Another week, another set of college basketball rankings. And while the top four teams held firm, the No. 5, 6 and 7 teams lost last week.
A look at the new AP Top 25:
|2||Michigan State (16)||12-1||1,560||2|
|3||Arizona State (6)||12-0||1,481||3|
We’ll start with Texas A&M, which was the beneficiary of North Carolina, Miami and Kentucky’s losses. The Aggies rise to No. 5, and have lost just once this season – a semi-road game at Arizona, which perhaps no team in America would reasonably be expected to win.What a turnaround for Billy Kennedy and the crew. Tyler Davis, D.J. Hogg and Robert Williams are even better than the sum of their parts; that’s something we definitely couldn’t say a year ago. Kentucky is vulnerable (more on the Wildcats soon), and every Florida game is a roller-coaster. Texas A&M has a chance to win a strong SEC, which is a far cry from when it barely finished over .500 with most of the same personnel last season.
A&M takes North Carolina’s place, which fell to Wofford last week in an uncharacteristic performance. The Tar Heels dropped to No. 13 as a result, but they rebounded nicely on Saturday against Ohio State.
North Carolina isn’t as good as it was last year – that would be a lofty standard – but the Wofford loss feels more like an anomaly than a trend based on what we’ve seen of the Heels. Simply put: because they rely more on 3-point shooting and less on offensive rebounding this season, they play a more high-variance style. That lends itself to some upsets; it also means UNC will blow some teams out. North Carolina is still an ACC title contender, and swingman Cam Johnson looked great in his return on Saturday, scoring 14 points. Don’t fret if you’re a Tar Heels fan.
Miami also suffered an uncharacteristic loss on Saturday, falling to New Mexico State. The Hurricanes are outstanding defensively, but the defeat underscored their biggest problem: their lack of a go-to scorer. Miami only mustered 54 points on Saturday; it now has the No. 78 offense in America. Like UNC, the Hurricanes are still ACC title contenders – but they have an obvious problem. It’s the reason they fell to No. 15, but expect their No. 5 defense to help them shoot back up the rankings.
A few notes lower in the poll: Kentucky dropped to No. 16 after its loss to UCLA. The ultra-young Wildcats will look a look better in February than they do now, but the Bruins exposed their leaky defense. No new teams joined the fray, but Gonzaga fell eight spots after its loss to San Diego State – the Bulldogs looked great early on, but they’re still picking up the pieces from everything they lost after last season. Oklahoma jumped five spots to No. 12, and that might even be too low. The Sooners don’t have a top-10 resume yet, to be clear. But just based on the eye test: are there nine 10 better than Trae Young and the squad? Probably not. Oklahoma has a real chance to de-throne Kansas in early March. So does No. 10 TCU, which jumped five spots. The balanced Horned Frogs are one of three teams yet to lose.
Now is when the fun begins. Bring on the conference madness.