Winners & Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 2

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystNovember 18, 2013

Winners & Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 2

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    The results are in, and to nobody's surprise Michigan State has climbed to the top spot in the latest AP ranking of college basketball's Top 25 teams.

    Even though the Spartans nearly lost to Columbia on Friday night, they were rewarded for dethroning the former No. 1 team (Kentucky) in the Champions Classic. Of the 70 voters, 51 put Michigan State in first place on their ballots.

    Which teams received the other 19 votes for best team in the nation? And how far did North Carolina plummet after its embarrassing loss to Belmont on Sunday?

    Aside from the new leader, let's take a look at the biggest winners and losers of the latest poll.

Winner: Arizona Wildcats

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    Kansas received seven first-place votes after beating Duke in the Champions Classic last Tuesday. Louisville also received seven first-place votes after a few dominant performances against Hofstra and Cornell.

    Neither vote count was particularly surprising.

    However, the five first-place votes for Arizona were a bit unexpected.

    That isn't meant as a slight to the Wildcats. They certainly deserve a little extra recognition for their road win over San Diego State on Thursday. But it's at least a little shocking that they're receiving first-place votes while Duke and Kentucky aren't receiving any.

    The real question now is whether they can actually climb to the top of the polls. Only two of our six experts even nominated Arizona as a candidate to be ranked No. 1 at any point this season.

    A win over Duke in the championship of the NIT Season Tip-Off would certainly be a big step in the right direction.

Loser: Atlantic Coast Conference

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    Duke dropped from No. 4 to No. 6 after its loss to Kansas.

    North Carolina nosedived from No. 12 to No. 24 after struggling with Holy Cross and losing to Belmont.

    Notre Dame lost a home game to Indiana State. Virginia lost at home at the last second to VCU. Both teams dropped out of the Top 25.

    Syracuse held steady at No. 9 after a few home wins over Fordham and Colgate, but the Orange were the only ACC team that didn't stumble in the updated rankings—unless you want to count the four votes Florida State received after understandably getting shutout in the preseason poll.

    At least for the time being, there isn't much of a debate on whether the ACC or Big Ten is the best conference in the country.

Winner: Fred Hoiberg

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    Iowa State lost four of its six leading scorers after the 2012-13 season but still managed to upset Michigan on Sunday to climb into this week's poll at No. 21.

    As the game was drawing to a close, prominent college hoops writers were overloading Twitter with comments about how happy they are for Fred Hoiberg and how there aren't many teams they would rather watch than Iowa State.

    We'll see how the Cyclones like being in the ranked-team-on-the-road situation when they travel to BYU on Wednesday night for an early-season showdown between two underrated threats to reach the Elite Eight.

Loser: Connecticut's Doubters

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    In the last seven days, Connecticut won three games by a total of 81 points.

    All the Huskies have to show for their dominance is a one-spot bump from No. 19 to No. 18and that's only because North Carolina went from seven spots ahead of them to six spots behind them.

    Shabazz Napier is a bona fide Wooden Award candidate. The rest of the starting five isn't exactly chopped liver, either.

    It's almost as if the nation hasn't recovered from an entire season of disregarding Connecticut due to its ineligibility to play in last year's NCAA tournament.

    Sleep on this team at your own risk. Perhaps a couple of wins over Boston College and Indiana in the 2K Sports Classic this week will wake up the voters.

Winner: Mid-Major Schools

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    While the North Carolinas, Floridas and Michigans of the world were losing games and losing ground in the polls, the little guys crept closer to the top of the ladder.

    VCU jumped four spots to No. 10 after an impressive road win over Virginia. Gonzaga destroyed Colorado State and comfortably handled Oakland to move up two spots to No. 13. And Wichita State climbed into a tie for No. 14 after a trio of double-digit wins over Western Kentucky, William & Mary and Tennessee State.

    Harvard is still on the outside looking in, but went from 46 votes in the preseason poll to 72 votes on Monday. Should the Crimson pick up a road win against Colorado on Sunday, they will probably climb into the Top 25 next week.

Loser: Marquette

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    Even though Ohio State's football team scored more points on Saturday (60) against Illinois than its basketball team scored against Marquette (52), Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles suffered the second-biggest drop in this week's rankings, falling eight spots to No. 25.

    Four days after scoring 114 points against Grambling State, they could only muster 35 points against the Buckeyes. They shot a ridiculous 18.9 percent from the floor and 5.6 percent from three-point land. Their starting five combined for 12 points, 13 fouls and nine turnovers.

    A few days ago, they were the favorite to win the new Big East.

    It might be a while before they regain our trust.

Winner: Wisconsin

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    Bo Ryan's Badgers haven't comfortably won a game yet this season.

    In the opener against St. John's, the Red Storm were within four with 8:30 left in the game. Florida got to within three points of Wisconsin multiple times in the final five minutes. The Badgers were trailing Green Bay midway through the second half and held just a one-point lead with 90 seconds remaining.

    However, all that matters is that they won the games. In particular, it was the win over Florida that helped vault Wisconsin from No. 20 all the way up to No. 12.

    A low-stress week against North Dakota, Bowling Green and Oral Roberts could push Wisconsin into the top 10 before its showdown with Saint Louis in the Cancun Challenge.

    The Big Ten now has four teams in the top 14 with Iowa and Indiana currently just outside the Top 25 in 26th and 27th place, respectively.

Loser: Florida

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    The Gators started to put things together in the second half against Arkansas Little-Rock on Saturday, but the first 100 minutes of their season were a real struggle.

    To be fair, this team has been all sorts of short-handed thus far.

    Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith was suspended for the first two games of the season for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Scottie Wilbekin and Damontre Harris are still suspended indefinitely for similarly undisclosed violations. Highly touted freshman Chris Walker is academically ineligible to play this semester and might never be able to join the team.

    Perhaps worst of all, big men Will Yeguete and Patric Young have been unable to pick up the slack of a truncated roster. They're combining to average just 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in 48.3 minutes per game.

    If not for Casey Prather's 22.3 points per game, Florida might be 0-3.

    The stretch of consecutive games in early December against Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis should help us figure out if Florida deserves to be ranked. This team should eventually come around as it gets players back from suspensions and into midseason shape, but in the early going it's looking like Kentucky could moonwalk through the SEC this year.

Winner: Creighton

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    Frankly, it's hard to understand how Creighton wasn't already ranked.

    The Bluejays have one of the favorites to win the Wooden Award in power forward Doug McDermott. Already a two-time All-American, McDermott is averaging 25.7 points per game this season.

    Even if they had Muggsy Bogues at center and a department store mannequin at small forward, they should have been in the preseason Top 25.

    The AP voters corrected that wrong—though, not by much—as the Bluejays check in at No. 23 this week.

    Now that they have a ranking, it'll be a lot easier to locate their box scores to find out whether McDermott scored 40 points on a given night.

Loser: Polls in November

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    Kentucky entered the season as the consensus best team in the country, surrounded by aspirations of putting together the first undefeated college basketball season in nearly four decades.

    The Wildcats lost by four points to the new No. 1 team in the nation and destroyed Robert Morris, but suddenly aren't deserving of a single first-place vote.

    How does that work?

    North Carolina played two awful games at home and Marquette had what will likely be the most pathetic offensive output from a major conference team this season, yet they both remain in the Top 25. Meanwhile, teams like Providence, Saint Mary's and Utah State are denied a single vote despite impressive starts to the season.

    That doesn't seem fair.

    The polls are a fun source of debates, but—especially this early in the season—should hardly be regarded as an accurate depiction of the 25 best teams in the country. If you still believe Kentucky is the best team, don't let that No. 4 ranking change your mind.