Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 8

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystDecember 23, 2013

Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 8

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    The AP's 65 college basketball voters compiled their lists of the best teams in the countrychecking them twice, of courseand the resulting Top 25 rankings are chock full of winners and losers.

    For a second consecutive week, there was not a single loss among any of the teams previously ranked in the Top 9. Movements at the top of the poll were thus few and far between.

    However, there were losses by seven of the teams ranked No. 10 through No. 23. Perhaps just as notably, the teams who were ranked No. 26, No. 27 and No. 28 in last week's poll also suffered a loss in the past seven days.

    Chaos ensued, as voters were still required to come up with 25 teams. The number of teams now listed in the "Others receiving votes" category nearly doubled from eight to 14.

    While we're in relative agreement on the 10 best teams in the country, spots 11 through 30 are very much there for the taking.

Winner: San Diego State and Iowa

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    San Diego State and Iowa combined to win each of their three games in the past week by a total of 91 points.

    While that was happening, every other team ranked between No. 20 and No. 28 lost one game.

    Were victories over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, McNeese State and Southern Utah really that impressive for the Aztecs and Hawkeyes? Not in the least. But compared to the wasteland of teams surrounding them in the rankings, they had an incredibly successful week.

    As a result, they each added about 200 votes in this week's poll.

Loser: Toledo Rockets

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    I've now been banging the Toledo drum for nearly a full month.

    In the early stages of this campaign, I could at least appreciate the lack of respect. There were 21 undefeated teams, and the voters couldn't very well dole out love to each and every one of them.

    But now there are only nine teams left in the country without a blemish on their record. Eight of those teams received more than 800 votes this week, while Toledo picked up just 27.

    Assuming the Rockets can take care of 4-7 Coppin State on Saturday to remain undefeated next Monday, the pollsters absolutely need to get them into next week's Top 25. It would give us a showdown between ranked teams when Toledo visits Kansas on December 30.

Winner: Oklahoma Sooners

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    It's always comical when a bunch of teams on the back end of the Top 25 lose in a given week and the voters are suddenly scrambling to figure out which previously unranked teams should get their stamp of approval. 

    With UCLA, Pittsburgh and Saint Mary's also losing, the voters didn't even have the luxury of simply handing votes to teams who were previously just on the outskirts of the Top 25.

    One of the biggest benefactors of that chaos was Oklahoma.

    The Sooners darn near lost to Texas-Arlington last Tuesday, but all was forgiven when they handed Texas A&M a 12-point loss on Saturday. As a result, their vote total skyrocketed from four to 65missing out on the Top 25 by just four votes.

    Texas also made quite the leap this week, picking up 47 votes and checking in at No. 28. That puts 60 percent of the Big 12 in the top eight percent of the country.

Loser: New Members of the ACC

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    Tuesday night was Pittsburgh's chance to prove it belonged in the Top 25.  Despite entering the game with a 10-0 record, many were skeptical about the Panthers' strength of schedule.

    As it turns out, they were right to have worried. Not only did the Panthers play in arguably the most unwatchable game of the entire season, but they lost to the Cincinnati Bearcats in a game in which they only gave up 44 points.

    Elsewhere among new ACC schools, Notre Dame blew an eight-point lead in the final 50 seconds against Ohio State on Saturday night. Adding to an already disappointing weekend for the Fighting Irish, their leading scorer, Jerian Grant, was dismissed from the team on Sunday due to academic issues.

    After opening the season ranked No. 21 in the country, Notre Dame is suddenly looking like one of the worst teams in the ACC.

    Last on the list, No. 2 Syracuse briefly gave us a fright on Friday night against High Point. The Orange trailed by one with just over 16 minutes remaining in the game, but used a 28-3 run over the next 11 minutes to make the final score much less interesting than the first 24 minutes were.

    Though they remain undefeated, it was the second consecutive game in which the Orange trailed an unranked opponent in the second half. Not exactly a promising lead-in to this Saturday's game against Villanova.

Winner: Kansas Jayhawks

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    Very few teams outside the Top 9 displayed anything resembling dominance this week.

    Connecticut, Memphis and North Carolina each lost a game. Baylor, Oregon and Wichita State were each pushed to the brink by a team nowhere near anyone's Top 25.

