) 27-0 1,625 1
- Virginia 25-1 1,526 2
- Gonzaga 28-1 1,471 3
- Duke 24-3 1,448 4
- Wisconsin 25-2 1,390 5
- Villanova 25-2 1,306 6
- Arizona 24-3 1,228 7
- Kansas 22-5 1,111 8
- Notre Dame 24-4 1,109 10
- N. Iowa 26-2 1,032 11
- Wichita St. 25-3 930 13
- Iowa St. 20-6 887 14
- Utah 21-5 876 9
- Maryland 22-5 695 16
- North Carolina 19-8 655 15
- Oklahoma 19-8 622 17
- Louisville 21-6 613 12
- Arkansas 22-5 564 18
- Baylor 20-7 473 20
- West Virginia 21-6 453 23
- SMU 22-5 357 21
- VCU 21-6 182 25
- Butler 19-8 165 19
- San Diego St. 22-6 117 _
- Providence 19-8 72 _
Others receiving votes: Georgetown 58, Michigan St. 56, Murray St. 42, Oklahoma St. 25, Ohio St. 12, Valparaiso 10, Texas A&M 8, Rhode Island 3, Stephen F. Austin 2, Oregon 1, Texas 1.
My top 25 AP ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Three future NBA centers Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson combine for 63.3 minutes per game, 26 points, 18.3 rebounds, 4.8 blocks and .564 shooting. Many NBA teams don’t have a single NBA centers, present or future.
2 - Virginia: Held Florida State without a field goal in the final 10-and-a-half minutes of game clock in 51-41 victory. Unbelievable defensive team.
3 - Gonzaga: Nobody ever will mistake him for the guy known by the first four letters of Kyle Wiltjer’s last name, but by one kenpom.com measure, Wiltjer is the highest-rated offensive player in the nation. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Kentucky transfer leads Zags with 17.4 points per game and shoots .543 from the field, .469 from three and .806 from line.
4 - Duke: The bigger the game, the better freshman point guard T’yus Jones plays. In leading Duke from a 10-point deficit with inside four minutes left to an overtime victory, Jones totaled 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
5 - Wisconsin: Say what you will about the Big Ten having a down year, but going in 13-1 in league games, with the one coming when two starters were sidelined, is nothing short of amazing.
6 - Villanova: Providence and Butler only teams to come within single digits of Wildcats during active eight-game winning streak.
7 - Arizona: Three top scorers, Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, combined to shoot 4 of 25 vs. UCLA and still Arizona won, 57-47. Another oddity from that game: First four minutes of game and first four of second half, UCLA outscored Arizona, 20-0.
8 - Kansas: Defensive rebounding has become such a concern it might be time to leave Cliff Alexander on the floor, except when the opponent is applying defensive pressure, and live with his spacy moments.
9 - Notre Dame: Irish don’t have a shot-blocker and 6-foot-10, 242-pound junior Zach Auguste is the only player in the starting lineup taller than 6-5. Team compensates by taking smart shots and spreading the floor with .404 three-point shooting. Four of top six in minutes played shoot .406 or better from three.
10 - Iowa State: Fred Hoiberg has breathed so much life into the Cyclones program, yet until this past weekend his teams had not won two consecutive Big 12 road games. No better indication exists of the difficulty of winning away from home in Big 12 than that. And it’s not as if the Cyclones faced a couple of stiffs in Oklahoma State and Texas.
11 - Utah: The Utes’ ability to score inside has opened up three-pointers to the extent they were shooting almost 40 percent from three. That sometimes can lead to a team settling for threes. That happened in Sunday’s 11-point loss at Oregon, where Utes attempted more threes (29) than twos (23).
12 - Louisville: In a week that featured a loss at Syracuse and victory vs. Miami, guard Terry Rozier hoisted 33 shots and made just nine, which by Cardinals standards isn’t as bad as it sounds.
13 - North Carolina: Here comes J.P. Tokoto, athletic 6-5 junior forward who does a little bit of everything. In overtime loss at Duke and one-sided victory vs. Georgia Tech, Tokoto averaged 13.5 points, seven rebounds, six assists.
14 - Maryland: Chance to improve NCAA Tournament seed comes Tuesday, when Terps play host to Wisconsin.
15 - Northern Iowa: Huge week for the Panthers. They have chance to avenge lone Missouri Valley Conference loss Wednesday when Evansville visits. If that goes well, they can win conference outright Saturday in Wichita.
16 - Oklahoma: Tell me again how this team was swept by Kansas State?
17 - Wichita State: Carrying a short list with five names on it is stuffed in every athletic director’s wallet, in the event he or she must hire a basketball coach in the offseason. Gregg Marshall’s name has to be on just about every list, every year and he stays with the Shockers because he loves his job, his players, his adopted city. How cool is that?
18 - Arkansas: Mike Anderson making mentor Nolan Richardson proud. Key to Hogs’ success: Hurry opponents into mistakes (16.5 turnovers) and don’t make many of your own (11.8).
19 - Michigan State: A victory Thursday would give Spartans a season-high, five-game winning streak.
20- West Virginia: Kenpom.com stats: A national-best 16.4 percent of opponents’ possessions end in a steal and Mountaineers rank sixth in nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
21 - Baylor: Scott Drew’s team deserves credit for playing hard and showing toughness. How else could the Bears rank No. 1 in the nation with an offensive-rebound percentage of 42.1?
22 - Georgetown: Teams with a really good guard (D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera) and a really hard-to-guard center (Joshua Smith) and a good defense (18th in nation in defensive efficiency, per kenpom.com). Think the Kansas team led by Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson.
23 - SMU: Larry Brown’s leading scorer is 5-9, 170-pound Nic Moore from Lake Winona, Ind. He has made 10 of 20 threes in the past four games and is shooting .429 from long range and averaging 14.5 points.
24 - Virginia Commonwealth: Rams are young, lack size and don’t get to the free-throw line very often. They compensate by forcing turnovers and not committing them.
25 - San Diego State: Aztecs steadily improving. They’re riding four-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 17.5 points.
Kansas held its No. 8 spot in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released today.
The top 25 teams in the AP college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 15, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (65) 25-0 1,625 1
- Virginia 23-1 1,524 2
- Gonzaga 26-1 1,475 3
- Duke 22-3 1,449 4
- Wisconsin 23-2 1,387 5
- Villanova 23-2 1,302 6
- Arizona 22-3 1,213 7
- Kansas 21-4 1,195 8
- Utah 20-4 1,051 11
- Notre Dame 22-4 1,038 10
- N. Iowa 24-2 955 13
- Louisville 20-5 882 9
- Wichita St. 23-3 862 15
- Iowa St. 18-6 761 14
- North Carolina 18-7 658 12
- Maryland 21-5 640 19
- Oklahoma 17-8 554 17
- Arkansas 20-5 476 24
- Butler 18-7 456 18
- Baylor 18-7 364 16
- SMU 21-5 299 25
- Oklahoma St. 17-8 240 21
- West Virginia 19-6 154 21
- Ohio St. 19-7 139 23
- VCU 19-6 109 20
Others receiving votes: Texas 70, San Diego St. 64, Providence 44, Murray St. 38, Temple 28, Georgetown 23, Michigan St. 17, Dayton 10, Texas A&M 8, Valparaiso 8, Indiana 7.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Again the nation’s best team, except for most NBA squads, escaped another close one on the road, 71-69, in Baton Rouge. LSU went on a 21-2 run after Karl-Anthony Towns received a technical foul for hanging on the rim. Calipari lit up Towns, benched him and watched his team fall behind 66-60 without callinga timeout.
“I’m not worried about losing,” Calipari said afterward. “This is about us getting better.”
Upset with his team’s play, Calipari said after the game that he told his team, “I hope we lose,” after Towns hung on the rim. Never a dull moment with Calipari and his undefeated Wildcats.
