There were no changes in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 poll for Week 11, which means we’ll get two top-10 matchups this week in the ACC. Four teams dropped out of the AP poll and they were replaced by three familiar faces plus a school that hasn’t been ranked in six seasons.
Here are our reactions to the latest college basketball AP Top 25 poll.
(Maybe) we’ll finally learn who the best team in the country is this week
Four teams split the 64 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 poll this week. No. 1 Duke received 36 and No. 3 Tennessee earned 13, while the last two remaining undefeated teams – Michigan and Virginia – got nine and six, respectively.
We don’t need a consensus No. 1 team in the sport. In fact, you could argue college basketball and the discussions surrounding it are more fun when there’s a crowded top tier like there is this season.
But with Duke hosting Virginia on Saturday and Michigan in a tricky spot with its road game at Wisconsin on the same day, we should have at least a little more clarity atop the AP poll this time next week.
A clearly defined top tier
It just so happens that the top 10 of the AP poll remained the same as last week as that group of teams went undefeated in Week 10. Maybe there aren’t 10 teams that truly have a case of competing at the highest level of the sport but 10 is a clean number and there does appear to be a drop-off – at least at this point in the season – from that group to the next tier that includes No. 11 Florida State, No. 12 Kentucky and No. 13 North Carolina.
There’s a really good chance No. 1 Duke or No. 4 Virginia will win the ACC, No. 2 Michigan or No. 6 Michigan State win the Big Ten, and No. 7 Kansas or No. 8 Texas Tech will win the Big 12. Gonzaga, ranked No. 5, and No. 10 Nevada will likely be runaway champions in the WCC and Mountain West, respectively.
No. 3 Tennessee is in first place in the SEC.
Teams might enter or leave this group but when we think about conference title favorites and teams whose records and resumes put them in contention for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed through mid-January, look no further than the top 10 of the AP poll.
Long time no see, Ole Miss
After a 13-2 start in the first season of Kermit Davis’ tenure, Ole Miss has cracked the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since the week of January 28, 2013. In other words, it’s the highest Ole Miss has climbed in the AP poll since the school’s 63-61 win at Auburn, where this first-ballot Hall of Fame gif was born.
That was when the Marshall Henderson-led Rebels started the season 17-2 before going 6-6 in their final 12 games of the regular season. They won the SEC tournament, earned a No. 12 seed and ultimately lost to No. 13 seed La Salle in the second round.
Through 15 games, this year’s Ole Miss team is slightly better than Henderson & Co a la 2013. The Rebels are tied for first place in the SEC after wins over top-15 opponents Auburn and Mississippi State last week.
They have the nation’s No. 24 offense and No. 63 defense, and they’re riding a 10-game winning streak heading into home games against LSU and Arkansas after being picked to finish dead last in the SEC.
Ole Miss lost 11 of its final 12 games last season so barring a similar late-season slide the Rebels are on track to not just make the NCAA tournament but do so with ease.
Deja vu for Villanova
Villanova is back in the AP Top 25 poll and this time the Wildcats might be there to stay. Villanova’s week-by-week AP poll trajectory looks like this: No. 9, No. 8, NR, No. 23, No. 21, No. 17, NR, NR, NR, NR, No. 22.
Given their latest ranking at No. 22, they might only be one loss away from falling back out of the rankings but they’re the only undefeated team in Big East play with wins over Providence, St. John’s and Creighton.
Marquette will contend for the Big East regular season title but despite Villanova’s four non-conference losses, the Wildcats might still be the best team in the conference. It might take Phil Booth and Eric Paschall averaging 35-plus minutes per game in Big East play for Villanova to resemble anything close to its preseason top-10 ranking but the Wildcats still have the talent to improve on their current ranking in the 20s in the AP poll, NET and on kenpom.com.
The Big Ten’s rotating door to the AP poll
The Big Ten may not get seven teams ranked in the same AP Top 25 poll like it did in Week 3 of the college basketball season but it should have a rotating cast of four to six teams that crack the top 25 on a weekly basis.
Five teams from the conference are ranked this week: No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 19 Maryland, No. 23 Iowa and No. 25 Indiana with Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin among the top four teams in the “Others receiving votes” category. The Terrapins and Hawkeyes returned to the top 25 after beating the Hoosiers and Buckeyes, respectively.
If Wisconsin beats No. 2 Michigan on Saturday, then the Badgers will surely appear in next week’s AP poll.
The eight Big Ten teams among the top 30 vote-getters speaks to the conference’s depth. It also has eight ranked among the top 30 in the NET and nine in the top 30 on kenpom.com. It essentially gives every team in the conference the opportunity to add one or two quality wins each week as 10 teams in the conference legitimately have hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament.