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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke remains at No. 20

The emergence of freshman guard Jeremy Roach will help Duke move back up the rankings in ACC play.
The emergence of freshman guard Jeremy Roach will help Duke move back up the rankings in ACC play.

While the top three remained the same, the rest of the AP Poll featured some major changes. Catch up on the latest rankings with the Blue Zone:

Blue Devils stay put

Duke has not taken the court since its Dec. 15 victory at Notre Dame, meaning the Blue Devils have not had a chance to pad their resumé in nearly two weeks. As a result, Duke is exactly where it was this time last week, holding down the No. 20 spot in the rankings. With upcoming matchups against Pittsburgh and Florida State, the Blue Devils will be able to show whether they have what it takes to make some noise in the early ACC slate and move up in the AP Poll.

In fact, Duke finds itself as the second-highest ACC squad this week behind No. 18 Florida State, as Virginia and North Carolina both lost last week. As the win over the Fighting Irish displayed, the Blue Devil freshmen clearly have grown significantly since Michigan State and Illinois came to Durham. With volatility being the name of the game in the middle portion of the rankings so far this season, Duke has a shot to move up with some quality wins in conference play. 

Clear top three emerges

Before the season began, most analysts pegged Gonzaga and Baylor as the top teams in the country. However, there was much debate over who would be the third powerhouse alongside the Bulldogs and the Bears. Some thought Iowa, with player of the year candidate Luka Garza and a host of shooters, could be in the same class as the top two. Despite the hype, Iowa's Christmas Day upset loss to Minnesota—a team that was unranked at the time—sent the Hawkeyes stumbling down the rankings to No. 10. Michigan State and Wisconsin have also been near the top, but both teams have suffered surprising defeats themselves this season.

Now, we have some clarity with regards to who that third elite team might be—Kansas. The Jayhawks fell to Gonzaga in their first outing of the year, as the Zags torched Bill Self's defense for 100 points. Since then, though, Kansas has been extremely impressive, with wins over Creighton, Texas Tech and West Virginia—all ranked opponents. With that list of victories, it is obvious that Kansas deserves the third spot in this week's rankings.

Back comes Villanova

Another team that is expected to make a deep tournament run is Villanova. The Wildcats entered the season as. the No. 3 team in the land, but an early loss to Virginia Tech sent them out of the top 10. Slowly but surely, Villanova has been climbing back up the rankings, as a six-game win streak along with major turmoil in the top half of the poll have been very beneficial for the Wildcats.

Villanova now finds itself ranked No. 4, which is a suitable position for what should be a Final Four contender come March. Despite head coach Jay Wright testing positive for COVID-19, Villanova is set up to have a superb regular season once program activities resume.

Complete rankings

1. Gonzaga (62)

2. Baylor (2)

3. Kansas 

4. Villanova

5. Houston 

6. Wisconsin 

7. Tennessee

8. Texas

9. West Virginia

10. Iowa

11. Creighton

12. Missouri

13. Texas Tech

14. Rutgers

15. Illinois

16. Michigan

17. Michigan State

18. Florida State

19. Northwestern

20. Duke

21. Oregon

21. Minnesota

23. Virginia

24. Virginia Tech

25. Ohio State


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