Fourteen ranked teams lost since the release of the last AP Top 25 poll, including No. 3 Duke at Virginia Tech. No. 1 Gonzaga finished conference play with an undefeated conference record, as did Wofford.
Here’s how we predict the college basketball AP Top 25 poll to look like in Week 18.
1. Gonzaga (29-2): The ‘Zags completed their undefeated regular season run through the West Coast Conference with a 69-55 win over St. Mary’s Saturday, marking their first perfect record in conference play since 2013, when they entered Selection Sunday at 31-2 and earned a No. 1 seed.
This year’s Bulldogs team has the opportunity to do the same but the 2019 ‘Zags have an adjusted efficiency margin (meaning by how many points they outscore their opponents on average per 100 possessions) that is almost eight points higher.
2. Virginia (26-2): The Cavaliers coasted through what was arguably their easiest week of ACC play with an 81-51 home win over Georgia Tech, followed by a 73-49 home win over Pittsburgh. Their final two games of the regular season will be tougher, but still manageable for a team that has only lost to Duke this season. Virginia travels to Syracuse for a game Monday, then returns home to host Louisville Saturday.
3. North Carolina (24-5): The Tar Heels are tied for first in the ACC with Virginia heading into the final week of the regular season. North Carolina has won five in a row since losing to Virginia on February 11 and it can earn at least a share of the regular season title if it beats Boston College on the road Tuesday and Duke at home next Saturday. The Tar Heels are trending toward a No. 1 seed but that’ll be determined in the ACC Tournament with Virginia and Duke also contending for the top seed line.
4. Duke (25-4): Zion Williamson has missed three straight games since leaving Duke’s game against North Carolina with a knee sprain. If you include the game against the Tar Heels in which Williamson left early in the first half, Duke is 2-2 without the frontrunner for National Player of the Year after the Blue Devils’ loss at Virginia Tech on Tuesday. They’ll hope he returns Saturday for Duke’s clash with North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
5. Kentucky (24-5): The Wildcats got their lunch handed to them by Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday. Kentucky no longer controls its own destiny in terms of the SEC regular season title race, where it trails LSU and Tennessee by one game with two games to play, but don’t write off the Wildcats based on their latest loss. Reid Travis was sidelined with an injury, plus Kentucky and Tennessee have both proven they’re on the short list of the best teams in the country. Each is capable of embarrassing the other on their respective home floors.
Let’s home we get a tiebreaker game between the ‘Cats and Vols in the SEC Tournament.
[RELATED: How Concerning is Duke’s 3-Point Shooting?]
6. Tennessee (26-3): The Volunteers got revenge against Kentucky Saturday to the tune of a 71-52 win thanks to Jordan Bone’s career-high 27 points and another standout performance from reigning SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams. Reasonable minds can disagree whether Tennessee or Kentucky should be ranked higher in the AP Top 25.
The Vols rank one place higher than the Wildcats on kenpom.com, in the NET rankings and in the SEC standings.
7. Michigan (26-4): The Wolverines went 2-0 last week, including a 69-62 win at No. 17 Maryland Sunday, without Charles Matthews. Michigan is just a half-game behind Purdue in the Big Ten standings with only one regular season game remaining. That comes next Saturday at Michigan State. Purdue has two road games left, for the record.
Michigan has won the last two Big Ten Tournament titles so a No. 1 seed is still on the table for the Wolverines if they win out.
8. Purdue (22-7): The Boilermakers control their own destiny in the Big Ten after beating Illinois and Ohio State at home last week by a combined 52 points. If they beat Minnesota and Northwestern on the road this week, the Big Ten regular season title is theirs and theirs alone.
Purdue is currently projected to earn a No. 3 seed, according to Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections, and a No. 2 seed isn’t out of the question. Not bad for a team that started the season 6-5.
9. LSU (24-5): If the Tigers can win at Florida on Wednesday, then beat Vanderbilt at home Saturday, then they’ll win at least a share of the SEC regular season title. They currently share the conference lead with Tennessee after LSU defeated Texas A&M and Alabama last week.
LSU hasn’t won a regular season conference championship since 2009.
10. Texas Tech (24-5): Along with Kansas State, Texas Tech is projected to finish atop the Big 12 standings with a 13-5 record, one game ahead of Kansas, according to kenpom.com. If that holds true, the Red Raiders will jointly, or potentially solely, be responsible for ending The Streak. That alone deserves a shoutout.
Texas Tech survived Oklahoma State’s 17-of-32 onslaught from 3-point range to beat the Cowboys 84-40 in overtime last Wednesday and the Red Raiders extended their winning streak to seven games with an 81-66 road win at TCU on Saturday. If they can beat Texas at home and Iowa State on the road this week, they’ll win at least a share of the Big 12 title.
