Predicting the Week 3 College Basketball AP Top 25 Poll

Ranked teams lost seven times since the release of last week’s AP Top 25 poll. Three came in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, defending national champion Villanova was responsible for two losses and two were in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, where the Big Ten won the series for the first time against the Big East.

Here’s how we predict the college basketball AP Top 25 poll will look heading into the Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis, Cayman Islands Classic, Preseason NIT and the rest of Thanksgiving-week tournaments.

 

1. Duke (3-0): Duke nearly doubled up Eastern Michigan, 84-46, on Wednesday in its only game since the release of last week’s AP poll. Freshman Zion Williamson led the team in scoring with 21 points and fellow freshman RJ Barrett had 20.

Duke will have the chance to solidify its No. 1 ranking and potentially add multiple strong wins to its resume this week in the Maui Invitational, where Auburn is on its side of the bracket and Gonzaga is on the opposite side.

 

2. Kansas (3-0): Kansas’ top-five freshman class and Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson have received most of the attention on the Jayhawks, but senior guard Lagerald Vick, who declared for the NBA Draft but returned to school, showed just how valuable he can be in his final year of eligibility. In Kansas’ two wins last week, Vick scored 32 points against Vermont and 33 against Louisiana on a combined 23-of-32 shooting and 15-of-20 from three.

 

3. Gonzaga (3-0): The Bulldogs blew out Texas A&M 94-71 in their only game last week and Gonzaga’s 94 points were the team’s fewest in its three games this year. Five players scored in double figures, led by Zach Norvell Jr. with 22 points. If Gonzaga wins the Maui Invitational, where Duke and Auburn are situated on the opposite side of the bracket, it could potentially be ranked No. 1 in the country next week.

 

4. Virginia (3-0): The Cavaliers have held opponents to less than 60 points three straight times to start the season, including a 97-40 win against Coppin State on Friday. Virginia showed off its balanced scoring attack last week with De’Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite scoring 20 and 18 points, respectively, against Coppin State, one game after starting guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy scored 20 points apiece against George Washington.

 

5. Tennessee (3-0): The Volunteers picked up a nice win over ACC opponent Georgia Tech on Tuesday as Tennessee won 66-53. Reigning ACC Player of the Year Grant Williams showed why he could make a run at defending the award with 22 points on 10 shots, along with eight rebounds and three assists.

 

6. Nevada (3-0): The Wolf Pack has won all three of its games by at least 15 points, most recently in an 87-59 victory against Little Rock. Fifth-year senior Jordan Caroline (17 points, 12 rebounds) and five-star freshman Jordan Brown (12 points, 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles.

 

7. North Carolina (4-0): After winning a pair of true road games in the first week of the season, North Carolina returned home in Week 2 and won two games in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels beat Stanford 90-72 and Tennessee Tech 108-58. North Carolina has five players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Cameron Johnson at 16.3 points per game.

 

8. Michigan (5-0): The Wolverines are going to skyrocket up the AP Top 25 poll after a five-day stretch in which they won 73-46 at No. 8 Villanova, then won the Hall-of-Fame Tipoff after lopsided wins against George Washington and Providence. Wing Charles Matthews has put up efficient scoring numbers (25 points on 10-of-13 shooting against George Washington, 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting against Villanova) and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis appears to be a ready-made Big Ten player with three games of at least 18 points and seven rebounds in Michigan’s first five games.

The Wolverines have the most efficient defense in the country, allowing just 86.8 points per 100 possessions.

 

9. Auburn (3-0): The Tigers had arguably their easiest week of the season as they played just one game – a 103-52 win against Mississippi College – before they traveled to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. Remarkably, Auburn is a top-10 team, but it might be the third-best team in the eight-team Maui Invitational field. It could have the chance to prove otherwise against Duke in the second round and potentially Gonzaga in the championship game.

 

10. Kentucky (3-1): Kentucky allowed VMI to make 19 three-pointers with a 50-percent success rate from behind the arc in the Wildcats’ 92-82 win on Sunday. They’re 3-0 since losing to Duke in their season opener but their home wins against Southern Illinois and VMI have left more to be desired.

Kentucky’s next high-major opponent is Seton Hall on December 8.

 

11. Michigan State (3-1): The Spartans have won three straight games since falling to Kansas in the Champions Classic with the latest one being a 101-33 romp of Tennessee Tech on Sunday. After spraining his ankle against UL-Monroe, junior forward Nick Ward scored a team-high 23 points with six rebounds, answering any questions about his health.

Michigan State’s next game is a big one against UCLA in the Las Vegas Invitational on Thursday.

 

12. Kansas State (4-0): The Wildcats advanced to the Paradise Jam championship game with a 64-48 win over Penn on Sunday behind senior forward Dean Wade’s 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Kansas State will play Missouri on Monday.

