After an eventful week of Thanksgiving hoops, there was plenty of shuffling in the AP Poll.
Here are the full rankings:
We’ll start with Arizona, which is notably absent from the AP Top 25 despite being ranked second last week. The Wildcats came in last at the Battle 4 Atlantis and are reeling. This stat sums it up:
After losing three games in the past week, Arizona (previously No. 2) drops out of the AP Poll.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 27, 2017
The Wildcats are the second men's basketball team in AP Poll history to go from Top 2 to unranked in back-to-back polls (1986 Louisville).
Not great. Luckily for the Wildcats, it’s early. For all we know, they can still snag a high NCAA tournament seed. Not many schools have two building blocks like Allonzo Trier and DeAndre Ayton.
But it’s also naive to suggest they’ll be fine based on that, alone. The problems are real. It feels like Arizona has the widest range of outcomes of any team in America. How it responds will be fascinating.
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On a more positive note, Duke holds onto the No. 1 spot after winning its PK80 bracket. The Blue Devils aren’t a juggernaut – not yet, anyway – but they have incredible talent, mental resolve, and a legendary coach. Duke was pushed in all three games – in fact, it probably should have lost to Texas and Florida – but it found ways to win (that’s code for: Marvin Bagley is unstoppable). Bagley averaged 32 points and 15 rebounds in those wins over Texas and Florida.Duke starts four freshmen. It will improve as the season rolls on. It wasn’t always pretty, but this week was a great sign for the Blue Devils.
Kansas, Michigan State and Villanova follow Duke in the rankings, which seems justified. The Spartans and the Wildcats both won major Thanksgiving tournaments, and looked great doing so. The Michigan State defense is a revelation, by the way. When you plop a bunch of large, smart, athletic humans in a Tom Izzo scheme, it’s going to be awfully hard to score against them. Just ask North Carolina, which had topped 85 points in every game it played… until it shot 25 percent against the Spartans, the lowest figure in program history. Villanova hasn’t skipped a beat despite losing Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins. Mikal Bridges and Omari Spellman are outstanding replacements.
A big riser is No. 5 Notre Dame, which beat Wichita State in the Maui Invitational title game. Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell are awesome. We knew that. So is T.J. Gibbs – we suspected that, but we didn’t know it. Now we do. Gibbs is averaging 15.5 points on 53 percent shooting. Not bad for a third option.
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Texas A&M jumped seven spots to No. 9, and nobody wants to face the Aggies right now after they crushed USC in Los Angeles. Texas A&M finished under .500 last season and returned most of its team (it was a notorious underachiever last year, for what it’s worth).
As we’re seeing now, that’s unthinkable when you have Robert Williams, D.J. Hogg, Tyler Davis and Admon Gilder on your roster. The Aggies already have four wins over Power 5 schools, all of which are top-50 KenPom wins. Oh, and none of the games were close. Texas A&M is blowing out quality teams. Keep an eye on Hogg, who’s made a jump as a junior – he’s averaging 16.8 points on 53 percent 3-point shooting. He’s a stud, and he’s finally playing like one. The SEC is going to be wild this year.
Baylor slid under the radar this week because it didn’t play in Maui, Atlantis or Portland, but the Bears knocked off Wisconsin and Creighton in the Hall of Fame Classic. If you’ll recall, Baylor dominated in November last year, too. It vaulted six spots to No. 16 this week. Point guard Manu Lecomte isn’t putting up crazy counting stats, but the Bears just function better when he’s on the floor. It’s too early to put too much stock into these numbers, but Baylor is averaging 141.9 points per 100 possessions with Lecomte in the game – a mark that would lead the nation by a mile. The offense dies when he’s on the pine – Baylor ranks 31st overall on that end. Something to monitor.
Five new teams joined the AP Top 25 – No. 18 Virginia; No. 20 Arizona State (shout out to Tra Holder); No. 22 Texas Tech, No. 23 TCU and No. 25 Creighton. The Cavaliers have a big showdown against Wisconsin on Monday night, where they can solidify their new ranking.
That was a fun week of college hoops. Let’s hope this kind of action continues.