After a brutal two-loss week, Duke took another dip in the latest AP poll. The Blue Zone will be here every Monday at noon until March giving you the biggest takeaways from each poll:
It was a tough week to be a Blue Devil fan.
First, an embarrassing double-overtime loss at Wake Forest, a team that had won just three of its previous 13 games. Then, yet another road defeat, this one at Virginia, for the team's third consecutive loss away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. As a result, Duke fell five spots to No. 12 in this week's AP poll.
In last week's poll, the Blue Devils received the benefit of the doubt despite their 22-point blowout loss at N.C. State, dropping only a spot in the rankings. This week, the voters didn't grant them that luxury. Duke's five-spot dip is its largest fall since mid-January, when the team suffered its last two-loss week, and its No. 12 ranking marks the first time since the week of Feb. 12, 2018 that the team slid outside the top-10.
Outside of running the table in next week's ACC tournament, there's not much the Blue Devils can do now to avoid entering the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed. It would be the team's lowest NCAA tournament seed since 2016.
Luckily for Duke, it wasn't the only top team to fall victim to an unranked opponent this past week.
Three other top-10 units suffered the same result, all of them occurring this past weekend. Just prior to the Blue Devils' defeat at Virginia Saturday night, both Baylor and Florida State were downed as well. The Bears fell to a 16-13 TCU squad, marking their second loss in three games following their Big 12-record 23-game win streak. The Seminoles, meanwhile, lost on a last-second layup at Clemson, a unit that sits at just 9-9 in conference play but has three wins against top-10 teams on the year. Baylor and Florida State fell two spots and one spot, respectively, to No. 4 and No. 7 in this week's poll.
Then, on Sunday, St. John's completed the upset trifecta, blowing out then-No. 10 Creighton 91-71. The loss was the Bluejays' first since Feb. 5, dropping them to No. 11 in the rankings.
Mid-majors continue to dominate the top
In a year like this, where upsets have dominated the college basketball landscape, it's no surprise to see three teams from mid-major conferences taking over the top few spots in the AP poll.
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With Baylor's slight dip, Gonzaga and Dayton moved up to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, with San Diego State just behind them at No. 5. And with the way their schedules are looking heading into the NCAA tournament, those rankings don't seem to be falling anytime soon. It certainly helps that major conference units ranked just behind them, such as Florida State and Duke, continually blow opportunities to break inside that top-5 barrier.
Depending on how the rest of the regular season and conference tournaments play out, we could very well see all three of the aforementioned mid-major squads as No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. So far, those three teams have combined for just three ranked wins on the year, all courtesy of the Bulldogs.
With so few college basketball powerhouses taking up the top couple seeds, it's going to be tough to fill out those brackets this year. Will the mid-majors prove the doubters wrong and run it all the way to the Final Four? Will their lack of regular-season competition come back to haunt them in the early rounds? We'll just have to wait and see.
5. San Diego State
7. Florida State
8. Seton Hall
16. Michigan State
19. Ohio State
20. Penn State