Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 14
With the NCAA's preview bracket revealed Saturday afternoon and some tight contests throughout the weekend, the AP Poll saw some shake-up just a month away from the Big Dance.
Blue Devils stay hot
Duke bumped its winning streak to five this week with home wins against Tobacco Road rival North Carolina and Clemson. With the victories, the Blue Devils moved to No. 12 in this week's poll and will have a chance to continue rising with a marquee matchup against No. 14 Virginia this week. The Cavaliers will enter the game after a last-second loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech that gave them the same ACC record as Duke.
In the early bracket, the Blue Devils were slated as the No. 16 team in the nation and awarded a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region. But with matchups against three teams seeded ahead of them remaining—No. 2 seeds North Carolina and Florida State and the third-seeded Cavaliers—Duke will have its chances to move up before March.
More shake-ups at the top
In what has become a weekly tradition, four top-10 teams took losses this weekend. Along with the Tar Heels' loss on Thursday night and Louisville's loss Monday to Virginia, Oregon fell victim to a late run by UCLA in a crucial Pac 12 battle. The Ducks dropped to No. 7 in this week's rankings, and the Bruins sit at No. 6. The Pac 12 powers have garnered the respect of the committee with Oregon slated as a No. 2 seed, Arizona as a No. 3 seed and UCLA as a No. 4 seed.
North Carolina dropped to No. 10, and the Cardinals remain the highest-ranked ACC team at No. 8.
On the other hand, the Big Ten drew the short end of the stick from the committee with no teams ranked among the top 16. The conference did not help its case during the weekend, as then-No. 7 Wisconsin was upset by Northwestern. In this week's poll, the Badgers are the highest-ranked Big Ten team at No. 11, followed by Purdue at No. 16.
Early No. 1 seeds continue strong play
In the selection committee's early reveal, Villanova, Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga were slated as No. 1 seeds, and each showed why this weekend. The top overall seed Wildcats continued their run through the Big East with a dominant road win against Xavier. The defending champions sit at No. 2 in this week's poll for the second consecutive week.
The Jayhawks and Bears also emerged victorious but in different ways. Kansas needed a last-second free throw from freshman Josh Jackson to topple an upset-minded Texas Tech team, but Baylor trounced TCU at home from the opening tip. The two Big 12 powerhouses will face off Saturday in the biggest game of the week.
Out West, No. 1 Gonzaga continues to roll and passed its biggest conference test of the season with a 74-64 road win against Saint Mary's. The Bulldogs are undefeated with just four conference games remaining and have a good shot at entering the NCAA tournament without a loss. Although Gonzaga was the selection committee's final No. 1 seed, committee chair Mark Hollis indicated that the Bulldogs were firmly on the top line at this point in the season.