And then there were three.
With the intraconference season in full swing, Arizona, Syracuse and Wichita State are the only remaining unbeatens, and the latest Associated Press rankings reflect those teams' avoidance of the big upset.
The Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the country for the seventh straight week, easily scoring a dominant win over Arizona State in their only game of Week 11. Syracuse sticks at No. 2, but had the more impressive victory with a nail-biter over Pitt. Michigan State, Villanova and Wichita State round out the top of the poll, which again represents a stark change from the one a week prior.
Here is a look at how the rest of the Top 25 played out:
|Rank||Team (First-Place Votes)||Record||Votes||Previous|
|7||San Diego State||16-1||1211||10|
The influx of changes begins not too far away from the top, where formerly third-ranked Wisconsin has been laid to waste. Bo Ryan's Badgers began their week with an upset loss to a scuffling Indiana team in Bloomington and then compounded their struggles with a 77-70 home defeat to Michigan over the weekend.
Typically regarded as one of the nation's best defensive teams, Wisconsin floundered on that end this week. Both the Hoosiers and Wolverines made more than half their shots and got particularly strong play from their guards. Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert and Yogi Ferrell each scored 20 or more points.
"It’s a very humbling game for sure," guard Ben Brust said following the Michigan game, via Wisconsin. "But we have no time to feel sorry for ourselves because we’re (going) on the road and I think everyone knows that it’s not easy to win road games in the Big Ten. It’s a good opportunity for us, I’ll tell you that much."
Wisconsin, which dropped down to No. 9, travels to Minnesota and Purdue this week. The Golden Gophers were a party to another Big Ten upset in Week 11 with their 63-53 triumph over then-No. 11 Ohio State. Overall, 12 different ranked teams suffered at least one loss—with Wisconsin being one of three Top 25 squads to fall twice.
Iowa State, another team to take a tumble, has now lost three straight Big 12 contests and may already be at something of a crossroads. Playing an uptempo style that engenders itself to fans and attracts stellar athletes, the Cyclones have given up an average of 83.3 points per game in their three losses—two of which were to unranked opponents.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla noted just how fleeting the Cyclones', and seemingly all other teams' success, can be in conference play:
Conference play is crazy. A week ago, Iowa State was on top of the world and DeAndreKane was man of the hour. Success is fragile!— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 19, 2014
Iowa State's one loss to a ranked opponent came to Kansas, which may finally be realizing its immense potential. The Jayhawks are off to a 4-0 start in Big 12 play after dropping four non-conference contests, and three of those wins have come against ranked foes. Their win in Ames was a mere prelude to their 80-78 win over then-No. 9 Oklahoma State in a thrilling Saturday showcase.
And they even did it without all their stars performing. Guard Andrew Wiggins had only three points, as Allen Fieldhouse may have been witness to Joel Embiid's coming-out party as the future No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft. Embiid scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and only narrowly missed out on a triple-double with eight blocks.
The seven-foot Cameroonian intimidated Oklahoma State at the rim to the point that 12 of its 26 made field goals were from beyond the three-point arc. Marcus Smart had 16 points, but that came on a frustrating 3-of-14 from the field.
"It was not always him just sitting there, waiting on us," Cowboys coach Travis Ford said, via USA Today's Eric Prisbell. "He came out of nowhere a couple times, which was impressive. It was very impressive. He is so talented."
Kansas, once on the verge of dropping out of the Top 25 heading into conference play, moved up to No. 8. It was one of only a select few teams to see a positive result over the past week, with a plethora of squads either going backward or merely staying inert.
That blueprint is one Mike Krzyzewski hopes his team will follow, as Duke continues to hang on at No. 18 despite more shaky play. The Blue Devils, who were the No. 7 team just three weeks ago, needed a late three-pointer from Rasheed Sulaimon on Jan. 13 to overcome unranked Virginia before seemingly starting to get into a rhythm this past weekend against North Carolina State.
It will be interesting to see whether that was the start of something or merely Duke taking advantage of the weak part of its schedule. With a trip to Miami and a visit from Florida State on the calendar in Week 12, Coach K should be able to have four straight wins buoying his team before contests against Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
In fact, barring upsets, this should be a relatively quiet week in the Top 25. Arizona plays a Colorado team still reeling from the loss of star guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Utah, which has two straight Pac-12 wins but seems a long shot to win in Tucson. Syracuse plays only at Miami—an easy win on paper—with Michigan State's Indiana-Michigan mixer probably being the toughest gauntlet among the nation's five best teams.
Odds are, we will see a bit of normalization in Week 13. That, of course, isn't exactly a bad thing considering how unpredictable the conference season has been so far.
Baylor had the biggest drop back of the week, sliding 12 spots down to No. 24 after a two-loss week. The Bears eclipse Iowa State (eight), Wisconsin and Ohio State (six) for the worst week among those still inside the Top 25. Kansas' big week served as the biggest launching pad for the Jayhawks, while Iowa is a Top 10 team for the first time in more than a decade, per John Bohnenkamp of The Hawk Eye:
Iowa is 10th in the AP poll. First top-10 ranking since 2002.— John Bohnenkamp (@johnbohnenkamp) January 20, 2014
Creighton, Colorado and UCLA dropped out of the rankings. In their places, No. 21 Michigan and No. 22 Kansas State have returned following absences.
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