Top 25 rewind: Get ready for changes at the top of AP poll
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2017
RALEIGH (AP) — Duke kept winning through a packed-full schedule in the opening month to become the unanimous No. 1 in the AP Top 25 .
Now that the Blue Devils have lost — along with No. 2 Kansas falling twice — don’t expect the same level of agreement on who should be atop Monday’s new poll.
The Blue Devils (11-1) lost at Boston College on Saturday in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener, three days after the Jayhawks lost to Washington in Kansas City, Missouri. That was part of a week that saw half of the top 10 lose at least once, including No. 5 Florida, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 9 Notre Dame.
Duke had managed to win several close calls to start the season, but the Blue Devils couldn’t repeat it against the Eagles. It was a reminder that despite all the talent — most notably Marvin Bagley III at the helm of a top-flight recruiting class — Duke needs to improve defensively and doesn’t have a lot of depth as of now.
“We told them the truth when they won their first 11 games, too,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, ‘that we were behind a few games and came back . that we’re still learning. This is a very young basketball team that just happened to win and be tough in 11 games.”
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, struggled to hit from outside against Washington’s zone (5 of 20 from 3-point range) and allowed the Huskies to shoot 48 percent in Wednesday’s 74-65 loss — which left Jayhawks senior Devonte Graham to say simply: “We really just didn’t have it tonight.”
Things didn’t get any better Sunday, with No. 16 Arizona State pulling away from the Jayhawks in the second half to win 95-85 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Sun Devils shine
Speaking of Arizona State, maybe it’s time to start paying closer attention to what Bobby Hurley’s unbeaten bunch is doing. The Sun Devils (9-0) are off to their best start since the 1974-75 season and have a second big win to go with one against now-No. 13 Xavier on Nov. 24.
New No. 1?
So after all the trouble at the top, who will rise to the No. 1 spot? No. 3 Michigan State and No. 4 Villanova each have a case.
The Spartans (9-1) suffered their only loss against Duke in the Champions Classic, but have since won the PK80 Invitational in a performance that included a dominant lockdown of reigning national champion North Carolina. Michigan State beat Rutgers and Southern Utah in the past week.
The Wildcats (10-0) earned an impressive win against No. 12 Gonzaga on Tuesday in New York, but they had to fight to the final minute Sunday to close out a La Salle team that entered at 5-5.
Tripped up twice
Florida, No. 14 Minnesota and No. 22 Nevada each lost two games to set themselves up for a fall, though the Gators’ stumbles were particularly glaring since both came at home.
Playing for the first time since blowing a 17-point second-half lead in a loss to Duke in the PK80, Florida (6-3) lost by 17 to Florida State on Monday. Two days later, the Gators led for all of 93 seconds in a 65-59 loss to Loyola Chicago. Florida salvaged a win Saturday against No. 17 Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, New Jersey, to avoid a four-game skid.
The Gophers (8-3) lost at Nebraska in Big Ten play, then lost at Arkansas . The Wolf Pack (8-2) lost at Texas Tech in overtime and to No. 20 TCU in the Hall of Fame Basketball Classic in Los Angeles.
Start of a comeback?
Arizona’s 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas made the Wildcats the first team in three decades to go from No. 2 in the AP Top 25 to unranked in a week. But Arizona has won four straight games, including Tuesday’s win against Texas A&M followed by Saturday’s home win against Alabama .
The Wildcats also got some good news with the season debut of sophomore Rawle Alkins after a preseason foot injury.