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Zach Pekale | | January 6, 2020

Butler reaches its highest-ever mark in first AP men's basketball rankings of 2020

College basketball rankings: Here's why undefeated Auburn dropped, Michigan State surged in Power 36

Gonzaga came into its Jan. 4 matchup with Pepperdine having won 37 straight over the Waves. Given the anarchic nature of college basketball this season, it was only fitting Pepperdine took the ‘Zags to the wire in Spokane before the home side prevailed.

The Bulldogs avoided the loss and the revolving door that’s been the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll in the 2019-20 season. Duke remains second after a resounding, 33-point statement win at Miami.

LEARNING CURVE: 18 lessons from the opening weekend of 2020

While Gonzaga escaped Pepperdine and overcame a halftime deficit against Portland earlier in the week, five of the top 10 teams weren’t as fortunate. Here’s the first AP poll of 2020:

1 Gonzaga (54) 16-1 1,607 1
2 Duke (9) 13-1 1,545 2
3 Kansas (2) 11-2 1,513 3
4 Baylor 11-1 1,386 6
5 Auburn 13-0 1,317 8
6 Butler 14-1 1,181 11
7 San Diego State 15-0 1,130 13
8 Michigan State 12-3 1,129 14
9 Oregon 12-3 1,075 4
10 Florida State 13-2 966 18
11 Ohio State 11-3 924 5
12 Maryland 12-2 863 15
13 Louisville 11-3 844 7
14 Kentucky 10-3 811 17
15 Dayton 13-2 614 20
16 Villanova 10-3 604 10
17 West Virginia 11-2 599 16
18 Virginia 11-2 556 19
19 Michigan 10-4 502 12
20 Penn State 12-2 456 21
21 Memphis 12-2 455 9
22 Texas Tech 10-3 287 22
23 Wichita State 13-1 252 24
24 Arizona 11-3 184 25
25 Colorado 12-3 81 NR


No team had a bigger week-to-week improvement than Florida State but no team had a more momentous jump than Butler.

April is the 10-year anniversary of Butler’s first-ever trip to the Final Four. Neither the 2009-10 nor 2010-11 Bulldogs broke into the top 10 of a poll. Head coach LaVall Jordan has the 2019-20 squad at No. 6 following a 14-1 start — the loss coming by one at Baylor. Butler opened Big East play with a come-from-behind victory at St. John’s. Later in the week, guard Kamar Baldwin scored 20 second-half points in a home win over Creighton.

The Seminoles leapt into the top 10, an eight-spot jump following a marquee win on the road at Louisville. FSU gashed a Cardinals team that came into the matchup in the top 10 nationally in field goal defense by shooting 55 percent. M.J Walker’s status to play was in doubt, but he came off the bench for a team-high 23 points.

Hear from Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton following the Seminoles upset over No. 7 Louisville

Additionally, Auburn (13-0) and San Diego State (15-0) are now in the top-10. The Tigers and Aztecs are the two remaining unbeatens in Division I men’s college basketball.

The top 10 struggles

Oregon was the only top-10 team to keep its title after losing last week. The Ducks have never won at Colorado since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12. History wasn’t on their side in Boulder Maybe it’s the altitude? Or maybe it was the 21-point, 5-rebound, 8-assist showing from Colorado point guard McKinley Wright that led CU to a 74-65 win.

Wisconsin dropped five of six road games before a trip to Columbus, where the Badgers defended the Buckeyes into submission, winning 61-57. Go figure. OSU shot below 40 percent from the floor and below 30 from 3, both averages around 10 percentage points worse than its average rates for the season.

POWER 36: Badgers named team of the week after Ohio State upset

It’s going to be tough to beat Louisville on nights Jordan Nwora goes for 32 and 10. It’s equally frustrating for the Cardinals when Nwora turns in that kind of night and the rest of the team shoots a combined 13-for-47. Florida State had no answer for the ACC preseason player of the year. Except Louisville couldn’t contain the Seminoles, who shot 55 percent in a 78-65 win.

Memphis dropped the furthest of any team this week, plummeting 12 spots to No. 21 after a 65-62 home loss to Georgia. What stands out from this game was the Bulldogs’ supporting cast to make plays and pull out the win with Anthony Edwards shooting 4-of-17.

Marquette pulled the final major upset of the opening weekend with a 71-60 stunner over Villanova. Markus Howard poured in 29 and despite the Golden Eagles shooting below 20 percent in the second half, a 20-point lead proved insurmountable.
Colorado was the lone newcomer to the most recent poll. The Buffaloes had received votes in each of the past three weeks and jumped back in on the heels of a nine-point win over then-No. 4 Oregon. Colorado re-enters at No. 25.

Iowa, formerly ranked 23rd, was the only top 25 team to drop out. The Hawkeyes lost by three on neutral floor to Penn State. 

Here are some of the top games to look ahead to this week.

No. 4 Baylor at No. 3 Kansas

Wins at Allen Fieldhouse are hard to come by for teams not named Kansas, especially during coach Bill Self’s tenure. But to keep pace in the Big 12, beating the Jayhawks would be integral for Baylor. The top-5 teams will do battle in Lawrence on Saturday, Jan. 11.

No. 24 Arizona at No. 9 Oregon

A 28-point rivalry romp over Arizona State might be an indication that the Wildcats’ freshman-heavy core is starting to gel. A road win over the Ducks on Thursday might be enough to put the league on notice. Oregon stumbled at Colorado in its Pac-12 opener but picked itself up against Utah.

No. 11 Ohio State at No. 12 Maryland

The Buckeyes lost back-to-back games after starting 11-1. Maryland rattled off 10 consecutive wins before splitting its last four games. The Terrapins recovered from road losses to Penn State and Seton Hall. Can the Buckeyes bounce back in College Park on Tuesday?


Butler men's basketball upsets No. 13 Xavier

Butler defeated No. 13 Xavier, 69-67 to even its record at .500 in front of a sold-out Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

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