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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke men's basketball ascends to No. 12

<p>The Blue Devils ascend to No. 12 in this week's AP Poll.</p>

The Blue Devils ascend to No. 12 in this week's AP Poll.

Following several high-profile matchups between contending teams, the sixth AP Poll was released Monday afternoon. This week, Duke ascended to No. 12: 

Continued excellence

Following last week’s pair of victories, No. 12 Duke has strengthened its hold as one of the best teams in college basketball. Led by a 22-point performance by star guard Jeremy Roach, the Blue Devils exited the Big Apple with a 74-62 victory against Iowa in the Jimmy V Classic. Four days later, Duke confidently handled Maryland Eastern Shore, winning 82-55 at home even with Roach sidelined due to a toe injury. The 10-2 Blue Devils look to further strengthen their standing in the college basketball landscape with their remaining schedule for now consisting entirely of ACC opponents, starting with a Dec. 20 matchup at Wake Forest.

Clashes for the top spot

The first few weeks of any team sport help build and re-form narratives, and nowhere is that more apparent than the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll. Houston dethroned North Carolina for the top placement two weeks ago but dropped to No. 5 in this week's poll following a 71-65 loss to then-No. 8 Alabama. Houston’s defeat was especially surprising given that the Cougars were heavy favorites against the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, and even led by 15 points early in the second half. Houston fans do not need to panic just yet, as the team is still a strong 9-1, but questions about the team’s quality of competition must be discussed heading into its Saturday matchup with No. 2 Virginia.

Hot streak

After missing the cut for the preseason poll, UConn has been on a roll, boasting an 11-0 record and the No. 3 spot in this week’s AP Poll. The Huskies beat Florida 75-54 Thursday in Gainesville, Fla. UConn then traveled back home Saturday, where it routed the mid-major LIU Sharks 114-61. Against the Sharks, the Huskies had five players score double-digit points, showing the team’s depth and talent. UConn looks to continue its strong start as it takes on conference opponents in the weeks to come in what should be a fiercely competitive Big East season.

Complete rankings:

1. Purdue

2. Virginia 

3. UConn 

4. Alabama 

5. Houston 

6. Tennessee 

7. Texas 

8. Kansas 

9. Arizona 

10. Arkansas 

11. Baylor

12. Duke

13. Kentucky

14. Indiana

15. Gonzaga

16. UCLA

17. Mississippi State

18. Illinois

19. Auburn

20. Maryland

21. TCU

22. Wisconsin

23. Ohio State

24. Virginia Tech

25. Miami


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