2 - Virginia: On the one hand, a broken finger that will sideline Justin Anderson until some point in March could cost him a shot at the Wooden Award. On the other hand, seeing how much worse Virginia is without him could help him win the award. Without Anderson, the Cavs have shot a wretched 6 for 37 from three-point range, haven’t defended as well and have struggled to go 3-0.
3 - Gonzaga: Domantas Sabonis, the 6-foot-10, 231 pound freshman from Lithuania, averages 9.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and shoots national-best .707 from the field for the most talented Zags team ever.
4 - Duke: Blue Devils survived two tough road games (Florida State and Syracuse). When road challenges pop up, look for seniors to lead the way. Coach K didn’t see any reason to rest Quinn Cook in either game and in 80 minutes, Cook scored 43 points and made 13 of 15 free throws. Great freshman class, but it’s Cook who holds this team together.
5 - Wisconsin: Badgers pulling away from Big Ten field even faster than Kansas is from Big 12 competitors. Badgers 11-1 with a three-game lead.
6 - Villanova: When Villanova defeated Kansas, 63-59, in the Bahamas, the outcome was painted as a stunner. But the reality is ‘Nova has been a better team than Kansas the past two seasons, posting a 52-7 record. Kansas has played a tougher schedule, but also has lost twice as many games.
7 - Kansas: Perry Ellis averaging 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in past five games. “I’ve coached him for three years and I’ve said he leaves me wanting more, but I haven’t thought that of late,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I think he’s playing closer to his ceiling now than he has.”
8 - Arizona: Size doesn’t always translate to rebounding, but it certainly does with Arizona. Point guard T.J. McConnell is joined in the starting lineup by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7, 220), Stanley Johnson (6-7, 245), Brandon Ashley (6-9, 230) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 245). Opponents rebound 22.4 percent of their misses, per kenpom.com, which makes Wildcats the best defensive rebounding team in nation.
9 - Louisville: North Carolina State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber, recruited for a while by Kansas, has reached 20 points in three of last four games and scored 21 points to lead 74-65 upset at Louisville. Afterward, he spoke in the third person: “Coaches keep telling me, ‘Be me. Be Cat and do what Cat does best.’ I think I’ve taken that under consideration.” As a child, I had a cat that killed a cardinal. It was very sad and ranks in the top 25 reasons I like dogs better than cats.
10 - Notre Dame: On Tuesday, Irish play host to Danny Manning’s Wake Forest squad, which is coming off one-point loss at Virginia in a game that could come to be known as the Valentine’s Day non-massacre.
11 - Utah: Utes so upset about losing at UCLA that they have won the next four games by margins of 15 points or greater. They hit the road this week for a pair of games vs. the Oregon schools.
12 - North Carolina: Tar Heels head into Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday having lost three of past four games. In Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh, the Panthers shot 65 percent, the highest mark against the Tar Heels since Williams went back to his alma mater.
13 - Iowa State: Cyclones, 1-4 on the road in Big 12 play, head to Stillwater and Austin this week.
14 - Northern Iowa: Panthers riding 13-game winning streak. Freshman reserve guard Wyatt Lohaus is nine inches shorter than his father, Brad Lohaus (University of Iowa, eight NBA teams in 11 seasons), but did inherit Brad’s shooting touch. The younger Lohaus is shooting .464 from three and .889 from the line and plays 14.1 minutes per game.
15 - Oklahoma: If not for getting swept by Kansas State, Sooners would stand one-half game behind first-place Kansas. Sweeping Oklahoma was the stately thing for K-State to do.
16 - Wichita State: Shockers aren’t as talented as last season, but play with every bit as much defensive grit, limiting opponents to 55.8 points a game, eighth in nation.
17 - Butler: Bulldogs fell just short, 68-65, of adding Villanova to list of victims that already includes North Carolina, Georgetown, St. John’s twice, Xavier and Seton Hall twice.
18 - Maryland: Senior Dez Wells doesn’t shoot a ton of threes (two per game), but makes 52.6 percent of his attempts. .
19 - Michigan State: Slowly the Spartans have turned, step by step, inch by inch, on the way to playing their best basketball in the NCAA tournament. Maybe. Four of final six games on the road.
20 - Ohio State: Sharp-shooter Marc Loving played just five minutes in three-point loss at Michigan State in first game back from three-game suspension. Bench scored three points.
21 - Oklahoma State: Cowboys were on mighty three-game roll, winning at Texas, then at home vs. Kansas, then at Baylor. And then they lost by 15 points at TCU? Cowboys made 3 of 16 threes (.188) and turned it over 17 times. Maybe it was particularly windy in the Horned Frogs’ temporary home.
22 - Baylor: The fact that Baylor, an athletic team that plays so hard, is .500 in Big 12 play and tied for sixth is as good a testament to conference’s strength as any other evidence.
23 - Arkansas: Sophomore post player Bobby Portis had a stretch of nine game in which he produced a double-double eight times.
24 - Virginia Commonwealth: After losing three in four-game stretch, Rams bounced back nicely with 13-point victory at George Washington.
25 - SMU: Gifted point guard Eammanuel Mudiay suffered a season-ending ankle injury after 10 games in China. If he had played at SMU and stayed healthy, no telling how much higher Larry Brown’s team would be ranked.
Kansas' loss at Oklahoma State, coming five days after an impressive defeat of visiting Iowa State, didn't hurt Kansas in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released today. The Jayhawks remained at No. 8. It did, however, help the Cowboys. They vaulted from toward the bottom of "others receiving votes" to No. 21.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 8, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (65) 23-0 1,625 1
- Virginia 21-1 1,518 3
- Gonzaga 24-1 1,486 2
- Duke 20-3 1,450 4
- Wisconsin 21-2 1,385 5
- Villanova 21-2 1,294 7
- Arizona 20-3 1,185 6
- Kansas 19-4 1,171 8
- Louisville 19-4 1,120 9
- Notre Dame 21-4 948 10
- Utah 18-4 946 13
- North Carolina 18-6 871 12
- N. Iowa 22-2 846 14
- Iowa St. 17-5 842 11
- Wichita St. 21-3 743 16
- Baylor 18-5 694 19
- Oklahoma 16-7 565 21
- Butler 18-6 462 22
- Maryland 19-5 347 17
- VCU 18-5 296 18
- Oklahoma St. 16-7 273 _
- West Virginia 18-5 273 15
- Ohio St. 18-6 271 20
- Arkansas 18-5 221 _
- SMU 19-5 81 23
Others receiving votes: Iowa 38, Providence 26, Texas 25, Stephen F. Austin 22, Cincinnati 21, Murray St. 20, Indiana 13, Rhode Island 12, Georgetown 9, Texas A&M 7, Temple 6, Mississippi 3, Old Dominion 3, Harvard 2, San Diego St. 2, Xavier 2, Valparaiso 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Sure, the winningest program of all-time has by far the most talent in the nation, but the Wildcats are gamers too. They find different ways to win close games. Saturday night on the road against Florida, Kentucky made 21 of 22 free throws.
2 - Virginia: Justin Anderson, a terrific guard and legitimate first-team All-American candidate, suffered a fractured finger that is expected to keep him out anywhere from four to six weeks.
3 - Gonzaga: Such an enjoyable team to watch because of the wide variety of means of scoring, or as people unfortunately say these days “scoring the basketball.” Zags would have one more way to score, but college referees discourage hard drives into the lane because they have reverted to calling charges when defenders, primary and secondary, slide into position after the offensive player leaves his feet. And they get away with it.
4 - Duke: Justise Winslow wouldn’t be known as “the other freshman” in many programs. He dazzled Notre Dame in 30-point victory with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
5 - Wisconsin: Badgers only loss with Frank Kaminsky in lineup came against Duke. Kaminsky shoots threes at a .414 clip and blocks 1.6 shots a game. He’s everywhere.
6 - Louisville: Scored 13 points in first half of five-point loss to Virginia. Cards really know how to make the game ugly.
