Predicting the College Basketball AP Top 25 Poll for Week 10

Seven ranked teams lost this weekend, including three in the top 10 and three to unranked opponents. Top-10 teams Michigan, Virginia and Michigan State each beat a ranked opponent on Saturday or Sunday to add to their already impressive resumes, while Kansas, Nevada and Kentucky each lost to an unranked opponent on the road, showing the perils of conference play.

Here’s how we predict the college basketball AP Top 25 poll will look in Week 10.

 

1. Duke (12-1): The Blue Devils won their ACC opener over Clemson after more than two weeks off. Zion Williamson scored a game-high 25 points after making all eight of his attempts inside the arc, plus one three-pointer and 6-of-9 free throws. Duke forced 18 turnovers, including 13 steals, so while this team is electrifying in transition and extremely efficient on two-point attempts, it’s just as efficient defensively.

The Blue Devils play at Wake Forest and Florida State this week.

 

2. Michigan (15-0): The Wolverines are now just one of two Big Ten teams that are undefeated in conference play after they handed No. 21 Indiana a 74-63 loss in Ann Arbor on Sunday. Michigan jumped out to a 30-13 lead in the opening 10 minutes as Indiana’s Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford both picked up two quick fouls. The Wolverines committed just three turnovers, they won by double digits despite a 4-of-16 three-point shooting performance and freshman Brandon Johns (eight points, eight rebounds) filled in nicely for the injured Isaiah Livers.

 

3. Tennessee (12-1): The Volunteers throttled Georgia in their SEC opener to the tune of 96-50. The Bulldogs might challenge South Carolina and Texas A&M for last place in the conference but the Volunteers winning by nearly 50 confirms what we already knew about Tennessee: it’s as good as anyone in the country. The Vols will play at Missouri and Florida this week.

 

4. Virginia (13-0): Somehow the Cavaliers have flown under the radar through the first two months of the season. Wins like their 65-52 victory over No. 9 Florida State on Saturday will change that. Junior Kyle Guy caught fire from three-point range, making five-of-six threes as he scored a game-high 21. The Seminoles didn’t have a single double-figure scorer.

 

5. Gonzaga (14-2): The Zags coasted in their WCC opener – a 91-48 win over Santa Clara, which is to be expected against an opponent that’s ranked No. 201 in kenpom.com as of Sunday night. Gonzaga is finally healthy with the return of guard Geno Crandall and forward Killian Tillie, which means that we likely haven’t yet seen the best of the Bulldogs.

 

6. Kansas (12-2): The Jayhawks dropped their second game in their last four, both of which came on the road, as Iowa State defeated Kansas 77-60. It’s not time to press the panic button on Kansas continuing its Big 12 regular season title streak but the game showed just how tough it is to win road games in the conference.

The bigger concern is how the Jayhawks will adapt after starting center Udoka Azubuike was ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a torn ligament in his right hand. Kansas hosts TCU on Wednesday before traveling to Baylor for a game Saturday.

 

7. Michigan State (13-2): You could argue the Spartans picked up a bit of a statement win against No. 14 Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday, when Michigan State won by nine without Joshua Langford. The Spartans are ranked No. 4 in kenpom.com, the highest ranking of any Big Ten team, and they’re poised to contend for the conference’s regular season title.

 

8. Virginia Tech (13-1): The Hokies arguably lack a marquee win this season – a neutral-site win over Purdue in November is probably their best to date – but they have the nation’s fourth-most efficient offense, the best effective field goal percentage in the country, a really impressive record and they’re only a one-point loss at Penn State from being undefeated. Three of their next four games are on the road, including trips to Virginia and North Carolina, so Virginia Tech will soon get the chance to prove itself as a top-10 team, like kenpom.com believes it is.

 

9. Nevada (14-1): The Wolf Pack were arguably the best bet to be the last remaining undefeated team in the country because of its conference affiliation but Nevada lost 85-58 at New Mexico on Saturday night. Nevada should still be the favorite in the Mountain West but Eric Musselman’s squad was thoroughly outplayed in Dreamstyle Arena, where New Mexico won the rebounding battle by 10, made seven more threes, took better care of the ball and averaged almost .40 more points per possession.

 

10. Texas Tech (13-1): The Red Raiders are 2-0 in Big 12 play, which is something only three teams in the conference can claim after Saturday. They won at West Virginia and defeated Kansas State at home. Their schedule gets tougher this week: at home against Oklahoma and at Texas.

 

11. Florida State (12-2): There’s no shame in losing at Virginia, which might be the best team in the country, but Florida State really struggled in Charlottesville on Saturday. The Seminoles averaged just 0.83 points per possession, shot 42.9 percent inside the arc and 26.1 percent behind it, and they had nearly twice as many turnovers (15) as assists (eight).

They have a major opportunity next Saturday when they host Duke in Tallahassee.

 

12. Auburn (11-2): The Tigers haven’t played since Dec. 29 and they’ll open SEC play at Ole Miss on Wednesday. Auburn has a fairly favorable schedule to start conference play with games at home against Georgia and at Texas A&M before hosting Kentucky. If Auburn is going to win at least a share of the SEC regular season again this season, a 4-0 start is reasonable, if not the expectation.

