College Basketball Winners and Losers from Latest AP Top 25 Rankings
The mighty fell during the past week of college hoops, as previous unbeatens Wyoming, Arizona, Duke and Michigan all found themselves on the losing end of games recently. Other teams, like Oregon, North Carolina State and Ohio State, all got statement wins and are on the up and up.
Over the course of a grueling season, every team experiences highs and lows. All that matters is who gets hot come March, though, and who gets to hoist that national championship trophy in early April. While all these teams here would like to be the top dog, they can't let this week's results get to their heads, no matter the outcome.
(AP Top 25 can be found here.)
Winner: Louisville Cardinals
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This Week: 1 (Last Week: 3)
There is a new No. 1 in college basketball thanks to the three unbeatens losing this week. First, Arizona lost to Oregon on Thursday night. Then Duke lost to the ACC preseason favorite North Carolina State Wolfpack.
When Michigan fell at Ohio State on Sunday, no Division I team remained unblemished. This boosted the Cardinals, whose only loss came to Duke (the Cards were without Gorgui Dieng), to the top of the national rankings. Louisville took care of business against Seton Hall and South Florida last week, but will be challenged in upcoming contests with Connecticut and Syracuse.
Loser: Arizona Wildcats
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This Week: 7 (Last Week: 4)
One could argue that the Wildcats should have lost their first game of the season in an overtime win over Colorado last week when an apparent game-winning shot was called off. After six single-digit victories on the season, Arizona finally fell on the wrong end this past week at Oregon.
So the 'Cats have slid from a potential top ranking down to seventh, a more fitting spot for them. Maybe it's just me, but I have little confidence in this team come March due to their close wins and lack of recent NCAA tournament experience.
Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes
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This Week: 11 (Last Week: 15)
After a drubbing at the hands of Illinois nine days ago, many questioned both the toughness and skill of this year's Buckeyes. One week later, it's becoming clearer that maybe this isn't a rebuilding season.
Ohio State first won at Purdue, who beat Illinois at Mackey Arena just a week before, then on Sunday, the Buckeyes knocked off the last unbeaten team, their rival Michigan Wolverines. The win did not come easy, as OSU blew a 21-point lead only to get a couple big buckets from Evan Ravenel and Deshaun Thomas late.
Even with three losses, Thad Matta's bunch now ranks higher than a number of solid one- and two-loss teams.
Loser: Missouri Tigers
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This Week: 17 (Last Week: 10)
Last year, Missouri was without Laurence Bowers the entire season. This year, Bowers had played in every game up until a recent knee injury that shouldn't sideline the star fifth-year senior for too long. Mizzou fans should be itching to get Bowers back after a 64-49 defeat at Ole Miss this Saturday.
The fast-paced Tigers had not scored below 61 points before Saturday's tough outing from the field. Missouri stands as the nation's top rebounding team, but were beat on the glass, 33-31, in the loss. Expect Flip Pressey to have this squad ready to compete in their biggest SEC bout yet, as they travel to Florida on Saturday.
Winner: Marquette Golden Eagles
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This Week: 25 (Last Week: NR)
Buzz Williams and Marquette certainly know how to win close games, even if it's they that allow the other team to get back into the game in the first place. Marquette has two overtime wins and a one-point win to their credit, helping them get off to a 3-0 start in the Big East.
After wins over UConn and Georgetown, the Golden Eagles allowed Pitt to sink a buzzer-beating three-pointer, only to steal the road contest in overtime. Marquette hosts Seton Hall before traveling to Cincinnati this coming Saturday. A win at UC could pave the way to a 7-0 conference start for the team formerly known as the Warriors.
Loser: Illinois Fighting Illini
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This Week: 23 (Last Week: 12)
It wasn't a pretty week for John Groce's squad, but somehow the Illini still find themselves in the AP Top 25. First, Illinois fell by 17 to Minnesota at Assembly Hall in a game that was closer than the final score indicates. The same cannot be said for their effort on Saturday in Madison, though, as the Illini were embarrassed from the onset in a 74-51 loss to the Badgers.
Lack of frontcourt play continues to sting the Illini, as Nnanna Egwu couldn't stay out of foul trouble against UW after back-to-back solid performances. And Tyler Griffey continues to struggle with his shot, though Mike Shaw's effort was a bright spot in the latest loss. Illinois' next two contests come against Northwestern and at Nebraska, both of which are as must-win as it gets at this point of the season.