Here’s a look at the newest AP Top 25:
|2||Michigan State (17)||1,571||28-3||2|
Villanova is 3-3 in its last six games after losing to Creighton on Saturday, and Xavier – a team whose struggles against Villanova are well-documented – jumped ahead of the Wildcats to claim the third spot.
Phil Booth is back, which helps Villanova’s offense. But the defensive issues are real. The Wildcats rank 34th on that end – fine for most teams, but a little below a national title hopeful’s standard. Jay Wright’s squad allowed 89 points to the Bluejays and has struggled to contain penetration all year; opponents make 49 percent of their 2s against Villanova, which ranks 147th. Mikal Bridges is a standout defender, but nobody else in the starting lineup is disruptive.
As we’ve seen with Duke, it’s possible to improve your defense in a hurry. Easier than igniting an offense, in fact, because so much of defense has to do with effort and scheme. Villanova is great, but it’s not playing great right now. This is worth monitoring.
MORE: Andy Katz's Power 36
Teams like No. 5 Duke and No. 6 Kansas give Villanova hope. They struggled defensively early and have gotten significantly better since. The Jayhawks jumped two spots after a huge road win over Texas Tech on Saturday.
We all knew Devonte’ Graham was great, but he solidified his argument for a first team All-American spot on Saturday. Here’s what we wrote about Graham in our instant analysis piece:
“Graham has dazzled in Big 12 play and was particularly awesome against Texas Tech — he finished 10-for-18 from the floor and scored 26 points. He made four 3s, but his attacking mentality stood out; Graham doesn’t have elite burst, but his first step is good enough. His penetration makes life much easier for the Jayhawks' offense. At its best, Kansas plays a beautiful, free-wheeling, drive-and-kick style – Graham is the engine. He consistently got into the paint against a host of talented Red Raider defenders on Saturday.The Jayhawks have a good chance to snag a 1-seed, and Graham is clearly their best player. Graham is averaging 18 points and seven assists. Jalen Brunson has him beat in efficiency, but the overall gap isn’t as wide as you might think. The senior deserves first team All-American consideration.”
Bill Self’s squad clinched its 14th straight Big 12 title over the weekend. Of course, the Jayhawks will be judged by their March performance – but considering what they looked like in the first few months of the season, this is one of Self’s best coaching jobs yet.
All things considered, it was a pretty tame week in the AP Poll. The Red Raiders fell six spots to No. 12 – Keenan Evans’ health is the most important thing to Texas Tech right now. If he’s right, Tech can make the Final Four. If not, the Red Raiders are ripe for a tournament upset. Ohio State is right behind them at No. 13, and the Buckeyes could secure a high NCAA tournament seed with a solid Big Ten tournament performance. The Keita Bates-Diop-Chris Holtmann duo remains lethal.
No. 23 Kentucky was the only new team to join the rankings this week. The Wildcats earned a massive road win at Arkansas, and John Calipari seems to have found a lineup that makes sense. Jarred Vanderbilt’s offensive rebounding has been a revelation for Kentucky, while Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are embracing their starring roles.
We’re 13 days away from Selection Sunday, but plenty will happen between now and then. Enjoy the madness before the madness.