7 - Villanova: Wildcats pride themselves on not letting foes get good looks from three and certainly accomplished that goal evening score against Georgetwon with 16-point victory. Hoyas made 1 of 17 threes.
8 - Kansas: In past five games, Wayne Selden has made 15 of 24 three-point shots (.625) and 5 for 21 two-pointers (.238). On the season, he’s shooting an excellent .419 (39 for 93) from three and an abysmal .324 (36-111) from two inside the arc. Strange numbers for a guy built like a linebacker. It’s such a 180 from a year ago, when he shot .328 from three and .530 from two.
9 - Arizona: Wildcats’ three losses, all on the road, none to ranked teams, have come by combined margin of nine points. If Davidson, in sixth place in the Atlantic 10 with a 6-4 record and 15-6 overall mark, could get hot at right time, win the A-10 tournament for an automatic tournament berth and pull off a series of upsets, it could set up an all-Wildcat Final Four, joining Kentucky, Villanova and Arizona. Or maybe Kansas State could ... never mind.
10 - Notre Dame: Ten days after defeating Duke, the Irish were blasted out of Cameron Indoor Stadium, 90-60. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
11 - North Carolina: Late great coach Dean Smith not only was a member of the Kansas 1957 national-championship basketball team, he played freshman football and earned three varsity letters (1951-53) on the baseball team.
12 - Iowa State: It’s amazing how much motivational fuel teams bring against opponents that upset them earlier in the year. Cyclones, two weeks after getting knocked off by Texas Tech, slammed the Red Raiders, 75-38, in Ames. Jameel McKay, such a diference-maker for the Cyclones, made all seven field-goal attempts and had 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals in the rematch.
13 - Utah: Utes went on the road and defeated USC and Colorado, both by 28 points, and moved into a first-place tie with Arizona at 8-2 in the Pac-12. Conference title could come down to Feb. 28 showdown with Arizona in Utah on Feb. 28.
14 - Baylor: Bears aren’t just on a three-game winning streak, they’re on a three-game rout streaking, wasting Texas by 23, TCU by 20 and West Virginia by 18. Rico Gathers (12.5 rebounds per game) ranks second nationally to Delaware State senior Kendall Gray.
15 - Ohio State: Marc Loving, the nation’s leading three-point shooter (.532) and the Buckeyes only double-figures scorer other than freshman sensation D’Angelo Russell, was suspended indefinitely by the athletic department for an unspecified off-the-court incident. Without Loving, Buckeyes lost to Purdue, 60-58, and Russell (20 points) was only one in double figures.
16 - Oklahoma: Sooners avenged 21-point loss to West Virginia by blasting Mountaineers by 19 and won at TCU by a dozen. Tonight, in what should be one of the more entertaining Big 12 games of season, Sooners visit Iowa State.
17 - Northern Iowa: Three-point shooting percentages of Panthers’ top six scorers: Seth Tuttle (.433), Wes Weshpun (.450), Deon Mitchell (.390), Nate Buss (.429), Matt Bohannon (.389), Paul Jesperson (.438). Leave your man to play help defense at your own peril. UNI has won 11 in a row and only two losses came at VCU in double-overtime and at Evansville.
18 - Wichita State: Ron Baker, the junior guard from Scott City, leads Shockers with 15.9 points and is shooting .415 from three.
19 - Butler: If I see one more TV tease or internet headline that reads: “The Butler Did It,” I’m going to send the butler after whomever wrote it.
20 - Maryland: Lost by 16 at Iowa, which makes it three losses in five games for Turge’s Terps.
21 - Virginia Commonwealth: Rams lost at St. Bonaventure. Perhaps they were distracted. Olean, N.Y. is so beautiful this time of year.
22 - West Virginia: Look for Mountaineers to bounce back from rough week. Lost at Oklahoma, 71-52, and in Morgantown vs. Baylor, 87-69. Mountaineers made just 11 of 49 threes for the week and are shooting .294 from long distance for the season.
23 - Oklahoma State: Michael Cobbins suffered season-ending injury right before conference play last season. Man, does he ever make the Cowboys tougher to score on in the paint. The 6-8 senior plays a lot taller than that and averages 2.2 blocks a game. Love his game.
24 - Arkansas: Bobby Portis, a 6-11 sophomore from Little Rock, averages 17.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shoots .562 from the field, .529 from three and .739 from the line. In the past four games — three victories and a one-point loss at Florida — he has made 30 of 50 shots and 15 of 17 free throws.
25 - SMU: Recovered from second loss of season to Cincinnati by hitting the road to deal Tulsa its first American Conference loss.
College basketball fans unaware that the NIT still exists might have reason to tune in next month to the tournament that steadily has faded from prominence.
The shot clock for the 32-team men's tournament that features the best teams that come away empty on Selection Sunday will be reduced from 35 seconds to 30 in order to see what impact it has on scoring and pace of play, the NCAA announced Friday. Also, the restricted arc area under the basket will be extended from 3 feet from the center of the basket to 4 feet.
Kansas coach Bill Self consistently has spoken in favor of shaving the shot clock to 30 seconds.
“A lot of coaches are not in favor of shot-clock reduction,” Self said last month when the discuss the down-ward scoring trend in college basketball. “They think that if you have trouble scoring now try getting a shot earlier in the clock where you don’t give the defense a chance to break down. I’m not one who feels that way. I think the shot clock should be reduced because coaches will adjust and try to score earlier in the clock than if there was a 35-second clock, as opposed to 30, but a lot of coaches across America do not feel strongly about that at all.”
In announcing the NIT's participation in serving as guinea pigs for the two potential rules changes, the NCAA defined the restricted-arc, which became a rule in the 2011-12 season, thusly: "A secondary defender cannot establish initial legal guarding position in the restricted area for the purpose of drawing a charge while defending a player who is in control of the ball - either dribbling or shooting - or who has released a pass or shot. When contact occurs in the restricted area under these circumstances, a blocking foul should be called unless the contact is a flagrant foul."
I like the idea of expanding the restricted area a foot because it subtly promotes offense and should make a player less tentative when driving to the hoop and rewarded more often for blowing past his man.
The NIT holds an important place in college basketball's tradition, so it's cool that the NCAA has kept it alive and has found another reason for keeping it relevant by making it a laboratory for potential rules changes.
The NCAA Men's Basketball Rules Committee meets May 13-15 in Indianapolis and discussing the data from the NIT games is on the agenda.
“The committee discussed both of these potential rule changes during its May 2014 meeting, knowing that the May 2015 meeting would be the committee’s next opportunity to make a change to either of these rules,” said Belmont coach Rick Byrd, who chairs the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee. “Although the committee will discuss a number of potential rules changes at the meeting, having specific data on these two rules should help the committee make a decision about whether such potential rule changes might further improve the flow and competitiveness of college basketball.”
Promoting offense is the way to go, especially if done with subtle rules changes, which isn't to say low scoring can be blamed on the rules.
"I think a lot of that is bad offense," Self said. "I think it’s easier to coach defense than offense a lot of times and it’s easier to stop people than exploit people. I think a lot of coaches feel that way. But our players’ skill set I don’t think is quite as good. I think it’s just generally going down in large part because we don’t have as many great players playing in the college game as what we’ve had in the past because none of them stay past their sophomore year.”
The biggest influence on the decline in skill is one nobody ever discusses: Video games. Leisure time once spent shooting hoops now is spent slaying dragons or putting up jumpers as LeBron James.
Kansas was ranked eighth in the Associated Press college basketball poll released today, a one-spot move up the rankings from a week ago.
