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Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke men's basketball barely holds on to No. 7 spot

Duke eked out two close road victories this past week
Duke eked out two close road victories this past week

Duke finished off another undefeated week, albeit barely, to stay put in the AP poll. The Blue Zone will be here every Monday to give you the biggest takeaways from each poll:

Duke stays put at No. 7

For a while, it looked like the Blue Devils would fall out of the top-10 of the AP poll for the first time since February 2018. A near-defeat at 12-12 Boston College already showed signs of a Duke team that was receiving an inflated ranking, and a double-digit loss at 10-12 North Carolina only would have solidified that theory. Then, Joey Baker hit a three. A few minutes later, Alex O'Connell hit a trey of his own. A Tre Jones takeover and two buzzer-beaters later and the Blue Devils escaped Chapel Hill with one of the wildest victories in program history.

You've probably read enough about Saturday night's "Chapel Thrill", but how did the win affect Duke's ranking and potential tournament seed? A loss likely would have pushed the Blue Devils outside of the top-10, on the outside looking in for a No. 2 seed in March. And with no top-5 upsets in college basketball since Jan. 28 (which, for this season, actually seems like an eternity), avoiding bad losses is key for any team hoping for a high seed.

Michigan State continues to fall

Sadly for Blue Devil fans, their team's win against a then-No. 11 Michigan State Dec. 3 is looking less and less impressive as the weeks go by. The Spartans lost both their games this past week, bringing the team's losing streak to three. Two of those defeats have come to unranked opponents, including a 77-68 loss at an unranked Michigan Saturday afternoon.

With the tough week, Michigan State dropped from all the way out of the top-25 for the first time all year. Hailed as the preseason No. 1 and national title favorite, the Spartans' season is falling further and further into a sea of disappointment. Their schedule doesn't get any easier, either—Tom Izzo and company will face five ranked teams over their final seven games to close out the regular season.

San Diego State remains undefeated

Only 19 teams have ever entered the NCAA tournament undefeated, including only three since 1980. San Diego State has a real chance to do just that. The Aztecs won their lone contest last week, moving to 24-0 overall and 13-0 in the Mountain West. 

Head coach Brian Dutcher's squad only has five games left on its regular season slate, all against unranked conference opponents. The key matchup will come February 16 at Boise State, which is 11-1 at home on the year. Outside of that, three Mountain West tournament games in early March present the biggest obstacle between San Diego State and history.

The Aztecs remained at No. 4 in the latest AP poll.

Complete Rankings:

1. Baylor

2. Gonzaga

3. Kansas

4. San Diego State

5. Louisville

6. Dayton

7. Duke

8. Florida State

9. Maryland

10. Seton Hall

11. Auburn

12. Kentucky

13. Penn State

14. West Virginia

15. Villanova

16. Colorado

17. Oregon

18. Marquette

19. Butler

20. Houston

21. Iowa 

22. Illinois

23. Creighton

24. Texas Tech

25. LSU


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