Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke jumps to No. 11, Houston becomes last undefeated team

Sophomore forward Mark Mitchell led the Blue Devils past Syracuse and Notre Dame with 21 and 23 points, respectively.
Sophomore forward Mark Mitchell led the Blue Devils past Syracuse and Notre Dame with 21 and 23 points, respectively.

The Blue Devils jumped to No. 11 in the second AP poll of 2024 after eventful starts to many conference slates, and the Blue Zone is here to break it all down:

Mark Madness propels Blue Devils

Duke opened its 2024 with two conference wins, both behind stellar performances by sophomore forward Mark Mitchell. The Kansas City, Kan., native scored a career-high 21 points in the team’s Tuesday win against Syracuse, before breaking it Saturday at Notre Dame behind a 23-point and 14-rebound day. He added two threes in the defeat of the Irish — his second and third of the year — to go along with his first-ever double-double. With the wins, the Blue Devils moved up in this week’s AP poll to tie with Marquette at No. 11 and remain the second-highest of three ranked ACC teams behind only North Carolina. The Tar Heels also continued their rise this week, moving up to No. 7 after road conference wins against Pittsburgh Tuesday and then-No. 16 Clemson Saturday. The Tigers dropped their second straight game and fell to No. 21 this week following a loss at Miami Wednesday. 

Last one standing 

Three teams remained undefeated heading into this week — Houston, James Madison and Ole Miss. That changed Saturday, however, as the Dukes and Rebels both fell. Southern Miss got the upset against then-No. 19 James Madison 81-71. With the loss, the Dukes fell out of the poll completely, where they will look to get back on track for their first NCAA tournament bid since joining the Sun Belt. For Ole Miss, its perfect 13-0 start came to an end following a 90-64 loss to No. 5 Tennessee in the first game of SEC play for both teams. The loss knocked the Rebels out of the poll and solidified No. 2 Houston as the only remaining undefeated team. The Cougars are off to a 14-0 start and opened their first season in the Big 12 Saturday with a 89-55 thumping of West Virginia. It’s been smooth sailing for Houston so far, but tough conference tests in Kansas, Oklahoma and in-state foes Baylor and Texas are on the horizon. 

Another Florida Atlantic flop

After a surprising loss to Florida Gulf Coast on the road last week, then-No. 17 Florida Atlantic stopped its skid in a 79-64 victory over East Carolina Tuesday. However, Saturday saw the Owls fall again, this time in a close 70-68 road loss at Charlotte. A slow start plagued Florida Atlantic, which was down 15 points at halftime. Just like in their upset of Arizona, the Owls fought back, tying the game on their final possession. This time, though, they could not pull it out, as the 49ers won on free throws. The loss dropped them to No. 24, where they have work to do as they look to make another deep tournament run. 

Losses for Longhorns, Cougars

Two Big 12 teams saw themselves upset this week. Then-No. 12 BYU tumbled to No. 18 following a 71-60 loss at home against Cincinnati. The defeat is just the second of a relatively easy season so far for the Cougars, who are also in their first year in the Big 12. Then-No. 20 Texas lost as well, an 11-point defeat at the hands of in-state rival Texas Tech. That was just the third loss of the season for the Longhorns, who suffered early year losses against Big East powerhouses UConn and Marquette. Regardless, it was not the best way to start out conference play for head coach Rodney Terry and his team, who dropped to No. 25.

Full rankings

1. Purdue

2. Houston

3. Kansas

4. UConn

5. Tennessee

6. Kentucky

7. North Carolina

8. Arizona

9. Oklahoma

10. Illinois

T-11. Marquette

T-11. Duke

13. Memphis

14. Baylor

15. Wisconsin

16. Auburn

17. Colorado State

18. BYU

19. San Diego State

20. Utah State

21. Clemson

22. Creighton

23. Gonzaga

24. Florida Atlantic

25. Texas


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