The Jayhawks are the highest ranked among six Big 12 schools: Iowa State (11), West Virginia (15), Baylor (19), Oklahoma (21) and Texas (25) also made the cut.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 1, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (65) 21-0 1,625 1
- Gonzaga 22-1 1,503 3
- Virginia 19-1 1,470 2
- Duke 18-3 1,416 4
- Wisconsin 19-2 1,381 5
- Arizona 20-2 1,338 6
- Villanova 19-2 1,209 7
- Kansas 18-3 1,177 9
- Louisville 18-3 1,114 10
- Notre Dame 20-3 1,072 8
- Iowa St. 16-4 892 15
- North Carolina 17-5 861 13
- Utah 17-4 824 11
- N. Iowa 20-2 792 18
- West Virginia 18-3 779 17
- Wichita St. 19-3 678 12
- Maryland 18-4 508 16
- VCU 17-4 479 14
- Baylor 16-5 420 20
- Ohio St. 17-5 358 _
- Oklahoma 14-7 312 24
- Butler 16-6 250 25
- SMU 18-4 221 _
- Georgetown 15-6 162 21
- Texas 14-7 106 19
Others receiving votes: Texas A&M 40, Seton Hall 22, Arkansas 21, Indiana 18, San Diego St. 18, Colorado St. 11, Dayton 9, Tulsa 8, Xavier 8, Stephen F. Austin 5, Providence 3, Stanford 3, Louisiana Tech 2, Murray St. 2, Oklahoma St. 2, Temple 2, Georgia 1, Michigan St. 1, Rhode Island 1, Valparaiso 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Nation’s best team hasn’t scored more than 70 points in any of past five games.
2 - Virginia: Cavs made just 3 of 13 three-pointers vs. Duke and didn’t score a fast-break bucket in first loss of season.
3 - Gonzaga: Best Zags team ever has one loss and it came in overtime at Arizona. Three of the five double-figures scorers are 6-foot-10 or taller and the two leading scorers are three-point marksmen: Kyle Wiltjer (.432) and Kevin Pangos (.455).
4 - Duke: Quinn Cook made three of Duke’s five three-pointers in the final 4:38. And after it was over, I saw another ridiculous online headline: “Duke stuns Virginia.” No, once upon a time, Chaminade stunned Virginia. Duke is too good to “stun” anybody. The Blue Devils lost to a really good team (Notre Dame) and defeated the No. 2 school in the nation. They were not involved in an upset.
Best shot of day from a Duke basketball player came from ESPN’s Jay Bilas. After a Virginia student made a half-court heave to win $18,000, Bilas said, “They can pay the students, but they can’t pay the players.” Bilas also was involved in the best highlight of the day. It was from early in his freshman season. Virginia’s Ralph Sampson, who didn’t appear to be all that close to the hoop, stretched out his arm and threw down a one-handed dunk. Sampson’s hand accidentally caught Bilas’ head on the way down, perhaps slapping this thought into Bilas’ head: “Maybe I should study really hard so that I can get into law school.”
5 - Wisconsin: Bo Ryan knows how to find players. Nigel Hayes, a 6-7, 250-pound sophomore forward from Toledo, keeps the heat off Frank Kaminsky with physical play and he’s plenty skilled. Hayes has five consecutive double-figures scoring games and has four double-doubles this season.
6 - Arizona: Pac-12’s dominant program having little trouble tearing through conference. Since losing by two points in Corvallis, Wildcats have won five in a row by an average margin of 23.8 points, including a 57-34 revenge job against Oregon State. Freshman forward Stanley Johnson leads team in scoring, rebounding and turnovers.
7 - Louisville: Not many teams could shoot .338 from the field, .333 from three and .614 from the line and defeat North Carolina, but the Cardinals aren’t like many teams in that they can ugly up a game like nobody else. Guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones combined for 39 points against the Heels and made 10 of 34 shots from the field. National player of the year candidate Montrezl Harrell was the best player in the game with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
8 - Notre Dame: I didn’t attend either the 77-73 victory against Duke or the 76-72 loss at PIttsburgh, but I’m guessing somebody asked the Irish coach and/or players, “Was this a statement game?” And then when PIttsburgh won at home vs. Notre Dame, I’m guessing the Pittsburgh coach and/or players were asked, “Was this is a statement game?” The only appropriate answer to that silly question is, “No, this was a basketball game.”
9 - Kansas: Good team, fun team, improving team. But No. 1 in the RPI? That tells you all you need to know about the worst computer ranking out there. Still, it’s overused by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. It’s a brilliant scam in which most selection committee members have no clue they are participating. It’s all about the records of teams you play and the record of those teams' opponents. It does not use margin of victory at all. So the key becomes scheduling schools you’re confident you can defeat and are confident they will have a good record. TV loves it because it pressures teams to schedule aggressively in the preseason because that results in quality games for our viewing pleasure and networks' advertising dollars. Anyway, Kansas has become a much tougher team to play, in part because Brannen Greene can’t miss. In his past four games, Greene is 10 for 13 from three. For the season, Greene has made 50 percent from three and 92 percent from the line.
10 - Villanova: ’Cats have chance to avenge 20-point loss when Georgetown visits Saturday.
11 - North Carolina: I don’t want to say Marcus Paige is having similar season to a year ago, but here are some statistical comparisons with his junior year ranked first, sophomore second: Three-point percentage (.390, .389), three-pointers made (2.5, 2.5), assists (4.2, 4.2), blocks (0.2, 0.2), steals (1.4, 1.5), turnovers (2.1, 2.1).
12 - Iowa State: Sophomore point guard Monte Morris has 5.14 assists-to-turnover ratio and shoots .575 from inside the arc. He and KU’s Frank Mason both palyed well in Ames, which adds juice to tonight’s matchup.
13 -Utah: This is how old I am: When I was a kid, losing to UCLA wasn’t a cause for embarrassment. Utes got well against USC, limiting Trojans to 12 first-half points.
14 - West Virginia: When Bob Huggins has a bunch of players willing to do it his way, the result is a beautiful ugliness, not unlike his wardrobe. It’s beautiful that he feels comfortable dressing down and it’s beautiful to watch his team dress down opponents by forcing turnovers on 31.2 percent of their possessions (per kenpom.com), No. 1 in the nation. Calling to mind his great Cincinnati teams, the Mountaineers’ best offense is a missed shot. They rebound 40.9 percent of misses, seventh best in the nation.
15 - Ohio State: Whatever owner has the second pick in the NBA draft should invite Donald Trump to the festivities in the event the owner’s general manager does not select D’Angelo Russell. Imagine the theatric value of Trump firing a GM on live TV. In his past eight games, Russell’s averaging 22.9 points and making 48 percent of his threes (28 of 58). First pick, instead of Duke's Jahlil Okafor, is not out of the question. Russell, a 6-5 freshman guard from Louisville, went for 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assissts in 24-point victory vs. Maryland, which left Marc Loving alone way too often.
16 - Maryland: Starting guards Damonte Dodd and Melo Trimble combined for three points, 0 for 9 shooting, one assist and three turnovers in 40 minutes in Columbus.
17 - Oklahoma: It gets late early with the top 25 these days. Sooners have lost seven games. They have three games in next seven days, starting Tuesday, and two of them are home games vs. ranked teams West Virginia and Iowa State. Big chance for them to show what they’ve got.
18 - Georgetown: Heard Ron Thompson, brother of Hoyas coach John Thompson III, call a game as analyst for the first time over the weekend. Exceptional. Also heard Nick Bahe, former KU walk-on/Creighton scholarship player. Also outstanding. Nothing forced and very good basketball insights from both voices.
19 - Baylor: Bears rebound own misses at nation-leading .433 clip and they start three serious three-point threats in Royce O’Neale (.424), Kenny Cherry (.405) and and Lester Medford (.388) and bring one off the bench, leading scoreer Taurean Prince (405). If they can figure out how to clean up turnovers, they could make a nice NCAA Tournament run.
20 - Virginia Commonwealth: Made just 3 of 20 three-pointers in nine-point loss to Richmond and was outscored by 15 points in second half.
21 - Northern Iowa: Panthers used a 21-3 run late in the first half to carry them to 70-54 blitzing of Wichita State in Cedar Falls. UNI has nine-game winning streak.
