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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Week 16

With the regular season coming to a close, the AP Top 25 Poll continues to fluctuate with 17 losses by last week's top 25 teams.  

After road split, Blue Devils sit at No. 15

Duke appeared headed for a fourth consecutive victory against ranked opponents Saturday against Louisville. But the Blue Devils lost their way in the second-half and blew a double-digit, second half lead in a 71-64 loss to the Cardinals. Coupled with a road win against then-No. 5 North Carolina, the loss did not hurt Duke much as the team checks in at No. 15 in this week's poll. The Blue Devils only have one game remaining this season against a team ranked in this week's poll—March 5 against No. 7 North Carolina, which was announced as a 6:30 p.m. tip-off earlier Monday. 

Hanging tough at the top

In the midst of what has been a challenging season for teams near the top of the poll, No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Kansas have managed to remain in the first two spots of the rankings for yet another week. The Wildcats pushed their winning streak to six Wednesday, knocking off cross-town rival Temple, before taking down Butler at home Saturday. Like Villanova, the Jayhawks find themselves in first place in conference play entering the final two weeks of the regular season. With three of its final four games against ranked opponents—No. 17 Iowa State, No. 19 Baylor and No. 25 Texas—Kansas will likely be challenged as it looks to win its 12th straight Big 12 regular season championship.

Wild, wild Wednesday

The craziest night of the past week got started early, with then-No. 4 Iowa visiting Penn State. Although the Nittany Lions entered the game with just three conference wins, the hosts pulled off a shocker, taking down the now-No. 8 Hawkeyes, 79-75, in Iowa’s only game of the week. 

Later that evening in Lubbock, Texas, the surprises continued as Texas Tech knocked off then-No. 3 Oklahoma. For the Sooners, it was their third loss in their four games and the nation’s second-leading scorer, Buddy Hield, was held to 16 points on the night. With a win later in the week against then-No. 10 West Virginia, Oklahoma was able to mitigate the damage from the loss and dropped only one spot to No. 4. The Mountaineers are 14th this week. 

By Wednesday's close, the Blue Devils had made North Carolina the third team in last week's top five to lose. 

Maryland remains a tough nut to crack

One of the biggest upsets of the week came Thursday night as Minnesota—previously winless in its prior 22 Big Ten games—hosted and upset then-No. 6 Maryland. The 68-63 win gave the Golden Gophers their first win in conference play and dropped the Terrapins out of pole position in the Big Ten regular-season standings. 

But just four days later, Maryland closer resembled the team many expected before the season began with an 86-82 win against Michigan. With the regular season coming to a close, the No. 10 Terrapins remain one of the toughest teams in the nation to decipher. 

Things only get better with time

As the regular season winds down, some of the best matchups of the season are on tap for this week—and it all starts Monday with a pair of ranked matchups. The No. 3 Cavaliers host No. 12 Miami and No. 17 Iowa State visits No. 14 West Virginia. The highly anticipated rematch between the Big East’s top teams—top-ranked Villanova and No. 5 Xavier—will take place Wednesday night with the Wildcats looking to keep their stranglehold on first place in the Big East. 

Throw in a Saturday slate with four games between ranked opponents—including the Red River rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas and a battle between ACC-leading North Carolina and Virginia—and the next seven days will likely be as wild as the last.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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