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Thoughts on the AP Poll

Three thoughts regarding the latest AP Men’s Basketball Rankings:

Duke Remains Stuck at Number 2

Despite successfully capping off one of the toughest Novembers in ages with a 73-68 victory Wednesday over Ohio State, the Blue Devils again are ranked behind No. 1 Indiana in this week’s AP Poll. Undoubtedly, Duke has assembled by far the better resume, with wins over the then-No. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the country, in addition to defeating dangerous teams in Minnesota and VCU. Such a resume would certainly hold more sway with the selection committee than Indiana’s, who only has wins over Georgetown and then-No. 14 North Carolina, and if the tournament field were determined today, the Blue Devils would likely receive the No. 1 overall seed. However, the AP voters place less of an emphasis on body of work, and instead remain true to the old adage that a team needs to lose—or at least play poorly—to merit being dropped from the top spot. By routing UNC by 24, the Hoosiers ensured the top spot for another week. Furthermore, with neither team playing a marquee opponent in the near future, the top two spots could remain unchanged until January.

Where are the Defending Champions?

For the first time under John Calipari, Kentucky is not ranked. It’s a precipitous fall from grace for the Wildcats who began the season at No. 3. After falling to No. 8 following the loss to Duke, they were knocked completely out of the polls when they lost last week to both Notre Dame and Baylor, the latter snapping Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak, which was the longest in the nation. The plunge is the biggest single-week drop from the AP Poll ever. This year’s squad is severely lacking the same team chemistry last season’s champions possessed, and replicating that togetherness will be priority number one for Calipari before a clash with Louisville in three weeks.

What Happened to the Tobacco Road Triangle?

This year was supposed to be historic for the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area in that for the first time in 20 years, N.C. State would challenge traditional powers Duke and North Carolina for area bragging rights. However, just three weeks into the season, and the lust has already faded away as both the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels have suffered multiple early season losses. After beginning the season ranked No. 6, N.C. State has lost to Oklahoma St. and No. 3 Michigan in consecutive weeks to fall almost out of the rankings at No. 25. UNC meanwhile, was upset by Butler in Maui and then lost to top-ranked Indiana. At the start of season UNC was ranked No. 11, but has since dropped nine spots to No. 20. Tar Heel freshman point guard Marcus Paige has struggled in his first season while the C.J. Leslie and the heralded freshmen class at N.C. State appear to have trouble living up to the high expectations. Coupled together, all of it represents a down year for the top of the ACC, and a disappointment to what initially promised to be a great three-team rivalry.


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