22 - Wichita State: When Northern Iowa visits Koch Arena on Feb. 28, might Gregg Marshall remind the Shockers of what Seth Tuttle said after producing career-high 29 points and seven rebounds on them? Marshall might. Tuttle: “We really didn’t talk about beating them by one or two. We talked about coming in here and beating them by 15. That was our mindset.” The loss ended Shockers 27-game regular-season winning streak.
23 - SMU: Larry Brown’s team has won 16 of its last 17 games. Huge week for Mustangs. Cincinnati visits Thursday and then it’s on the road to Tulsa (undefeated in American Conference play) for Saturday game.
24 - Butler: Week featured 20-point blowout of talented Seton Hall and coming back from a 10-point deficit in the final 4:21 of regulation to win in overtime at Marquette.
25 - Texas A&M: Quietly, Aggies residing in second place in SEC and riding six-game winning streak. If they had managed to win double-overtime game vs. Kentucky, they would share first place with the nation’s No. 1 team.
A turnover-free second half in Austin made enough of an impression on Associated Press college basketball voters that Kansas moved up two spots to ninth in the poll released today.
The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 25, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (64) 19-0 1,624 1
- Virginia (1) 19-0 1,561 2
- Gonzaga 20-1 1,476 3
- Duke 17-2 1,402 5
- Wisconsin 18-2 1,351 6
- Arizona 18-2 1,300 7
- Villanova 18-2 1,187 4
- Notre Dame 19-2 1,139 8
- Kansas 16-3 1,120 11
- Louisville 16-3 1,027 10
- Utah 16-3 996 12
- Wichita St. 18-2 893 14
- North Carolina 16-4 878 15
- VCU 16-3 734 16
- Iowa St. 14-4 719 9
- Maryland 18-3 715 13
- West Virginia 16-3 558 18
- N. Iowa 18-2 440 20
- Texas 14-5 431 17
- Baylor 15-4 407 _
- Georgetown 14-5 334 25
- Indiana 15-5 165 23
- Miami 14-5 164 _
- Oklahoma 12-7 90 19
- Butler 15-6 70 _
Others receiving votes: Colorado St. 57, Arkansas 54, Ohio St. 43, SMU 43, Providence 29, Dayton 28, Georgia 28, Stanford 16, Wyoming 14, LSU 10, Seton Hall 10, San Diego St. 4, Texas A&M 2, Tulsa 2, Davidson 1, Green Bay 1, Saint Mary’s (Cal) 1, Stephen F. Austin 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Every time I tune in the radio or turn on the TV, it seems, somebody’s clucking about what’s wrong with the Wildcats or about how Kentucky’s going nowhere unless coach John Calipari turns over the reins to freshman point guard Tyler Ulis and plays him 30 minutes a game. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats take a 19-0 record into Columbia on Thursday night.
2 - Virginia: Smooth 6-foot-6 junior guard Justin Anderson drills three-pointers at a .526 clip and averages 14.1 points.
3 - Gonzaga: The best way to remember how to pronounce the school’s name: It’s the Zags, not the Zogs. Best way to slow down the Zags: Nobody knows.
4 - Duke: Coach 1K’s riding a three-game winning streak, bouncing back from back-to-back losses to North Carolina State and Miami.
5 - Wisconsin: Frank Kaminsky, preseason All-American, is playing up to expectations with 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.7 blocks and a steal per game. Reminds some of former Lakers multi-skilled big man Vlade Divac.
6 - Arizona: Freshman Stanley Johnson leads experienced team in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and seven boards a game.
7 - Louisville: Players steadily improve under Rick Pitino. Case in point: Sophomore guard Terry Rozier. He averaged seven points as a freshman, 12 points in the first six games of this season, 20 points in the past 12.
8 - Notre Dame: Irish are No. 1 in the nation in effective field-goal percentage, which gives 1.5 credits for three-point field goals, compared to two-pointers, and therefore is a far better indicator of shooting efficiency. ND ranks No. 1 in the nation in that category and No. 2 in ball security, turning it over on just 13.8 percent of their possessions, so it’s no surprise kenpom.com calculations rank ND the most efficient offense in the nation.
9 - Kansas: Brannen Greene’s shooting range gives everyone on the court with him more breathing room. Greene made 7 of 9 three-pointers in his past two games, averaging 13 points in 17.5 minutes.
10 - Villanova: Hammered 78-58 by Georgetown in D.C., a chance for revenge comes Feb. 7 in Philly, a must-watch.
11 - Utah: Utes have gone 9-1 since losing to Kansas by three points and all 10 games have been margins of 13 points or greater.
12 - North Carolina: Marcus Paige is shooting better of late, nailing 11 of 21 three-pointers in his past four games.
13 - Iowa State: Texas Tech’s 78-73 home victory vs. Iowa State proves anybody can beat anybody in the Big 12. At least any team that makes 6 of 31 three-pointers can be beaten by any other Big 12 team.
14 - Maryland: Full-court pressure enabled Mark Turgeon’s Terps to come back from an 11-point deficit in final 3:21 to edge Northwestern by a point. The Texas A&M fan base never really got into the habit of calling him Turge, so he’s better off at a school where basketball’s a bigger deal the fans call a Terp a Terp and a Turge a Turge.
15 - Wichita State: Average margin of victory in eight conference games is 16.125.
16 - Miami: Four-point victory vs. Syracuse at Carrier Dome pushed Hurricanes to 4-2 in ACC and only losses were to No. 2 Virginia in double overtime and No. 8 Notre Dame by five points on the road.
17 - Baylor: Rico Gathers played 28 minutes in game against NAIA school Hutson-Tillitson, time enough to score 25 points and gather 28 rebounds.
18 - Georgetown: Here come the Hoyas. First came a 20-point victory vs. Villanova and then 350-pound center Joshua Smith dropped 18 and 15 in overtime victory at Marquette.
19 - Virginia Commonwealth: Rams alone atop Atlantic 10 are 6-0 in league and riding an 11-game winning streak.
20 - Oklahoma: No better indicator of quality of the Big 12 exists than Oklahoma losing four of its past five games. Sooners just as easily could respond by winning four of their next five.
21 - Texas: Size matters, but can be overrated. Longhorns haven’t figure out how to translate length advantage into a lot of hootin' and hollerin' at Erwin Center.
22 - West Virginia: Not a great week for Mountaineers. Hammered 77-50 in Austin and then won by one point in overtime against visiting TCU on a controversial call. Kay Anderson was whistled four fouling Jevon Carter with one second left and Carter made them both.
23 - Ohio State: Buckeyes were eight-point favorites vs. Indiana, yet because Indiana was ranked and Ohio State was not, many called Ohio State’s 82-70 victory Sunday an upset. Absurd.
24 - Providence: Friars won’t have any issues in the quality-victories department come judgment day, aka Selection Sunday. Notre Dame, Miami and Georgetown among their victims.
25 - Northern Iowa: A six-point victory at home vs. Indiana State and a one-point survival at Illinois State made for unimpressive week.
