Sunday, November 30, 2014

My AP Top 25 this week

I very nearly did something I try never to do this week: Drop a team in my rankings after it went undefeated for the week.

I was very tempted to drop Wisconsin from No. 1 to No. 2, even though the Badgers beat UAB, Georgetown and Oklahoma to win the Battle 4 Atlantis (where UConn will be a year from now).

Not because of peer pressure – though five of the eight people who voted for Wisconsin as preseason No. 1 dropped it to No. 2 last week and replaced it with Kentucky, which has certainly looked dominant. No, I almost dropped Wisconsin because I started to think that Kentucky may simply be the better team. While I never try to drop a team that doesn’t lose, I realized this doesn’t have to be a steadfast rule. What if Wisconsin wins its next 30 games, and Kentucky does, too, while the Wildcats continue to look as dominant as they did against Kansas and, on Sunday, Providence? At what point do I simply admit UK is the better team and flip-flop the two of them?

But ultimately, I stuck with the Badgers at No. 1, for two reasons. For one, Georgetown and Oklahoma are both very good teams, and Wisconsin beat both on a neutral floor. (Though it took a furious comeback to beat the Hoyas. Had Georgetown won, my conflict of who to pick No. 1 this week would have been easily avoided).

The other reason is, Wisconsin plays Duke on Wednesday night. Granted, the game is in Madison, but if the Badgers win, they’ll prove they’re deserving of No. 1. And if they lose, they drop.

Meanwhile, Kentucky faces Texas (on Friday), North Carolina, UCLA and Louisville over the next few weeks. If the Wildcats win those games (or even most of them) in the same fashion they’ve beaten Kansas and Providence, they’ll move up to No. 1 on my ballot, no matter what Wisconsin or anybody else does.

As for UConn, it falls out of my Top 25 after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Sunday's painful loss to Texas. Obviously, this is a team that has some issues, though there are some things to like as well (defense, rebounding, Daniel Hamilton and, of course, Ryan Boatright). Husky fans can only hope Boatright’s injury isn’t too serious.

Granted, losing to consecutive Top 25 teams from the Big 12, one on a neutral court, the other on a last-second 3-pointer, isn't the end of the world for the Huskies. But clearly, this team is a work in progress.

This also means no AAC teams in my Top 25 this week. With UConn, SMU, Memphis and now Cincinnati off to shaky starts, last year’s success is quickly becoming a distant memory.

1.       Wisconsin
2.       Kentucky
3.       Arizona
4.       Duke
5.       Wichita State
6.       Louisville
7.       Texas
8.       Gonzaga
9.       Villanova
10.   North Carolina
11.   Kansas
12.   Virginia
13.   Iowa State
14.   San Diego State
15.   Miami
16.   Michigan
17.   Ohio State
18.   West Virginia
19.   Arkansas
20.   Michigan State
21.   Oklahoma
22.   Maryland
23.   Oklahoma State
24.   Butler
25.   Creighton

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