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Joe Boozell | | February 19, 2019

Duke rises to top of latest AP Poll ahead of Gonzaga, Virginia

Duke tops Andy Katz's Power 36

We are less than a month away from Selection Sunday, and for the first time in a while, there was some serious movement in the top five of the AP Poll.

The full rankings:

1 Duke (58) 23-2 1,594 2
2 Gonzaga (6) 25-2 1,502 3
3 Virginia 22-2 1,476 4
4 Kentucky 21-4 1,383 5
5 Tennessee 23-2 1,376 1
6 Nevada 24-1 1,240 7
7 Michigan 23-3 1,150 6
8 North Carolina 20-5 1,129 8
9 Houston 25-1 1,085 9
10 Michigan State 21-5 1,046 11
11 Marquette 21-4 987 10
12 Kansas 20-6 801 14
13 LSU 21-4 773 19
14 Texas Tech 21-5 733 15
15 Purdue 18-7 699 12
16 Florida State 20-5 525 17
17 Villanova 20-6 519 13
18 Louisville 18-8 507 16
19 Iowa State 19-6 426 23
20 Virginia Tech 20-5 408 22
21 Iowa 20-5 389 21
22 Wisconsin 17-8 250 20
23 Kansas State 19-6 249 18
24 Maryland 19-7 211 24
25 Buffalo 22-3 164 25

We'll start with Duke, which is back in the top spot. Tennessee's loss to Kentucky opened the door for the Blue Devils, who notched a dramatic win over Louisville and took care of N.C State this week.

Gonzaga has a reasonable argument to be the top team, and the Bulldogs are up to No. 2. But it's hard to nitpick Duke here. The Blue Devils are 23-2 with a bevy of awesome wins, and one of their losses came without Cam Reddish for the full game and Tre Jones for most of it.  There's not a scarier team in the land; when R.J. Barrett is your second best player, it's just laughable. Barrett would be the best player in the country some years.

WEEKEND REVIEW: 6 lessons we learned from another loaded weekend | NET rankings

Kentucky's beatdown over Tennessee was the reason for the top five shakeup. The Volunteers plummeted to No. 5, while every other top-five squad moved up a spot.

It's a little surprising that the Wildcats only inched one slot higher despite dominating the then-No. 1 team in the country, but Duke, Gonzaga and Virginia all have pretty amazing resumes. Gonzaga could reasonably be ranked first; it beat Duke. Virginia only has two losses, and both came to the Blue Devils. You'd probably take Kentucky to beat Virginia on a neutral floor right now, but the Wildcats have four losses. That matters when we're talking about the best of the best.

Kentucky also lost to LSU this week. Regardless, the triumph over Tennessee was a statement win, and the Wildcats are absolutely a national championship contender. The Ashton Hagans, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington, Reid Travis starting five is one of the most lethal groups in America.

Kentucky puts an end to the Tennessee reign

Speaking of LSU, the Tigers were the highest risers in this week's AP Top 25, checking in at No. 13. LSU was ranked 19th last week.

The Tigers' upset in Lexington was one of the most impressive wins any team has notched this season. And when you look at LSU's game log, it's just done a whole lot of winning lately. Will Wade's crew is 14-1 since Dec. 13 with wins over Kentucky, Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Those are all likely tournament teams.

LSU has the No. 12 offense in the country, per KenPom, and its two-man game between Tremont Waters and Naz Reid is a sight to behold. The Tigers surround those two with plenty of shooting and secondary playmaking. Kentucky and Tennessee are still the two-best teams in the SEC, but LSU is quietly 11-1 in the conference. It could absolutely take home the league crown.

The most interesting conference championship race lies in the Big 12, and don't look now, but the Jayhawks are the highest-ranked team in the league after beating TCU and West Virginia this week. Kansas is 12th, Texas Tech is ranked 14th, and Iowa State rose four spots and is up to No. 19.

Here's a look at the top half of the Big 12 standings:

Big 12 standings
Team Record
Kansas State 9-3
Kansas 9-4
Texas Tech 9-4
Iowa State 8-4
Baylor 7-5

Remember, Kansas just needs to win a share of the Big 12 title to extend its streak. The Jayhawks and the Red Raiders will square off on Saturday in Lubbock. Make it a point to watch that one.

BIG 12 RACE: Breaking down each team's chances at winning the up-for-grabs conference title

Some other notes and tidbits: Villanova dropped four spots to No. 17 after a second half collapse against St. John's. The Wildcats are good, but the regression from last year was to be expected. Kansas State slipped five spots to No. 23 after a loss to Iowa State. K-State is still leading the Big 12, but it just feels like Kansas and Texas Tech are more dangerous right now. Iowa is still ranked 21st, which isn't particularly noteworthy, but this shot to down Rutgers was:

More of that, please. We're in for some incredible moments over the next month and change.

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