 

13. Virginia Tech (4-0): The Hokies turned an eight-point halftime deficit against No. 23 Purdue into an 89-83 victory in the Charleston Classic championship game. Virginia Tech guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ahmed Hill and Justin Robinson combined for 71 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists on 25-of-41 shooting and 9-of-16 from three.

 

14. Florida State (2-0): The Seminoles had a full week off following their 80-69 win at Tulane. Senior guard Terance Mann led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Green Wave. Florida State has only played two games this season but its season-opening, 81-60 win against Florida should age well.

 

15. Mississippi State (3-0): The Bulldogs will play their first high-major opponent of the season on Monday when they play Arizona State in Las Vegas. Since the last AP poll, Mississippi State picked up a win over Long Beach State. Senior Quinndary Weatherspoon is on pace for the best season of his career with three straight games in which he scored 21 or 22 points.

 

16. Clemson (3-0): The Tigers only played one game last week – a 74-59 win against Sam Houston State in which guard Marcquise Reed had 26 points, five rebounds and three assists. We’ll learn more about Clemson after its games against Nebraska (Nov. 26) and Mississippi State (Dec. 8).

 

17. UCLA (3-0): The Bruins have scored at least 90 in all three of their games this season. So far, their 1-2 punch has been freshman center Moses Brown (19.7 ppg, 13.7 rpg) and sophomore guard Kris Wilkes (19.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), but three other players are also averaging double figures. UCLA plays Michigan State in the Las Vegas Invitational on Thursday.

 

18. TCU (3-0): The Horned Frogs aren’t scheduled to play a team ranked in the top 100 until December, according to kenpom.com, but they’re 3-0 after a pair of too-close-for-comfort wins against Cal State Bakersfield (66-61) and Fresno State (77-69). Fresno State led at the half, but TCU scored 48 points after halftime and guard Desmond Bane scored a team-high 23 points after playing all 40 minutes.

 

19. LSU (4-0): Through four games, the Tigers have displayed one of the country’s most efficient offenses (16th) and a slightly-above-average defense (127th). Three of LSU’s four wins have come by single digits, including victories over Memphis (85-76) and Louisiana Tech (74-67) last week. Freshman Naz Reid leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game and the 6-10 forward is 6-of-16 from three this season.

 

20. Iowa (4-0): The Hawkeyes went 2-0 since the last AP poll, winning the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden with wins over No. 13 Oregon and UConn. The Hawkeyes’ starting frontcourt of Luka Garza and Tyler Cook exploded against the Huskies, combining for 48 points on 17-of-28 shooting and 14 rebounds. The early returns suggest that Iowa could be a much better defensive team this season. It’s ranked 64th in defensive efficiency after being ranked 242nd last season, according to kenpom.com.

 

21. Ohio State (4-0): The Buckeyes have already picked up a pair of true road wins against high-major opponents – 64-56 at Cincinnati and most recently, 69-60 at Creighton – plus two blowout victories against Purdue Fort Wayne and South Carolina State. Senior guard C.J. Jackson has been Ohio State’s most productive player so far with per-game averages of 14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

 

22. Wisconsin (3-0): The Badgers added two wins last week, most notably a 77-68 road victory at Xavier in the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Wisconsin has the lowest turnover percentage in the country (10.7%) heading into a week in which it’ll play three games in three days in the Battle 4 Atlantis, starting with Stanford on Wednesday.

 

23. Oregon (3-1): The Ducks lost their first game of the 2K Classic to Iowa, but they salvaged their trip to New York with an 80-65 win against No. 15 Syracuse. Oregon shot just 35.9 percent from the field against Iowa and 31.6 percent from behind the arc but the Ducks fared well against the Orange’s 2-3 zone by putting 7-2 center Bol Bol at the high post. Bol had a team-high 26 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the win. Oregon ranks in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and it leads the country with a 25 percent block rate, in large part because of Bol.

 

24. Furman (5-0): The Paladins have played five games this season, and they’ve already beaten half of last season’s Final Four participants on the road, the latest being a 76-68 overtime win at No. 8 Villanova. It was Furman’s second overtime win of the season and they also won 60-58 at Loyola Chicago, meaning the Paladins could be 2-3 if the ball had bounced differently once or twice in those three wins. But here they are, undefeated through two weeks.

 

25. Buffalo (3-0): The Bulls are ranked just inside the top 50 on kenpom.com, but their resume, headlined by a win at West Virginia, puts them in the AP Top 25. They beat Southern Illinois 62-53 on the road on Monday in their only game last week and that could prove to be another quality road win when the committee is examining resumes in March.

 

Fell out of rankings: No. 8 Villanova, No. 15 Syracuse, No. 24 Marquette