Kansas dropped from ninth to 11th in the Associated Press college basketball poll, released today. Arizona, Notre Dame and Iowa State moved ahead of the Jayhawks and Utah dropped behind them.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 18, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
- Kentucky (63) ‡ 17-0 1,623 1
- Virginia (2) ‡ 17-0 1,562 2
- Gonzaga ‡ 18-1 1,467 3
- Villanova ‡ 17-1 1,429 5
- Duke ‡ 15-2 1,345 4
- Wisconsin ‡ 16-2 1,282 7
- Arizona ‡ 16-2 1,228 10
- Notre Dame ‡ 17-2 1,055 12
- Iowa St. ‡ 13-3 1,004 11
- Louisville ‡ 15-3 1,003 6
- Kansas ‡ 14-3 943 9
- Utah ‡ 14-3 940 8
- Maryland ‡ 17-2 937 14
- Wichita St. ‡ 16-2 857 13
- North Carolina ‡ 14-4 803 15
- VCU ‡ 15-3 670 17
- Texas ‡ 13-4 554 20
- West Virginia ‡ 15-3 501 16
- Oklahoma ‡ 12-5 445 18
- N. Iowa ‡ 16-2 387 23
- Baylor ‡ 13-4 260 22
- Dayton ‡ 15-2 241 _
- Indiana ‡ 14-4 93 _
- Seton Hall ‡ 13-4 91 21
- Iowa ‡ 13-5 85 _
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma St. 47, Miami 41, San Diego St. 34, Georgetown 33, Stanford 31, Saint Mary's (Cal) 18, Providence 17, Colorado St. 16, Arkansas 15, Georgia 13, Butler 11, SMU 11, Michigan St. 8, LSU 6, Old Dominion 5, Wyoming 4, Ohio St. 3, Louisiana Tech 2, Tennessee 2, George Washington 1, St. John's 1, Washington 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Those back-to-back overtime games seem to have scared Wildcats into tuning back in. Hammered Missouri, 86-37, then a decent Alabama team on the road, 70-48.
2 - Virginia: Only 3 of 17 opponents have scored more than 57 points against Cavaliers.
3 - Gonzaga: Three of Zags five top scorers are 6-foot-10 or taller: 6-10 Kyle Wiltjer (16.6), 7-1 Przemek Karnowski (10.6), 6-10 Domantas Sabonis (9.9).
4 - Duke: Excedrin Headache No. 998 – back-to-back losses to Norther Carolina State and Miami after Coach K earned career victory No. 997 at Wake Forest – forced Mike Krzyzewski to reach way out of his comfort zone to use a zone vs. Louisville and it worked, producing a 63-52 victory. Actually, Louisville’s lousy outside shooting prompted the change. Coach K could win No. 1,000 as soon as Sunday at Madison Square Garden against St. John’s.
5 - Wisconsin: Badgers 7-footer returned from concussion that kept him out of loss at Rutgers by scoring 22 points and making 4 of 5 three-pointers vs. Nebraska.
6 - Villanova: It might not get any tougher for the Wildcats in the deep Big East than tonight’s game at Georgetown.
7 - Arizona: The Pac-12 had not had a conference game between top 10 teams in seven years and Arizona left no doubt as to the team to beat, abusing Utah, 69-51. Utes do-it-all guard Delon Wright scored seven points in the first 4:07. With T.J. McConnell hounding him, Wright had just three points the rest of the way.
8 - Louisville: Worst-shooting good team in America: .427 overall, .665 from the line, .294 from three.
9 - Notre Dame: Irish are best shooting team in America. They shoot .401 from three and .610 from two, a blend that adds up to them having an effective field-goal percentage of .607.
10 - Maryland: Turge’s Terps completed season sweep of Michigan State in convincing fashion. They’re ninth-tallest team in nation (per kenpom.com), which has helped them compensate for a lack of experience (No. 257 in nation). They get fouled a lot and make their free throws at a high rate (.755).
11 - Utah: Almost daily, I am asked how I can rank Utes ahead of Kansas when Jayhawks beat them by three points on the, ahem, “neutral” Sprint Center court. My response often results in a change of subject: How can I rate Kansas ahead of Temple?
12 - North Carolina: Heels grab 44.5 percent of their misses, second-best in nation, per kenpom.com, and limit opponents to 27.2 shooting from three, sixth-best.
13 - Iowa State: Sophomore point guard Monte Morris hasn’t found his three-point touch yet (.406 last season, .289 this), but he does have a 5.5-to-1 assists/turnover ratio and he did come three rebounds shy of a triple-double vs. Kansas.
14 - Kansas: In past 10 games, Landen Lucas has played 100 minutes and has more fouls (19) and turnovers (12) than points (11).
15 - Virginia Commonwealth: Coach Shaka Smart set career assists records at his high school (Oregon High in Wisconsin) and college (Kenyon College) and knows how to get his players to practice unselfish basketball. They work well together at both ends, but when they stand alone at the free-throw line, the Rams are among the worst in the nation, making just 62 percent.
16 - Oklahoma: In conference games only, Buddy Hield leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.4) and made three-pointers per game (3.4) and ranks second in three-point percentage (.486), third in field-goal percentage (.552), sixth in free-throw percentage (.840), tied for fifth in offensive rebounds (2.4), tied for seventh in rebounds (seven) and fourth in minutes (35).
17 - Wichita State: Shockers road winning percentage of .827 since 2010-11 is best in nation.
18 - Texas: Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes combined for 35 points in 20-point victory vs. West Virginia. They combined for seven points in 21-point loss to Oklahoma and four points in 11-point loss to Oklahoma State.
19 - Miami: Predictable, Hurricanes are not. Dangerous they are. In span of 25 days, they lost to Eastern Kentucky by 28 points and slammed Duke by 16, which makes Eastern Kentucky 44 points better than Blue Devils. Colonels lost to
East Tennesee State by three points and ETSU lost to UNC Greensboro by one point, making UNCG 48 points better than Duke. So why do I rank Duke fourth and don’t rank UNC Greensboro at all? Because Duke beat Furman by 39 points and Furman beat UNCG by 19, which makes Duke 58 points better than UNCG.
20 - Northern Iowa: If Panthers and Wichita State both can win next three games, UNI will carry eight-game winning streak into Jan. 31 showdown in Cedar Falls, Wichita State a nine-game winning streak.
21 - Baylor: Bears are middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team. Since the difference between top and bottom teams isn’t as great as in most conferences, it stands to reason Baylor should play a lot of close games. Past four games: One-point loss, overtime victory, one-point victory, two-point loss.
22 - West Virginia: Hammered Oklahoma by 21 points, and four days later lost to Texas by 27, which makes UT 48 points better than OU, except that the Sooners beat the Longhorns by 21 points. I’m confused.
23 - Georgetown: If nice guy Joshua Smith demanded the ball more, he would score more and Georgetown would become a better team. As it is, he still has scored in double figures in seven of Hoyas’ last eight games.
24 - Dayton: Tied with VCU for first in Atlantic 10 with 5-0 record. The conference co-leaders don’t meet until Feb. 28 in Richmond.
25 - Michigan State: Just when you think Spartans have it figured out (20-point victory vs. Indiana followed by 14-point triumph at Iowa), they return to mediocrity (overtime victory vs. Northwestern, 16-point loss at Maryland).
After surviving Baylor on the road and thrashing Texas Tech at home, Kansas moved up three spots to No. 9 in the Associated Press college basketball poll. Six of last week's top 10 teams lost, including Texas, which lost twice.
The top 25 teams in the AP college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 11, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv<br>
- Kentucky (63) 15-0 1,623 1
- Virginia (2) 15-0 1,561 3
- Gonzaga 16-1 1,446 6
- Duke 14-1 1,432 2
- Villanova 15-1 1,358 8
- Louisville 14-2 1,264 5
- Wisconsin 15-2 1,200 4
- Utah 13-2 1,185 9
- Kansas 13-2 1,100 12
- Arizona 14-2 1,037 7
- Iowa St. 12-2 922 17
- Notre Dame 15-2 903 13
- Wichita St. 14-2 832 15
- Maryland 15-2 801 11
- North Carolina 12-4 719 18
- West Virginia 14-2 627 14
- VCU 13-3 578 20
- Oklahoma 11-4 485 16
- Arkansas 13-2 431 23
- Texas 12-4 345 10
- Seton Hall 13-3 298 19
- Baylor 12-3 278 21
- N. Iowa 14-2 212 _
- Oklahoma St. 12-3 132 _
- Wyoming 15-2 71 _
Others receiving votes: Ohio St. 70, Michigan St. 67, Dayton 55, Providence 17, Indiana 15, LSU 12, St. John's 10, Alabama 7, Georgetown 7, NC State 6, Green Bay 3, Syracuse 3, Butler 2, Oregon 2, San Diego St. 2, TCU 2, Colorado St. 1, Davidson 1, Hofstra 1, Old Dominion 1, SMU 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: John Calipari plays the college basketball villain well. His team’s quest for an undefeated season has given the vast majority of the nation’s college basketball fans a reason to tune in and that reason is to root against the Wildcats. That’s why the Kennedys just might be more popular than at any time since the ‘60s. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy’s squad took Kentucky to overtime. Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy coached his team into double overtime. The Kennedys lost but a nation of basketball fans thanks them for coming so close.
