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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke men's basketball stays at No. 2 following win in ACC debut

Duke stayed at No. 2 in the AP Poll following a hard-fought win against Virginia Tech.
Duke stayed at No. 2 in the AP Poll following a hard-fought win against Virginia Tech.

On the heels of a 1-0 week for Duke, the Blue Zone is back with another installment of our thoughts on the latest AP Poll. This week, the Blue Devils remained idle in the final rankings of 2021:

Duke stays still

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many—in their one game since the last poll was released, the Baylor Bears have had only one contest, and it would be a stretch to call it that. Dismantling Alcorn State by a final score of 94-57, Baylor cemented its top spot for another week and left the Blue Devils with nowhere to climb in the last poll of the calendar year.

Staying at No. 2 nationally was no cakewalk, however, as Duke faced a scrappy Virginia Tech squad this past Wednesday. The Hokies came to Cameron Indoor Stadium and gave the Blue Devils all they could handle in the first half, entering the tunnel after 20 minutes of play after handing the gothic text-clad home squad its only halftime deficit this season. Duke shook off the brief holiday hangover in the second half and will have ample opportunity to prove it deserves the top spot in 2022.

Alabama's fall from grace

As quickly as Alabama rose in the rankings, now it has fallen.

The Crimson Tide crested the hill to earn a single-digit ranking after statement wins against highly-ranked Gonzaga and Houston, but they have since faced trouble. A loss to Memphis last week was just the start, as they proceeded to fall to the Davidson Wildcats at home last time out, dropping all the way to No. 19 in this week’s poll as a result.

While both Memphis and Davidson are threats to make a splash in the NCAA tournament come March—the two are ranked 31 and 54 in the KenPom college basketball rankings, respectively—their shared unranked status has spelled trouble in the standings for an Alabama team hoping to finish the year on a promising note.

Tennessee surges up

And to further Alabama's struggles, perhaps, come the Tennessee Volunteers, the nation's newly ranked No. 14 team—a five-spot rise in this week’s poll, with the aforementioned Crimson Tide slipping to their former spot.

The Volunteers face the Crimson Tide in the last game of each squad's calendar year with an opportunity to prove that they did not get to their newfound rank by accident. Coming off of an impressive win against then-No. 6 Arizona, the Knoxville, Tn., team will look to avoid the same rise-and-fall in the rankings that befell their next opponent.

Complete rankings:

1. Baylor

2. Duke 

3. Purdue

4. Gonzaga

5. UCLA

6. Kansas

7. Southern California

8. Iowa State

9. Arizona

10. Michigan State

11. Auburn

12. Houston

13. Ohio State

14. Tennessee

15. Seton Hall

16. LSU

17. Texas

18. Kentucky

19. Alabama

20. Colorado State

21. Providence

22. Villanova

23. Xavier

24. Wisconsin

25. Texas Tech

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