After a weekend in which there were five matchups between ranked teams, highlighted by Duke’s win at Virginia and capped off by Houston’s win over Cincinnati, the latest AP Top 25 poll was released Monday.
Two teams split the first-place votes and seven different conferences are represented in the top 10 of the AP poll.
Here are our reactions to the latest poll.
Tennessee is still No. 1
Duke was ranked No. 2 last week, traveled to No. 3 Virginia and won by double digits, and the Blue Devils stayed at No. 2 in the latest AP Top 25 poll. That’s because Tennessee has won 18 games in a row and hasn’t lost in regulation this season.
The Volunteers received 40 of the 64 first-place votes with the Blue Devils receiving the other 24 and just 19 total votes separated the two schools. It’s a testament to Tennessee’s record, consistent double-digit wins (it hasn’t won a game by less than 10 points since January 23) and pair of All-American candidates in Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield that Duke could play one of its best games of the year on the road against a top-3 opponent on primetime TV and it still wasn’t enough to reclaim the top ranking.
Houston cracks the top 10
There’s a chance that Houston caught some casual college basketball fans by surprise when the Cougars were revealed as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee’s No. 11 team on CBS during the Bracket Preview Show. They followed that up with a win over No. 25 Cincinnati to improve to 23-1.
On Monday, Houston was rewarded with a three-spot jump to No. 9 in the AP Top 25.
It’s the school’s highest ranking since the 1984 season, when Houston – led by Hakeem Olajuwon and three other future NBA players – lost in the national championship to Georgetown.
The Cougars are projected to finish the regular season 29-2, according to kenpom.com, and they could be in contention for a No. 2 seed.
Sunday’s game between Houston and Cincinnati was the first ranked matchup in the conference all season, so there are admittedly fewer high-profile games than other high-major conferences but the Cougars are deserving of a mention in the second tier of teams behind Tennessee, Duke, Gonzaga and Virginia, as shown by their latest AP ranking.
Virginia Tech plummets
There weren’t many major changes in the latest AP Top 25 poll. Eight teams moved just one spot up or down. Six others had a change of two or three positions.
But Virginia Tech dropped 11 spots to No. 22, which was by far the biggest change from last week.
In 13 of the previous 14 AP polls, the Hokies were ranked in the top 15 and they spent five consecutive weeks ranked in the top 10.
But an 0-2 week with losses at home to Louisville and on the road against Clemson was the breaking point for AP poll voters. Virginia Tech’s 18-5 record is impressive but you could make the case the Hokies’ resume hasn’t been quite as strong as their record and ranking in advanced metrics.
Losing senior guard Justin Robinson indefinitely to an injury (he was seen wearing a walking boot on his left foot) certainly hasn’t helped as Virginia Tech has had to essentially play a six-man rotation in his absence. The Hokies are on the doorstep of locking up an at-large bid but they’re not the top-10 team – at least without Robinson – that the AP poll suggested they were earlier this season.