2 - Virginia: Cavs play with remarkable poise at both ends at home and on the road. They used nine-point run that spanned from 3:48 to 0:03 to win at Notre Dame, 62-56.
3 - Duke: Blue Devils lost in Raleigh to North Carolina State despite 23 points, 12 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals from national player of the year candidate Jahlil Okafor. NC State doubled him throughout the game and he didn’t make them pay with quick recognition and a pass to the open man. Look for that defensive strategy to be duplicated and the adjustment to be made quickly.
4 - Gonzaga: Freshman guard Silas Melson is showing signs of coming on, making the Zags an even deeper team. He had hit just 3 of 16 threes coming into the week’s two road games and he hit 4 of 6. Zags have won five conference games by average of 17 points. It’s possible Gonzaga could enter NCAA Tournament with one loss, in overtime at Arizona.
5 - Louisville: Two shots before the buzzer went off missed and the Cardinals lost by a point at North Carolina, which came back from a 13-point deficit. “It stings as much as any game I’ve coached,” Cards coach Rick Pitino said. “Our players are very hurt by it.”.
6 - Villanova: Daniel Ochefu, a 6-11 junior from Baltimore, had a recent four-game stretch in which he averaged 13.8 points and 14 rebounds. Not bad for a guy who a year ago averaged 5.7 points and 6.1 rebounds.
7 - Utah: Utes are 6-0 since losing to Kansas by three points in the Sprint Center and the victories have come by an average margin of 24 points. Against Pac-12 competition that margin increases to a 27-point average in three games.
8 - Wisconsin: Leading scorer and first-team All-American candidate did not play Sunday at Rutgers and starting guard Traevon Jackson left the game with a leg injury early int eh second half. The Badgers missed them so much they were stunned by the Scarlet Knights, 67-62.
9 - Arizona: Two players in Oregon State basketball history have recorded a triple-double in a game. Gary Payton and Gary Payton II. The nine-time All-Star’s son, a 6-3 junior guard in his first season at his father’s alma mater after two seasons in junior college, did not have a triple-double Sunday night, but he did contribute 10 points and nine rebounds to the Beavers’ upset victory at home vs. Arizona.
10 - Notre Dame: It looks as if Mike Brey’s 15th season in South Bend will be his best. Irish road upset of North Carolina gave them 15 victories, matching last season’s total.
11 - North Carolina: The Tar Heels were favored by three-and-a-half points at home, so their one-point victory vs. Louisville should not be termed an upset.
12 - Kansas: It’s been several days since high school power forward Carlton Bragg committed to Kansas, disappointing Kentucky coach John Calipari. Shockingly, I haven’t seen a single bumper sticker that reads, “Bragg Says No to Braggart.”
13 - Iowa State: Cyclones won close ones against West Virginia and Oklahoma State and would have lost both without such a terrific week from Dustin Hogue, who averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds, made 11 of 14 shots and 4 of 5 threes. He had a huge blocked shot with two seconds left in the Oklahoma Stage game.
14 - Maryland: Terps coach Mark Turgeon hit the road for a pair of Big Ten games, won one and lost one, but didn’t have as good a week as former KU teammate Danny Manning, first-year Wake Forest coach. Wake lost by nine to Louisville and eight to Duke before capping strong week with seven-point victory over Georgia Tech. Devin Thomas, Demon Deacons 6-9 junior forward, is responding well to Manning’s coaching. Thomas averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds in the three games.
15 - Oklahoma: The Sooners slammed Texas by 31 points in Austin and five days later lost in overtime to Kansas State in Norman. Think about that and then think about the eternal mystery of what came first, the chicken or the egg. Alternate thinking about only those two things and see which one drives you nuts first.
16 - West Virginia: Mountaineers are 2-0 on the road in the Big 12 and 0-1 at home, which says more about their opponents (TCU and Texas Tech on the road) and Iowa State in Morgantown.
17 - Wichita State: Shockers aren’t quite as good as last year, but they take good shots, never turn the ball over and have one of the nation’s best backcourts with Fred VanVleet feeding Ron Baker.
18 - VCU: Rams rank ninth in nation, per kenpom.com, with just 15.2 percent of their possessions ending in a turnover. Opponents turn it over on 25.9 percent of possessions, placing Rams fifth in the nation in that category.
19 - Arkansas: Hogs, riding a seven-game winning streak, getting huge production out of 6-11 sophomore Bobby Portis (18.1 points and 17.8 rebounds per game).
20 - Ohio State: As freshman D’Angelo Russell goes, so go the Buckeyes. In 13 victories, he has averaged 19.3 points and shot .537 overall, .556 from three. In four losses, he has averaged 13.5 points, shot .250 overall, .172 from three. The Buckeyes don’t have enough scoring punch to overcome a bad night from Russell.
21 - Seton Hall: Once in a while you hear the term “power five conference,” used in college basketball. That has to stop. It only applies to football. There are six power conferences in basketball and the Big East is one of them.
22 - Oklahoma State: Senior Le’Bryan Nash and junior Phil Forte scored 20 points apiece in an 11-point victory against Texas. Forte averages 17.7 points, Nash 17.6 and ultra-quick point guard Anthony Hickey, a three-year starter for LSU, creates opportunities for both scorers.
23 - Baylor: To watch Rico Gathers, generally listed at 6-8, is to wonder if the NFL could find a place for him. The 280-pound junior averages a double-double (10.1, 11.3).
24 - Northern Iowa: You think UNI, you think three-point shooters, but these Panthers can defend. Drake made just three field goals in the entire second half in Saturday’s 64-40 loss.
25 - Alabama: Crimson Tide head into South Carolina for a Tuesday night game with a 2-0 record (Texas A&M, at Tennessee) and average margin of victory of 19.5 points.
In the wake of a 77-52 road loss to Temple, Kansas dropped from 10th to 13th in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday. Six of the 10 Big 12 schools are ranked in the top 25, with Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech being the lone exceptions. TCU remained undefeated but dropped from 25th to first among others receiving votes. Georgetown's overtime victory against Indiana vaulted the Hoyas past the Horned Frogs and into the No. 25 slot.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 16, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (65) 13-0 1,625 1
- Duke 10-0 1,559 2
- Virginia 11-0 1,457 5
- Wisconsin 12-1 1,395 6
- Louisville 11-1 1,327 4
- Villanova 12-0 1,316 7
- Gonzaga 12-1 1,249 8
- Arizona 12-1 1,243 3
- Iowa St. 9-1 1,005 12
- Utah 9-2 956 14
- Texas 10-2 903 9
- Maryland 12-1 869 15
- Kansas 9-2 775 10
- Notre Dame 12-1 709 16
- St. John's 11-1 690 17
- Wichita St. 10-2 630 11
- West Virginia 11-1 584 18
- Oklahoma 8-3 530 19
- North Carolina 9-3 483 20
- Ohio St. 11-2 435 21
- Washington 11-1 253 13
- Baylor 10-1 238 22
- N. Iowa 11-1 216 23
- Colorado St. 13-0 194 24
- Georgetown 8-3 140 _
Others receiving votes: TCU 132, VCU 101, San Diego St. 40, Arkansas 27, George Washington 7, LSU 7, Old Dominion 7, Penn St. 5, UNLV 5, Indiana 4, Florida 2, Minnesota 2, Stanford 2, Army 1, California 1, Davidson 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Defense doesn’t hit slumps to the extent offense does, one reason to believe John Calipari’s team loaded with nine McDonald’s All-Americans can run the table. Backed by the home crowd, Louisville managed just one assist and shot just .259 in an eight-point loss to the Wildcats.