    And then there's Kansas, which simply eviscerated Georgetown.

    With that and last Saturday's 17-point win over New Mexico, the Jayhawks are finally starting to look like a team that belongs in the national championship discussion.

    The scary thing for fans of every team other than Kansas is that Andrew Wiggins was hardly even a factor in either of those big wins. If the Jayhawks can beat quality opponents by double digits when one of their best players is barely averaging one point per field-goal attempt, I'd love to hear how anyone plans on stopping this team when Wiggins is scoring like he should.

Loser: West Coast Conference

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    For a brief moment, it was looking like the WCC could be making a run at the Mountain West and Atlantic-10 for the honor of best non-power conference.

    That all changed drastically this weekend.

    It started on Friday night in a game that at least 90 percent of college basketball fans didn't even know was played. Pacific lost by 25 to Princeton in a battle between teams who previously had an 8-1 record. The West Coast Tigers had just two assists in the game, while the East Coast Tigers had 22 dimes.

    On Saturday, Gonzaga lost to Kansas State and BYU fell to Oregon in overtime.

    To cap it all off, Saint Mary's perfect season came to an end on Sunday night when the Gaels handed South Carolina its third win of the year. Had they avoided that disaster scenario, they almost certainly would have cracked into the Top 25 this week.

Winner: Wichita State Shockers

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    It took a loss by Connecticut to get them there, but the Shockers finally crept into the Top 10 this week.

    Get used to that sight, because the worst part of their schedule is in the rear-view mirror. Compared to a neutral-site game against BYU and road games against Saint Louis and Alabama, the Missouri Valley should be a walk in the park.

    So how long will it be before we start taking Wichita State seriously as a threat to go undefeated? It might not become a national obsession until it is the final remaining unbeaten team, but the wheels are already in motion. Jump on the bandwagon while there's still room.

Loser: Connecticut Huskies

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    It would appear that the AP voters had been dying to drop Connecticut as soon as rationally possible.

    The writing was on the wall last week when Villanova jumped the Huskies for no discernible reason. The teams combined to play just one game in the seven days before last week's poll, and if you didn't already think Villanova was better than Connecticut, I'm not sure how a win over a hapless La Salle team changed your mind.

    This past week, the Huskies lost by two points to Stanford, won by 12 at Washington and plummeted five spots in the rankings.

    Meanwhile, Colorado lost the only game it played (against Oklahoma State) and merely dropped one spot.

    What exactly does the AP have against Kevin Ollie and Shabazz Napier?

Winner: Poll Voter Ron Morris

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    In our weekly obligatory look at the individual ballots of the 65 AP voters, we're giving a tip of the cap to Ron Morris of Columbia, S.C.'s The State newspaper.

    If you've watched Florida play over the past several weeks, I'm not sure how you can come to any conclusion other than that the Gators are one of the best teams in the country.

    As our very own C.J. Moore tweeted after Florida's win over Memphis on Tuesday, "If I were ranking based on current state and ignoring season-long results, I think Gators are top (two) or (three)."

    And yet Morriswho had the Gators at No. 5 this weekwas the only voter to have them that high. A few voters put the Gators on the back end of their Top 10, but Seth Davis is the next-most optimistic about Florida at No. 8 in his ranking.

    It's more than just his appreciation for Florida that makes Morris a winner, though. He has Oklahoma State and Louisville in his top three and Kansas at No. 10. Those are some bold stances compared to the cumulative poll, but based on how those teams are playing at the moment, it would be difficult to argue against any of those rankings.

Loser: Duke Blue Devils

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    Dear Duke,

    Congratulations on your 17-point victory over 9-1 UCLA in New York City!

    You played impeccable defense in the second half against one of the most efficient offenses in the country. Quinn Cook has truly emerged as one of the best point guards the college game has to offer, and we are intrigued to find out if Rasheed Sulaimon's success will continue in upcoming games.

    Unfortunately, we felt that Villanova's 21-point home win over 5-4 Rider was more impressive.

    Thus, despite being tied with Villanova for eighth place in last week's poll, you now trail it by eight votes this week.

    We hope you understand.


    AP Voters

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.