This past week of college basketball was an exciting one for college basketball fans that enjoy good underdog stories. There were countless upsets, to the point where it was almost hard to keep track of just how many there were. Perhaps even more interesting is that some top ten opponents were upset more than once.
Meanwhile, UNC managed to easily hold their ground against Western Carolina, which was all they needed to benefit from the dramatic shifts at the top of the polls. Without further delay, let’s take a look at this week’s Associated Press top 25 poll:
- Villanova (41)
- Michigan State (19)
- Wichita State
- Arizona State
- North Carolina
- Texas A&M
- West Virginia
- Seton Hall
- Notre Dame
- Florida State
- Texas Tech
Where is UNC?
In last week’s article, I discussed how UNC was bound to stay put in the AP polls for this week, unless they received outside help in one of the top ten teams losing. They did indeed get some help, but they got more help than one could’ve possibly expected.
Five....yes, you read that correctly, five of the top ten teams in the country lost games this past week in Duke, Kansas (twice), Florida (twice), Notre Dame, and Texas A&M. Of these five teams, only Duke managed to stay ranked above UNC. For casual college basketball fans, it is a thing of beauty to see this much parity this early in the season as even some of the elite teams in the sport are still trying to put everything together so that they are ready going back into conference play.
As far as UNC is concerned, they managed to demolish Western Carolina in their only game last week. They are finally on a much-needed break and do not play again until this weekend. Sunday will be one of their toughest games of the season so far, as Tennessee put up quite a fight last year in the Smith Center. Not only is this a true road game, but this is a tough Tennessee team that already took down Purdue. This should be a good test to see how good UNC really is at this point of the season
Kansas has proven that the name on the front of their jerseys may have given some people more incentive to give them higher praise than they actually deserve so far. This isn’t to say that they are a bad team, but they definitely have their share of issues, which they showed in their back-to-back losses against Washington and Arizona State. Washington held them to just 45% shooting from the field, while Arizona State shot the lights out of Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas will attempt to rebound from the two losses when they travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska.
Another team that managed to take back-to-back losses is Florida. Last Wednesday the Gators had an atrocious shooting night by only making 36% of their shots from the field and made 10.5% of their threes in their loss to the University of Loyola-Chicago. This was coming off of an equally bad shooting night against Florida State, in which they only shot slightly better in the three-point category, making 24% of their attempts. Forida managed to turn things around against Cincinnati, and so we will see if they can continue to work their way out of their shooting slump against Clemson this Saturday.
Let’s play a game: I want you to close your eyes and have someone near you read this next paragraph to you.
There is a team that started off as one of the top teams in the country according to the Associated Press. In their very first game of the season, they came away with a win against another top team and solidified their current ranking. About three games later their weakness on defense became very apparent, as mid-major teams put up reasonable fights against them despite the fact that they were still coming away with wins.
Their only other win against a ranked opponent was a top ten team that recently had a two-game losing streak, and the team in question only beat them by three points. This past weekend their weakness finally became too much and they lost a true road game against an unranked conference opponent that received zero votes from the Associated Press despite having beaten such a strong opponent. Now, take a guess as to how far the team in question fell down the rankings.
If you said anything more than three spots, chances are you didn’t realize that the team in question was the Duke Blue Devils. There is a good chance that the voters for the poll thought that Tar Heels fans would forget that during the 2015-16 season No. 1 ranked UNC lost to Northern Iowa and dropped all the way to No. 8. It is also worth pointing out that Duke fell three spots after losing to an unranked opponent, while UNC a couple of weeks ago fell four spots while losing to the No. 3 team in the country in Michigan State. Think this is because Boston College is an ACC opponent? Last year No. 9 UNC lost to Georgia Tech in Atlanta and fell five spots to No. 14. Don’t worry Duke fans: you’ll end up No. 2 following your win against Evansville.
Top 25 Conference Breakdown
Big 12: 5
Big Ten: 2
Big East: 3