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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke men's basketball falls to No. 9 after loss to Florida State

A decisive win against Syracuse was not enough to protect Duke from falling in the rankings.
A decisive win against Syracuse was not enough to protect Duke from falling in the rankings.

With another week of college basketball in the rearview mirror, it's time for another installment of the Blue Zone's thoughts on the latest AP Poll. This week, another loss to an unranked team sent Duke down to No. 9: 

Duke drops to No. 9

Despite securing a considerable win against Syracuse Saturday at home, it was unlikely for the Blue Devils to see any upwards movement in Week 12 of the AP Top 25 Poll. With two games against unranked opponents, one ending in a loss, Duke’s success against the Orange wasn’t enough to prevent the group from faltering, only from falling even farther. The Blue Devils’ loss to Florida State, the school we have tied for No. 1 with Duke in our ACC power rankings, further proves that the Blue Devils’ path through the ACC may not be so easy six weeks from now when the conference tournament begins. 

All this being said, Monday afternoon, it was no surprise that Duke fell several spots to No. 9 when the updated rankings were released. While this drop isn’t too much compared to how other teams have fallen off, the Blue Devils will have the opportunity to work their way up again as the group competes against Clemson and Louisville this week. Both teams have 11-8 records, with Clemson 3-5 in the ACC and Louisville 5-4.

The rest of the ACC still doesn't make the cut

After starting its week with a Duke victory, Florida State carried on its recent run of dominance, defeating nonconference opponent North Florida 86-73 and in-state foe Miami 61-60 in its second win against the squad. Beginning this season with significant losses—including once against current No. 6 Purdue, a premier team that defeated them in a 93-65 rout—made it difficult for the group from Tallahassee, Fla., to make an appearance in the rankings. Despite having a 6-2 record in-conference, with no losses recorded since Jan. 4, the Seminoles still hadn’t had enough of a case to appear on the list. 

The other team to overpower Duke, Miami, lost to the Seminoles after defeating the Blue Devils, and have since lost again to Florida State on Jan. 22, which hindered its case to make the Top 25. Next up in the ACC is North Carolina. However, the group hurt their chances of making the list after multiple considerable losses this week, starting with Miami 85-57 and then Wake Forest 98-76. With no conference opponents on the list, and the Blue Devils riding off the success of their win against the Orange, the group will need to use its momentum to remain the top dog in the ACC.

Purdue takes a dip

The Blue Devil faithful remember Week Five of the AP Poll. Just the week before, Duke had reclaimed the top spot for the first time since early in the 2019-20 season. However, after a fateful 71-66 loss to Ohio State, Duke dropped to No. 3, and Purdue took the helm—where it didn’t stay too long. Now, twelve weeks of basketball down the road, the Blue Devils and the Boilermakers each sit with three losses, including one from this week. Despite securing a 96-88 double-overtime victory against then-No. 17 Illinois, Purdue took a tumble against unranked Indiana, falling 86-65. With that, the group went from No. 4 to No. 6 in this week’s poll. The Blue Devils and the Boilermakers are yet to play each other. However, a game between the two is possible in the postseason. The groups could make very balanced opponents for each other, seeing how their seasons have panned out thus far, so Duke will have to watch this Purdue squad.

Complete rankings:

1. Auburn

2. Gonzaga

3. Arizona

4. Baylor

5. Kansas

6. Purdue


7. Houston

9. Duke

10. Michigan State

11. Wisconsin

12. Kentucky

13. Texas Tech

14. Villanova

15. Southern California

16. Ohio State

17. Providence

18. Tennessee

19. Louisiana State

20. Connecticut

21. Xavier

22. Marquette

23. Iowa State

24. Illinois

25. Davidson


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