 

13. North Carolina (11-3): The computers like the Tar Heels better than the AP poll voters do. North Carolina ranks sixth on kenpom.com with a top-10 offense and top-15 defense but the Tar Heels fell out of the top 10 in the AP Top 25 after losing to Kentucky. All things considered, North Carolina should be pleased with its schedule to open ACC play. After beating Pitt in its opener, UNC travels to NC State, then hosts Louisville and Notre Dame.

The Tar Heels aren’t projected to lose until Feb. 20 at Duke, per kenpom.com.

 

14. Mississippi State (12-1): The Bulldogs will enter SEC play with a 12-1 record for the second year in a row. However, Mississippi State’s non-conference wins this season are considerably better. Its best non-conference win last season was against Stephen F. Austin (No. 112 on kenpom.com) and it had seven victories against opponents ranked outside of the top 200. This season it has six wins against opponents ranked in the top 100 on kenpom.com, including three over top-50 opponents.

 

15. NC State (13-1): The Wolfpack are another under-the-radar team in the ACC, considering they share a conference with No. 1 Duke, the ever-elite Virginia Cavaliers and North Carolina. But in Year 2 of the Kevin Keatts era, NC State only suffered one loss in non-conference play – a four-point loss at Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge – and it kicked off ACC play with a road win at Miami (FL).

NC State hosts North Carolina on Tuesday.

 

16. Houston (14-0): The Cougars are one of just three undefeated teams in the country and they aren’t projected to lose until Feb. 7 at UCF, according to kenpom.com. After Cincinnati’s loss at East Carolina, Houston should be considered one of the top two contenders to win the AAC. The Cougars have six wins over opponents that are ranked in the top 100 on kenpom.com.

 

17. Ohio State (12-2): The Buckeyes let an opportunity to beat a top-10 opponent slip through their grasp on Saturday as Michigan State won in Columbus 86-77. Next up is a manageable two-game road trip to Rutgers and Iowa.

 

18. Kentucky (10-3): The Wildcats dropped their SEC opener at Alabama in the latest chapter of an up-and-down season for Kentucky. Losses to Duke and Seton Hall were followed by wins over North Carolina and Louisville. Kentucky’s last two losses were both away from home by a combined three points, so the Wildcats could be 12-1 in an alternate universe but right now they appear to be playing for third in the SEC behind Tennessee and Auburn.

 

19. Marquette (12-3): The Golden Eagles split their first two Big East games with a 20-point loss at St. John’s followed by an 18-point win over Xavier at home. The Big East title could be there for the taking in what appears to be a down season for Villanova (compared to the standards it has established in the last five years) and reigning Big East regular season champion Xavier but Marquette’s blowout losses on the road to seemingly comparable teams (Indiana, St. John’s) could suggest this isn’t the year for the Golden Eagles to claim the conference title.

 

20. Buffalo (13-1): The Bulls could reasonably stay in the AP Top 25 for the rest of the season. They beat Eastern Michigan in their MAC opener and kenpom.com projects Buffalo to win each of its remaining regular season games on an individual matchup basis. Buffalo has assembled the non-conference resume to potentially build a strong at-large resume if it doesn’t win the MAC’s auto-bid.

 

21. Oklahoma (12-2): The Sooners dropped their Big 12 opener at Kansas 70-63 and bounced back to beat Oklahoma State by 10 on Saturday. Despite losing Trae Young after last season, Oklahoma is projected to have a better record this season thanks to the country’s sixth-most efficient defense.

 

22. Iowa State (12-2): The Cyclones are 2-0 in Big 12 play after beating Kansas 77-60 on Saturday. Iowa State has now won five straight games, it’s ranked in the top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency and it has enjoyed the return of sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton, the team’s leading scorer last season who recently returned from injury.

 

23. St. John’s (14-1): After a two-point loss at Seton Hall in its Big East opener, St. John’s bounced back with its biggest win of the season – an 89-69 dismantling of No. 16 Marquette. The Red Storm then survived an overtime scare at Georgetown, setting up an important road game at Villanova on Tuesday.

 

24. Indiana (12-3): A rough start at No. 2 Michigan doomed Indiana on Sunday as its best two players Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford quickly picked up two fouls apiece and the Wolverines led by as many as 19 in the first half. Led by Morgan’s 25 points and eight rebounds, the Hoosiers scrapped back to outscore the Wolverines after halftime but beating Michigan in Ann Arbor was too much to ask after a slow start.

 

25. Iowa (12-3): The Hawkeyes got a much-needed, 93-84 win over No. 24 Nebraska in Iowa City on Sunday to avoid an 0-4 start in Big Ten play. Jordan Bohannon scored a game-high 25 points with five threes and a perfect 10-of-10 mark from the free throw line.

Iowa will need to capitalize on its upcoming four-game stretch against Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois before it plays Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana in its next four.

 

Dropped out of rankings: No. 22 Wisconsin, No. 24 Nebraska