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Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke men's basketball rises to No. 7

<p>Matthew Hurt drives to the basket against Virginia Tech.</p>

Matthew Hurt drives to the basket against Virginia Tech.

As the madness of the preseason settles down and conference play begins, the latest AP Top 25 poll provides the college basketball world with some much needed updates. The Blue Zone will be here every Monday at noon until March giving you the biggest takeaways from each ranking:

Blue Devils rank No. 7

After Duke’s historic upset loss to Stephen F. Austin, it has a lot of ground to cover before it can return to the top. With a decisive win over then No. 11 Michigan State and another against a stubborn Virginia Tech team, the Blue Devils have started their comeback on the right foot. While a No. 7 ranking is nothing for Duke to write home about, it’s a necessary step on the journey back to the top spot.

A new king in the Big Ten

Now just the fourth team in AP poll history to beat two top-10 teams (Villanova, North Carolina) by at least 25 points in a season, Ohio State is right on track to becoming a national title contender. On top of handing the Tar Heels a humbling 25-point loss, the Buckeyes broke triple-digits for the first time this season with a 106-74 win over Penn State. These two commanding wins add to an impressive 9-0 record and a deserving No. 3 ranking. After this week, Ohio State has plenty of momentum to carry into conference play and should continue to make a name for itself. 

Tar Heels and Cavaliers both fall

The ACC was hot and cold this week. While Duke and Louisville thrived, UNC and Virginia bordered on ice cold. The Tar Heels dropped to No. 17 after getting outscored in all four halves of play in the last week with the blowout loss to the Buckeyes and a slightly more forgiving 47-56 loss to Virginia. The Cavaliers also suffered an embarrassing 40-69 loss to unranked Purdue last Wednesday and saw a drop to the No. 9 spot.

Complete rankings:

1. Louisville

2. Kansas

3. Ohio State

4. Maryland

5. Michigan

6. Gonzaga

7. Duke

8. Kentucky

9. Virginia

10. Oregon

11. Baylor

12. Auburn

13. Memphis

14. Dayton

15. Arizona

16. Michigan State

17. North Carolina

18. Butler

19. Tennessee

20. Villanova

21. Florida State

22. Seton Hall

23. Xavier

24. Colorado

25. San Diego State

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