Duke Rises to No. 7 in AP Poll

Three observations on this week's AP Top 25:

1) Duke is still ranked behind a three-loss Michigan State team. Now, this may irk me more than most because, well, I have a history with the Spartans, but although Michigan State has been more impressive as of late, they still have one more loss than the Blue Devils and have lost their biggest marquee games (UNC, Texas) and a home contest versus an average Florida squad, whereas Duke's two losses both came on the road against ranked teams, and the Blue Devils won their marquee non-conference games (Connecticut, Gonzaga).

2) According to the AP voters, Duke's strength of schedule is extremely impressive. As previously mentioned, Duke's two losses came to teams ranked No. 18 (Wisconsin) and 19 (Georgia Tech) on the road, while the Blue Devils demolished No. 15 Gonzaga at a (somewhat) neutral site, solidly defeated No. 17 Clemson at home, and also defeated three teams (Connecticut, Wake Forest, Arizona State) mired in the "others receiving votes" category.  Plus, down the road Duke will face No. 12 Georgetown in Washington D.C., along with rematches against Clemson, Georgia Tech, a home contest versus Florida State and a road game against Virginia (both amongst the "others receiving votes"),  and of course two match-ups with rival North Carolina (which fell to No. 24 in this week's poll).  In short, if the Blue Devils are able to come through this gauntlet of a schedule with only a couple more losses and an ACC Title in hand, it might be very difficult for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee not to hand Duke a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.

3) The "BCS" Conferences are dominating the Top 25, even without the help of the Pac-10. Despite there being no Pac-10 teams ranked in the AP Poll, teams from the six "power" conferences held 21 of the 25 spots in the poll.  The mid-majors are led by one-loss BYU at No. 14, the aforementioned Zags at No. 15, and Temple at No. 16, along with a newcomer, one-loss Northern Iowa, at No. 20.  What does this mean?  Possibly more at-large NCAA Tournament bids for power conference teams that have to play much more difficult conference schedules.


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