For the first time since the 2013-14 season's opening week, there is stability atop the latest Associated Press college basketball poll.
With each of the nation's Top Five teams getting through its Week 6 slate unscathed, only the most minimal changes occurred in the sport's hierarchy. Arizona sticks as the No. 1 team in the nation after just barely extending its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and the Wildcats are followed by Syracuse (10-0) and Ohio State (10-0) nipping at their heels.
The Big Ten represents 60 percent of the Top Five, with No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0) and No. 5 Michigan State (8-1) rounding it out. Here is a look at how the complete Top 25 played out:
|Week 7 Associated Press Top 25|
|Rank||Team (First-Place Votes)||Record||Votes||Previous|
|24||San Diego State||7-1||179||25|
While still deserving of the top ranking, Arizona has to feel fortunate to not have ceded its position. The Wildcats needed to come back from a nine-point halftime deficit against Michigan on Saturday to score a 72-70 victory, capped off by six clutch free throws from Nick Johnson in the final minute. This is Arizona's 31st week as the top-ranked AP team in school history.
Sean Miller's squad, which a week ago became the first Pac-12 squad to hold the AP No. 1 slot since 2006, shouldn't have a tough time making it 32 weeks. Arizona hosts 3-7 Southern in its only game of Week 7.
The Wildcats' feeling of relief is very likely shared by Syracuse, which had a scare of its own this weekend against St. John's. After Orlando Sanchez capped off the Red Storm's comeback from a 12-point halftime deficit to give his team a 60-58 lead, the Orange held St. John's without a field goal in the final 5:48 to sneak out of Madison Square Garden with a 68-63 win.
Ohio State and Wisconsin had no such problems. The Buckeyes pulverized cupcakes Bryant and North Dakota State by a combined 55 points to stay at No. 3. The Badgers, perhaps the nation's most under-covered Top Five squad, defeated Milwaukee and Eastern Kentucky by a combined 51 points. Bo Ryan's squad has used the coach's noted slowed-down scheme to create efficient shots offensively and fluster teams.
Overall, it was a quiet week across the Top 25. The upsets across the nation were essentially nonexistent, with ranked teams losing only against their Top 25 brethren.
That said, you'll have a tough time quelling the panic in Lawrence or Lexington.
Perched atop nearly every preseason Top 25 projection, Kentucky's 2013-14 season is starting to look alarmingly like its NIT run a year ago. The Wildcats' 82-77 loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday was their third defeat in as many games against ranked opponents. They are also 1-3 away from the friendly confines of Rupp Arena, struggles that carry over from last season and could play a huge factor in seedings come March.
Julius Randle has proven every bit worthy of the hype, but John Calipari's roster is showing its weaknesses. Kentucky ranks No. 228 in three-point percentage, which has allowed teams to pack the paint and play zone in an effort to stop Randle. Without improvements from deep, the Wildcats aren't going to compete for a national title—regardless of how many McDonald's All-Americans are wearing white and blue.
Calipari indicated his team shouldn't see a reprieve going forward, per a UNC press release:
I've got good kids, and I'm coaching them hard. I'm all over them at times. They're not bad kids. It's been tough. It's a tough road. It's tough to play here. Every game we play it's a white out, a blue out, a red out. Every game. Not just this game - every game. You knew that when you signed up for this, so you better get ready because it's not changing.
Shooting woes are no stranger to Kansas. The Jayhawks (No. 251) rank even behind Kentucky in three-point percentage, shooting a dreadfully low 32 percent. They owe their back-to-back losses to Colorado last week and No. 16 Florida this past week to being utterly flummoxed by zone defense, leaving Andrew Wiggins out on an island to take over by himself.
While Wiggins responded with his first back-to-back 20-point games of his collegiate career, it's obvious Kansas is better with a team-wide effort. Its 80-63 victory over New Mexico on Saturday came in a contest where Wiggins had only 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Unsurprisingly, North Carolina (7-2) and Florida (7-2) parlayed their victories into a marked bump up the rankings. The Tar Heels, unranked two weeks ago, have moved up to No. 14 already thanks to their triumphs over Michigan State and Kentucky. If they continue their hot streak against a solid Texas (9-1) squad in Week 7, perhaps Roy Williams could get his team back into the Top 10.
"We just kept fighting," sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto said after the Tar Heels' win over Kentucky, via a UNC press release. "You can't give in, even if you do have a slow start, what's giving up going to help? So just keep fighting hard."
Florida, which is playing with a depleted roster, moves to No. 16 on the strength of its defense. The Gators are playing a maximum of eight players per night, but are competing every time down the floor and trying to atone for their shortcomings on offense. The results have been mixed. However, if Billy Donovan can keep his team afloat for this rough stretch, Florida might be in a good position for when the cavalry comes.
Because of the quiet week, the movers and shakers within the Top 25 are minimal. There were no teams that dropped out of the rankings this week.
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