11. Michigan State (23-6): The Spartans lost their only game of the week, a 63-62, Nick Ward-less loss at Indiana, which breathed life back into the Hoosiers’ at-large hopes. The game may have cost Michigan State a chance of at least sharing the Big Ten regular season title as the Spartans now trail Purdue by one game with two to play.
12. Houston (27-2): The Cougars’ 33-game home winning streak finally came to an end Saturday as UCF won 69-64 in Houston. There’s now a tie for first place in the AAC between Houston and Cincinnati, and the two schools meet on the latter’s home court on Saturday, where an outright regular season title will likely be on the line.
13. Florida State (23-6): The Seminoles took care of business at home last week, defeating Notre Dame and NC State to improve to 11-5 in the ACC. They’re firmly in the ACC’s second tier, behind the conference’s No. 1 seed hopefuls of Virginia, North Carolina and Duke.
14. Kansas (22-7): The Jayhawks won both of their games last week, most importantly a 64-49 win over Kansas State, but they’re still a game back of the Wildcats and Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings with two games to play. Kansas finishes the regular season with games against Oklahoma and Baylor.
15. Nevada (26-3): The Wolf Pack lost 81-76 at Utah State on Saturday, which ironically gave Nevada its first Quadrant 1 win of the season (because Nevada beat Utah State at home on January 2 and the Aggies climbed to No. 30 in the NET rankings after their latest win). Nevada now has three losses on the season, all of which have come in Mountain West play, and its final two regular season games fall under Quadrant 3, so the Wolf Pack will likely be seeded lower than one might expect for a team with Nevada’s AP ranking.
16. Marquette (23-6): The Golden Eagles lost consecutive games for the first time all season, losing at Villanova 67-61 no Wednesday and at home to Creighton Sunday. After sitting in pole position to win the Big East regular season title, Marquette is now a half-game behind Villanova in the win column with upcoming games against bubble teams Seton Hall and Georgetown.
17. Kansas State (22-7): The Wildcats could’ve put the nail in the coffin of Kansas’ Big 12 regular season title streak last week at Allen Fieldhouse but they felt short in a 64-49 loss last Monday. However, Kansas State still shares the Big 12 lead with Texas Tech – one game ahead of Kansas – with two games to play.
The Wildcats finish the regular season at TCU and home against Oklahoma.
18. Virginia Tech (22-6): The Hokies got a marquee win at home against Duke on Tuesday, which should pay dividends on Selection Sunday even though the Blue Devils were without Zion Williamson. The biggest question for Virginia Tech is if – and when – Justin Robinson will return to the floor.
19. Cincinnati (25-4): The Bearcats have the opportunity to win a second consecutive outright American Athletic Conference regular season title thanks to UCF’s win over Houston. Cincinnati and Houston are tied for first at 14-2 with two games to play. But those two games are massive in terms of the AAC race and Cincinnati’s NCAA Tournament resume. The Bearcats play at UCF on Thursday, then host Houston Sunday in a game that will have major AAC title implications.
20. Wisconsin (20-9): Last week didn’t inspire much confidence of the Badgers after they lost in double overtime at Indiana, which had lost its previous five games and 12 of its previous 13, before holding off Penn State 61-57 at home. Wisconsin is currently in fourth place in the Big Ten, which would mean a double-bye for the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament if they can finish in the top four.
21. Buffalo (26-3): The Bulls have won seven games in a row in the MAC after victories over Akron and Miami (OH) last week. If they can handle Ohio and Bowling Green this week, they’ll enter the MAC Tournament with a 28-3 record as the No. 1 seed in their conference tournament.
22. Wofford (26-4): The Terriers ran the table in the Southern Conference, capped off by an 85-64 road win against Samford. Wofford isn’t just some feel-good, mid-major story. The Terriers are a legitimate top-25 team. They’re ranked No. 22 on kenpom.com and No. 14 in the NET.
23. Villanova (22-8): The Wildcats ended their three-game losing streak with a pair of home wins over Marquette and Butler to climb into sole possession of first place in the Big East entering the final week of the regular season. They finish regular season play at Seton Hall on Saturday.
24. Maryland (21-9): The Terrapins had some of the wind taken out of their sails after losing to Penn State and Michigan. Maryland will finish the regular season at home against Minnesota on Friday. The Terps are a half-game behind fourth-place Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings.
25. UCF (22-6): The Knights may have effectively punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with their 69-64 win at Houston on Saturday – something the 33 previous visitors to Houston’s Fertitta Center were unable to accomplish. UCF will enter Selection Sunday with single-digit losses and it’ll have the chance for another quality win on Thursday against Cincinnati.
Dropped out of rankings: No. 22 Iowa, No. 25 Washington