2 - Duke: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Connecticut all lost to the Blue Devils by 10 points, the smallest margins of victory for undefeated Duke. Freshman point guard Tyus Jones has averaged 20 points, four rebounds, 3.8 assists and shot .593 in those three games. His averages in the other seven games: 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and .351 shooting. Those numbers suggest that the more Jones shoots, the better he shoots. It also suggests that he only shoots a lot when he senses his team needs another scorer. In short, he has a perfect point-guard mentality and plays well in the clutch.
3 - Virginia: The Cavaliers have allowed more than 57 points in a game once, in a 76-65 victory against Maryland, which shot 40 percent from the field in the loss.
4 - Wisconsin: The Badgers played two games and won both, at California and at home vs. Buffalo, by a 68-56 score. The Buffalo victory came on the one-month anniversary of a 69-56 victory vs. Oklahoma. The Badgers are nothing if not consistent.
5 - Louisville: Coaches named Pitino are 22-3. Father Rick is 11-1 and son Richard is 11-2 with Minnesota and one of his losses came to his father.
6 - Arizona: Not many schools can hang with Sean Miller’s team in the paint, but UNLV was able to pull off the four-point upset by dominating the boards, 46-33. Vegas sophomore Christian Wood (24 points, 10 rebounds) produced one of his eight double-doubles. Rebels freshman Goodluck Okonoboh of Woburn, Mass., had nine rebounds, compared to three for Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski. With a first name like that, Okonoboh was destined to make his way to Las Vegas eventually.
7 - Gonzaga: Kenpom.com ranks Bulldogs second-most efficient offensive team in nation, behind only Duke, and third-tallest team behind just Kentucky and Florida State.
8 - Villanova: Playing without leading scorer Darrun Hilliard, ‘Nova trailed giant-killer N.J.I.T. by three at halftime, but won the second half by 28 points. Villanova coach Jay Wright said he doesn’t expect Hilliard (concussion) to miss any more time.
9 - Maryland: Terps went 6-1 without senior forward Dez Wells (15.2 points per game). Now that he’s back, Terps are even deeper, better.
10 - Texas: Center Cameron Ridley, not the player he was last season as a sophomore, had another lackluster performance in overtime home loss to Stanford. He blocked four shots in 17 minutes, but contributed just six points and three rebounds.
11 - Iowa State: Georges Niang, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound bundle of basketball skill, shoots .509 overall, .394 from three and .880 from the line. He averages 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He’s a scoring and passing threat on the perimeter and interior. He’s good.
12 - Utah: Crafty, quick guard Delon Wright averaging 19.3 points in last seven games, 16.4 points on the season.
13 - North Carolina: Coach Roy Williams was nice enough to schedule a home-and-home with UAB, coached by his former Kansas sharp-shooter Jerod Haase, who thanked him last December with a big upset victory. Williams paid him back Saturday with an 89-58 rout in Chapel Hill.
14 - Kansas: Shooting percentages of KU’s four McDonald’s All-Americans: Wayne Selden .347, Perry Ellis .406, Kelly Oubre .457, Cliff Alexander .531.
15 - St. John’s: Fortunately, Nigerian center Chris Obekpa’s retro fashion statement has not triggered a national trend. Obekpa wears short shorts that call to mind a bygone era. Actually, he has said the decision to go short is not fashion-based. He said he wears short shorts because when the long ones become sweaty, they grow heavy.
16 - Oklahoma: Sooners set an NCAA-record with 39 consecutive points in 85-51 rout Monday of Weber State. The run gave Oklahoma a 49-4 lead late in the first half.
17 - Ohio State: It’s always a good thing when the Buckeyes allow 55 points in a game, as they did twice last week. Their scoring totals in four games in which the opponent scored 55 points: 92, 97, 93, 100.
18 - Wichita State: In a 60-54 loss to George Washington in the title game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Shockers guard Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker combined to make 8 of 27 field goals, 4 of 13 threes.
19 - Notre Dame: Only loss for Fighting Irish came by one point to Providence in November. That’s impressive, even if ND’s schedule has not been.
20 - West Virginia: Big 12 preseason Player of the Year Juwan Staten heating up after a statistically so-so start to the season. Had 24 points vs. North Carolina State and followed it up with a 17-point, 10-rebound effort against Wofford.
21 - Washington: Home game, up 16 points against Stony Brook. Yogi Berra, who knows it ain’t over until it’s over, might have been the only one still watching. The Seawolves, who had lost six times, including to Hofstra and Canisius, came back to win Sunday night, 62-57. Stony Brook finished the game on a 17-2 run. Stony Brook, on the north shore of Long Island, competes in the America East Conference and never had a victory that could compare with giving the Huskies their first loss.
22 - Virginia Commonwealth: In three games since edging Northern Iowa in overtime, Rams have won by an average margin of 24 points vs. Belmont, Cincinnati and East Tennessee State.
23 - Baylor: Taurean Prince, a 6-7 junior, leads Bears in scoring (11.4) and three-point percentage (571) but scored just seven points in past two games and made 2 of 11 field goals. Red-shirt freshman Johnathan Motley has picked up the slack, averaging 19 points in Bears last three games.
24 - Northern Iowa: Whatever became of Ali Farokhmanesh? Glad you asked. He played professionally overseas (Switzerland, Austria, Holland) for four seasons and is in his first year as a graduate manager on the staff of Nebraska coach Tim Miles. Teddy Owens, son of former KU coach Ted Owens, is in his second season working for the same staff as director of basketball operations.
25 - TCU: Horned Frogs finished last season on a 19-game losing streak, all against Big 12 schools. They opened this season with 12 consecutive victories, none against Big 12 competition.
Guessing which junior-college signees will contribute the most to the program is too inexact to call it a science, but searching for little clues along the way can help make guesses more accurate than putting the names in a hat and drawing them randomly.
A guess at ranking the value of the eight mid-season, junior-college signees who will join the Kansas University football program for the second semester and participate in new head coach Dave Beaty's first spring footballcamp:
1 - M.J. Mathis, 6-2, 205: A former Kentucky commitment, Mathis was recruited by Dave Campo and re-recruited by David Beaty and staff. He has strong coverage skills, hits like a linebacker and is built like an NFL defensive back.
2 - Brandon Stewart, 5-11, 175: The fact he committed to California and then changed his mind bodes well for his chances at KU in two areas. First, he must be a pretty good football player if Cal wanted him. Second, he must have his academic house in order or Cal wouldn’t have looked twice at him.
3 - Ke’aun Kinner, 5-9, 185: What can I say, I’m a sucker for running back highlight videos set to music. As a senior in high school at Little Elm, a 4A school just north of Dallas, he had single-game rushing yardage totals of 432, 345, 343, 339 and 332.
4 - Bazie Bates IV, 6-1, 195: Hard-hitting cornerback/safety looks on video like a guy who really enjoys playing football, which can’t be a bad thing.
5 - Will Smith, 6-4, 315, OL: Fromer Shawnee Mission Northwest behemoth looks to have a shot at winning a starting job with a strong spring.
6 - Jacky Dezir, 6-3, 305: His highlights show a player who never quits on a play and is rewarded by making plays on the opposite side of the field. Then again, that’s why they’re called highlights.
7 - De’Andre Banks, 6-3, 325: One of three players from Trinity Valley CC in Athens, Texas, to enroll at mid-year, joining Stewart and Bates.
8 - Jayson Rhodes, 6-4, 310: A last-minute addition when another lineman backed out of his commitment, Rhodes received just one other offer, from UT-San Antonio.