The latest AP Top 25 poll was released Monday and Gonzaga’s hold on the No. 1 ranking has strengthened, a new team entered the top five and a school from the Southern Conference joined the rankings. Here are our reactions to the latest college basketball AP Top 25 poll.
Michigan climbs into the top five
The Wolverines have steadily increased their AP Top 25 ranking every week this season from their preseason ranking of No. 19 to No. 18 to No. 9 to No. 7 to No. 5. In the latest AP poll, Michigan jumped Tennessee – whose only loss was in overtime on a neutral court against No. 2 Kansas – and undefeated Nevada.
That’s how good of a week the Wolverines had in Week 4, when they handily beat a pair of ranked foes at home to the tune of 84-67 against North Carolina and 76-57 against Purdue. Until proven otherwise, Michigan absolutely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the rest of the top-five teams, even if the Wolverines lack the future NBA draft picks or household names that are on the rosters of Gonzaga, Kansas, Duke and Virginia.
Wisconsin, Texas Tech make significant jumps
In the span of a week, Wisconsin and Texas Tech improved from being ranked just inside the AP Top 25 to becoming borderline top-10 teams. The Badgers jumped 10 spots from No. 22 to No. 12 and the Red Raiders improved seven places from No. 20 to No. 13.
Those kind of jumps are possible this early in the season due to the combination of a productive week combined with losses from teams ranked between No. 10 and No. 20.
Since the last AP poll, Wisconsin beat North Carolina State and Iowa, the latter of which was on the road against a ranked team, and the Badgers’ only loss this season was by seven on a neutral-court to Virginia, which is undefeated.
Texas Tech is still undefeated with a 7-0 record that’s headlined by an 18-point, neutral-court win over No. 24 Nebraska. The Red Raiders have also beaten USC and Memphis on a neutral court.
Gonzaga and Kansas show that not all wins are created equal
In the Week 4 AP poll, No. 1 Gonzaga received 32 first-place votes, which was only one more than No. 2 Kansas received.
Since then, the Bulldogs scored more than 100 points in both of its games, including in a 103-92 road win at Creighton. Meanwhile, Kansas needed a game-tying three-pointer from Lagerald Vick to force overtime against Stanford at home, where the Jayhawks won 90-84 for their second consecutive win in OT.
The order of the top two teams didn’t change this week, but the voters showed that not all wins are created equal. Gonzaga received 43 first-place votes in Week 5 compared to Kansas’ 19. The Bulldogs’ 11-point win at Creighton (6-2, No. 31 on kenpom.com) was more impressive than Kansas needing overtime to beat Stanford (4-4, No. 95 kenpom.com) at home.
Remarkably, there are still four different teams that received at least one first-place vote in the latest AP poll. Duke and Virginia both received one.
Furman is 8-0 with three of its wins coming against non-Division I teams and two others coming against teams ranked outside of the top 300 on kenpom.com. The Paladins have won in overtime three times this season, including a 90-88 win over Western Carolina in double overtime on Saturday.
It’s a huge accomplishment for Furman to be ranked in the AP Top 25, even if it only lasts for a week, and it should provide an uptick in publicity for the Paladins.
But just as a thought exercise, there’s an alternate universe where Furman is 4-4 with just one win over a DI opponent this season. If we label games that went to overtime as 50/50 games, since the score was tied through 40 minutes of regulation, Furman could have just as easily lost all three of its overtime games.
In the Paladins’ second game of the season, they won 70-68 at Loyola Chicago on Clay Mounce’s game-winning dunk with two seconds left. Reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Clayton Custer missed a three at the buzzer.
Furman has won all eight of its games and deserves the recognition that comes with its undefeated start, but it’s amazing to think that it could be four plays away from being .500.