The most notable result from Week 15 in college basketball was Kentucky’s dominant performance in an 86-69 win over No. 1 Tennessee, which gave the Volunteers their first loss since late November. Tennessee earned the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll in each of the last four weeks so we’ll almost certainly get a new team atop the poll Monday.
Here’s how we predict the college basketball AP Top 25 poll will look in Week 16.
1. Duke (23-2): The Blue Devils have won nine in a row, including an epic comeback at Louisville Tuesday, followed by their ninth double-digit victory in ACC play Saturday against NC State. Duke hosts North Carolina Wednesday, then plays at Syracuse Saturday as it’ll seek revenge for its last loss – 95-91 in overtime against the Orange on January 14.
2. Gonzaga (25-2): The ‘Zags are four games away from a perfect record in conference play after a pair of road wins over Pepperdine and BYU last week. Gonzaga has a 76.4 percent chance of going 16-0 in the WCC, according to kenpom.com, and if the Bulldogs don’t lost again before Selection Sunday, they’ll almost certainly get a No. 1 seed.
3. Virginia (22-2): The Cavaliers responded to their second loss to Duke with a win at North Carolina and they survived a too-close-for-comfort game Saturday against a Notre Dame team that’s barely above .500. Virginia is 22-0 against non-Duke opponents and it has a big week ahead with road games at Virginia Tech and Louisville.
4. Kentucky (21-4): The Wildcats played their best game of the season to pick up their bet win of the season against No. 1 Tennessee. Kentucky lost at the buzzer to LSU earlier in the week, which might get overlooked because of its most recent win, so the ‘Cats may not improve from their No. 5 ranking from last week.
5. Tennessee (23-2): The Volunteers finally met their match Saturday as they lost 86-69 at Kentucky. It was their first loss in regulation this season and we’ll learn a lot about Tennessee in the next few weeks as it plays LSU, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Auburn to close the season.
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6. Nevada (24-1): The Wolf Pack only played one game last week, an 82-49 win at Wyoming. With just six regular season games left, a road game at Utah State on March 2 is probably Nevada’s toughest test until the NCAA tournament.
7. Houston (25-1): The Cougars won a pair of road games since last week’s AP poll was released. They won 71-63 at UConn Thursday behind Dejon Jarreau’s 18 points off the bench, then Armoni Brooks and Corey Davis combined for 50 points in an 85-50 win against Tulane Sunday.
8. North Carolina (20-5): The Tar Heels lost 69-61 to Virginia Monday, which ended their seven-game winning streak. They bounced back emphatically with a 95-57 win at Wake Forest Saturday, behind Cameron Johnson’s 27 points on 7-of-10 three-point shooting. North Carolina plays at Duke in a huge clash Wednesday.
9. Michigan (23-3): The Wolverines are 6-3 in their last nine games after starting the season 17-0. Their latest loss was their worst of the season – a 75-69 defeat Tuesday at Penn State, which had just one Big Ten win before the game. Michigan hosts Michigan State next Sunday in a game with major Big Ten regular season title implications.
10. Marquette (21-4): The Golden Eagles won their only game last week – a 92-73 defeat at DePaul. After Villanova’s loss to St. John’s on Sunday, Marquette is just a half-game back in the Big East standings.
11. Michigan State (21-5): The Spartans appear to have put their three-game skid behind them with a three-game winning streak that included wins over Wisconsin on the road and Ohio State at home since the release of the last AP poll. However, junior big man Nick Ward is out indefinitely after suffering a hairline fracture in his left hand against the Buckeyes Sunday.
12. Kansas (20-6): The Jayhawks have won three games in a row for the first time since January 14. They won at TCU last Monday in overtime for their first road win since January 12, then they handled West Virginia Saturday in a 78-53 win. Kansas doesn’t play again until it plays on the road Saturday at Texas Tech.
13. Texas Tech (21-5): The Red Raiders will take a four-game winning streak into Saturday, when they host Kansas. With its next two games at home, Texas Tech has a great opportunity to try to erase Kansas State’s half-game lead in the Big 12.
14. LSU (21-4): The Tigers have had a monumental last two weeks with four wins, including victories over Mississippi State, Auburn and Kentucky. They may have benefited from basket interference in their win over the Wildcats last Tuesday but it counts just like any other win and LSU now shares the SEC lead with Tennessee.
15. Purdue (18-7): The Boilermakers’ eight-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday at Maryland but Purdue can still win at least a share of the Big Ten, if not an outright regular season title. The Boilermakers are 11-3 and a half-game back of Michigan State and Michigan with six games to play.
16. Villanova (20-6): After a program-best 10-0 start in Big East play, Villanova has now lost two of its last three games after falling 71-65 at St. John’s Sunday. The Wildcats scored just 0.93 points per possession in the loss after committing 16 turnovers and making just 11-of-35 threes.
17. Florida State (20-5): The Seminoles are currently streaking in the ACC, having won their last seven games. Their wins last week over Wake Forest and Georgia Tech may not have moved the needle much but games this week against Clemson and North Carolina will.
18. Iowa State (19-6): After a puzzling 92-83 home loss to TCU on February 9, Iowa State bounced back with a huge road win at Kansas State last Saturday. The Cyclones are now just one game back of the Wildcats in the Big 12 and there’s a projected four-way tie for the regular season title, according to kenpom.com. Next up is a home game against fifth-place Baylor on Tuesday.
19. Louisville (18-8): The Cardinals narrowly avoided a second consecutive home collapse last week as they held off Clemson 56-55 after allowing Duke to make an epic comeback on Tuesday. Louisville plays at Syracuse on Wednesday as the Cardinals try to maintain their top-four projected seed from the Bracket Preview Show.
20. Kansas State (19-6): The Wildcats saw their lead in the Big 12 dwindle to a half-game after losing at home to Iowa State. If forward Dean Wade misses any time, Kansas State will likely have trouble winning a share of the conference title, much less an outright regular season championship.
21. Iowa (20-5): The Hawkeyes very easily could’ve gone 0-2 last week with a home loss to Northwestern and a road loss to Rutgers, which collectively could’ve dropped Iowa a seed line in March. However, thanks to back-to-back game-winning threes from Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp, respectively, Iowa won both and will take a four-game winning streak into a home game against Maryland Tuesday. The Hawkeyes are the third Big Ten team to reach 20 wins.
22. Wisconsin (17-8): The Badgers lost their only game last week, a 67-59 home loss to Michigan State. Wisconsin now looks to end its two-game losing streak at home against Illinois on Monday but that game will be more competitive than it may have appeared to be two months ago. The Fighting Illini have won four in a row and six of their last nine.
23. Virginia Tech (20-5): The Hokies followed up an 0-2 week two weeks ago with a 2-0 week last week. Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech at home and Pitt on the road, which puts the Hokies in a tie for fourth place in the ACC with Louisville. They have a massive opportunity Monday night against Virginia.
24. Maryland (19-7): The Terrapins split their games last week, beating Purdue 70-56 at home Tuesday before losing 65-52 at Michigan on Saturday. All in all, that’s a productive week against two teams that were featured in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee’s top-16 seed reveal. The Terps play at Iowa Tuesday.
25. Buffalo (22-3): The Bulls won a pair of road games last week at Akron and Toledo to improve to 10-2 in MAC play. Buffalo hosts Ohio and Kent State this week, and if it can win its final six regular season games, the Bulls should both stay in the AP Top 25 for the rest of the season and keep their at-large hopes intact.