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Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke men's basketball falls to No. 7 following up and down week

Duke's loss at N.C. State was its largest unranked defeat under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke's loss at N.C. State was its largest unranked defeat under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

This past week was one filled with highs and lows for the Blue Devils, with Saturday’s lopsided victory against Virginia Tech serving as a bounce-back performance in the aftermath of a disappointing showing at North Carolina State. The Blue Zone will be here every Monday at noon until March giving you the biggest takeaways from each poll:

Duke drops, but not too far

As anticipated, the Blue Devils fell from their previous ranking of No. 6 following a 22-point road loss to their rivals from Raleigh. However, Duke remained in the top-10, as recent struggles for other contenders such as Penn State and Maryland have allowed the Blue Devils to find themselves slotted in at No. 7.

There is still a path for Duke to earn a No. 1 seed come NCAA tournament time, and it clearly involves taking care of business in the ACC. The Blue Devils still have an excellent opportunity to capture at least a share of the ACC regular season title, which would make their path in the conference tournament markedly easier. If Duke wins out until the start of the NCAA tournament, it will be tough to deny the Blue Devils one of those four top spots. 

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk

Saturday’s clash between then-No. 1 Baylor and then-No. 3 Kansas may have been the conference matchup with the most postseason implications to this point. In a thriller in Waco, Texas, Kansas went home with a 64-61 victory against a Baylor team that had won 23 straight games entering the contest. As a result, the Jayhawks were the obvious choice for the No. 1 ranking this week. 

While Kansas now has a boosted resumé and an argument for the top overall seed, Baylor is still not far behind. Losing by a single possession to the current No. 1 is nothing to be ashamed of, and voters reflected that sentiment by placing the Bears right behind Kansas at No. 2. It figures to be a heavyweight fight between the two Big 12 titans for conference and seeding supremacy. 

West Coast struggles

While many of you have been asleep, a pair of mid-majors have dominated the state of affairs out west. Gonzaga and San Diego State are both surefire national title contenders, but this past week was not kind to either team. 

Gonzaga, after winning 40 consecutive regular season conference outings, was picked apart in a 91-78 loss to then-No. 23 BYU Saturday night. While the Bulldogs only dropped a single spot to third in the rankings, head coach Mark Few must figure out a way to ensure that future letdowns do not spoil the championship aspirations of his team.

Meanwhile, San Diego State had won its first 26 games of the season in the weak Mountain West, but a shocking loss to mediocre UNLV has hampered the Aztecs' chances of receiving a No. 1 seed from the committee. San Diego State will likely have to win out and hope for other teams vying for a top slot to struggle. It dropped one spot to No. 5 in this week's poll.

Complete Rankings

1. Kansas

2. Baylor

3. Gonzaga

4. Dayton

5. San Diego State

6. Florida State

7. Duke

8. Kentucky

9. Maryland

10. Creighton

11. Louisville

12. Villanova

13. Seton Hall

14. Oregon

15. Auburn

16. Penn State

17. BYU

18. Iowa

19. Michigan

20. West Virginia

21. Colorado

22. Texas Tech

23. Ohio State

24. Michigan State

25. Houston

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