Three questions regarding the latest AP Men’s Basketball Rankings:
Is Florida’s four spot jump warranted?
The Gators made a big jump in this week’s rankings, leapfrogging Duke, Murray State, Michigan State, and UNLV to earn the No. 8 ranking this week. But what did Florida do to deserve such a giant bump in the eyes of the AP? The Gators’ first game of the week came against a South Carolina team who is sporting a mediocre 1-6 SEC record. On their home floor, Florida bested the Gamecocks by a mere eight points and shot a putrid 37.3% from the floor. The Gators are shooting 47.2% on the year. The next game was tougher, facing then No. 25 Vanderbilt at home. Once again, Florida won by just eight points and shot an equally miserable 38.3%. So the question becomes, did Florida earn the right to pass Duke, who was five spots in front of them last week, Michigan State, who was three spots in front of them, or even Murray State, who was two spots in front of Florida and didn’t lose last week? With a game in Kentucky this week, Florida is staring at what could very well be loss number five, which would put them right back to where they were last week.
Which of the 12 ranked teams who lost are in the best shape to rebound?
Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, UNLV, Creighton, Marquette, Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Gonzaga, and Vanderbilt all dropped games last week after being ranked by the AP. Of those 12 teams, Duke and Wisconsin were the only two to drop games at home, though Wisconsin’s loss came against Ohio State. Duke, Michigan State, Creighton, UNLV, Marquette, and Gonzaga all lost to unranked teams, but Michigan State did knock off ranked Michigan last week as well. Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, Virginia, UNLV, Gonzaga, and Vanderbilt all have more ranked teams on tap next week. So, that leaves Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan as the teams who lost to a ranked opponent last week and don’t have to contend with another this week. Considering Indiana’s recent slide, that leaves Michigan and Wisconsin as the two teams most likely to bounce back and shoot right back up the rankings again next week.
Can Duke regroup before they fall too far?
As mentioned above, Duke’s road doesn’t get any easier this week, as they will be in the heart of enemy territory when they take on No. 5 North Carolina in Chapel Hill Wednesday. But it has been their recent struggles at home that have hurt the Blue Devils, not their play on the road. When looking ahead, Duke hosts rival Maryland Saturday, formidable North Carolina State next week, and the Tar Heels in the season finale. Toss in the tough road game against Florida State, and Duke could be looking at five losses in their last eight games. The once impenetrable Cameron Indoor Stadium has been the site of Florida State and Miami upsets and a near collapse against St. John's. If Duke wants to rally before the end of the regular season and keep their long owned spot in the Top 10, they must take care of business against lesser competition on their own home floor.