The top six teams in the AP Top 25 Poll remained the same in Week 13, but eight schools saw their positioning change by at least four spots from last week. Here are our reactions to the latest AP poll.
Welcome back, Purdue
After debuting at No. 24 in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll and climbing to No. 19, Purdue spent the last eight weeks unranked. Thanks to the combination of a win over No. 6 Michigan State in the biggest college basketball game on Sunday and favorable rankings in advanced metrics (No. 7 on kenpom.com), the Boilermakers stormed back into the AP poll at No. 17. They were the biggest mover of the week.
Purdue’s 14-6 record is tied with No. 24 Wisconsin for the worst record among teams ranked in the AP poll, but the Boilermakers have won five in a row, eight of their last nine and they’re 7-2 in the Big Ten.
Purdue’s latest win established the school as a legitimate contender in the Big Ten.
Newton’s (Big Ten) law of motion
We’re going to borrow Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. There’s a corollary in there somewhere that applies to the Big Ten.
Purdue improved nine spots in the AP poll from unranked to No. 17 and Wisconsin improved two spots from unranked to No. 24. Meanwhile, Maryland dropped eights spots from No. 13 to No. 21 and Iowa dropped out of the rankings after being ranked No. 19 last week.
As we’ve detailed almost weekly in our AP poll reactions, the Big Ten has had a revolving door to the AP Top 25. It has seven teams ranked in the top 30 of the latest NET rankings and nine in the top 40.
Nine of the 14 teams in the conference have been ranked this season and only Michigan and Michigan State have appeared in every AP poll, while the other seven schools have mostly shuffled between No. 15 and unranked as the season has progressed.
Just by the nature of the Big Ten having so many teams worthy of AP Top 25 consideration, teams are bound to climb after a good week and often in direct correlation with other teams dropping due to recent head-to-head results.
This week’s Big Ten schedule, which includes Michigan at Iowa, Indiana at Michigan State, Wisconsin at Nebraska and Maryland at Wisconsin, will show that once again.
Louisville’s rise continues
After Louisville cracked the AP Top 25 Poll last week for the first time this season, debuting at No. 23, the Cardinals climbed eight spots to No. 15 on Monday. They’re riding a five-game winning streak in the ACC, which is the best active streak by two wins.
Louisville was picked to finish 11th in the conference in the preseason media poll as coach Chris Mack inherited a team that missed the NCAA Tournament and then lost four starters. Mack filled out his roster with transfers, the Cards weathered a challenging non-conference schedule that saw them go 9-4, and they’re now trending upward with a top-15 offense and top-40 defense.
A brutal February schedule that features games against No. 9 North Carolina, No. 12 Virginia Tech, No. 25 Florida State, No. 2 Duke, Clemson, Syracuse and No. 3 Virginia in succession has the potential to put a damper on Louisville’s impressive January, but this team and its resume are far better at this point in the season than almost anyone could have expected.
How good is Marquette?
This isn’t a question of if Marquette is or isn’t a good basketball team, but rather a matter of just how talented.
Marquette climbed to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 – the school’s highest ranking since it reached No. 9 in the AP poll on March 5, 2012, when the Buzz Williams-coached Golden Eagles finished the regular season with a 25-6 record having won 13 of their final 15 games in the old Big East.
The Golden Eagles are No. 19 in the NET rankings and No. 33 on kenpom.com, so computers and college basketball writers have varying opinions on Marquette. Non-conference wins over Louisville, Kansas State, Wisconsin and Buffalo are impressive – and the first two have aged quite well – while losses to Indiana, Kansas and St. John’s have the chance to look slightly worse with time.
No. 14 Villanova is the only other Big East team ranked in the latest AP poll and the two schools will play twice in February, but there’s a big drop-off in the quality of competition after the Wildcats.
Marquette is a No. 3 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament bracket projection and there’s a chance we won’t know just how good the Golden Eagles are until March.