Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings...

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 3, 2014

Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings...

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    Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

    The latest AP Top 25 has been published, and with all the shake-up in the past seven days, there was no shortage of winners and losers.

    The teams that made up last Monday's Top 25 had a combined record of 562-116 on the season—a winning percentage of 82.9 percent. In the past seven days, though, they won just 63 percent of their 46 games.

    Despite it being an ugly week for the Top 25, the top three teams did just fine. Florida struggled with Vanderbilt on Tuesday night, but bounced back with an 18-point win over LSU on Saturday to remain No. 1 in the nation.

    After the loss to Florida, LSU head coach Johnny Jones told reporters (h/t ESPN), "I think when you have a senior team like they are and guys are able to make plays like that and are used to winning, some great things can happen for you."

    Wichita State improved to 31-0 with a pair of blowout wins over Bradley and Missouri State, and Arizona kept the pressure on the top two teams with an equally convincing week against considerably better opposition.

    Beyond that, though, things got a bit crazy.

    There were four teams—Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio State and Saint Louis—which lost multiple games. Not surprisingly, they all plummeted in the rankings and were four of the week's five biggest losers.

    Teams like Connecticut and New Mexico benefited greatly from their fallen comrades. The Huskies and the Lobos combined to jump 11 spots in this week's poll.

    Here are the rest of your biggest winners and losers.

Winner: Virginia Cavaliers

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    It's pretty hard to jump seven spots this late in the season—especially when your team was already ranked No. 12 in the country—but the Cavaliers have earned it.

    Prior to beating Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, Virginia had the quietest 12-game winning streak in major-conference history.

    Since barely losing at Duke on Jan. 13, the Cavaliers have been undefeated. And after making a complete mockery of the Orange, they have finally made a long-overdue appearance in the AP Top 10.

    Adding in Wednesday's 65-40 win over Miami, Virginia has now held 10 of its last 11 opponents to 58 or fewer points. During this 11-game stretch, the Cavaliers have averaged 1.14 points per possession as compared to 0.90 points allowed per possession.

    Long story short, this team is no fluke. The 16-1 record in ACC play should have proven that by now, but people sure have been slow to believe in Virginia for some strange reason.

    Perhaps now that the Cavaliers are ranked No. 5 in the country, they'll get some more love from the non-voting public.

Loser: Saint Louis Billikens

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    Prior to Feb. 17, it had been 50 years since Saint Louis was in the AP Top 10.

    The Billikens' two-week reign at No. 10 came to a screeching halt this week. They entered the week with 19 consecutive wins before losing at home to Duquesne and getting beaten at VCU.

    Wait a minute. A team with a long winning streak that inexplicably lost a home game to a terrible team before losing a road game against a quality team—where have I heard that one before?

    When Syracuse followed that pattern, the Orange merely dropped three spots from No. 1 to No. 4. However, Saint Louis got the mid-major treatment, plummeting seven spots to No. 17.

    Frankly, it's a little surprising the Billikens didn't drop any farther, but they can thank losses by Kentucky, Michigan State and others for that.

Winner: New Mexico Lobos

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    New Mexico's wins this week were about as noteworthy as Southern Utah's losses, but a funny thing happens when you're ranked 25th and the eight teams ahead of you post a 6-9 record for the week.

    You move up, and you do so in a hurry.

    The Lobos did improve to 23-5 and all but ensured that Saturday's rematch with San Diego State will determine the winner of the Mountain West regular-season championship. Let's not completely overlook their achievement by pretending that their rise to No. 21 was entirely due to external factors.

    However, they certainly wouldn't have leapfrogged Iowa, Kentucky and Ohio State this week if those teams had decided to actually show up to play.

Loser: Ohio State Buckeyes

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    And here we thought the Buckeyes had turned their season back around.

    After opening the season 15-0, you might recall that Ohio State lost five out of six games to drop out of the AP Top 25. But, wins in six out of seven gamesincluding victories over Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesotaseemed to have turned the tide back in Ohio State's favor.

    Now we're right back where we were a month ago.

    There are much worse teams out there than Penn State and Indiana, but losing on the road in consecutive games to those teams isn't exactly a great way to promote confidence in a squad that was once expected to contend for a B1G championship.

    The Buckeyes will need to beat Michigan State next weekend to avoid a 9-9 finish in conference play.

    Needless to say, they're no longer in the AP Top 25.

Winner: Michigan Wolverines

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    Michigan wasn't quite one of the biggest movers of the weekclimbing just four spots to No. 12but the Wolverines get a tip of our cap for locking up the No. 1 seed in the B1G conference tournament.

    They haven't mathematically clinched an outright regular-season title. However, based on the projections on KenPom.com (subscription required) there's a 79-to-1 chance that Michigan loses both its remaining games against Illinois and Indiana while Michigan State wins its two games against Iowa and Ohio State.

    Don't go popping the champagne just yet, but feel free to start unwrapping the cork.

    The Wolverines' win over Minnesota on Saturday was their eighth RPI Top 50 win since Dec. 21.

    Only Kansas (12) and Arizona (nine) have more such wins over the course of the entire season.

Loser: Syracuse Orange

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    Knowing what we know now about the teams that Syracuse has played, it's a fun exercise to look back through the season to try and figure out when it was actually a great team.

    Honestly, when was the last time you watched the Orange play and thought they looked like a Final Four team? 

    Those consecutive wins over Minnesota, California and Baylor were impressive back in November, but now they have merely three wins against bubble teams. 

    The 16-point win over Villanova was nice, but the Orange were down 25-7 in that game. The next 31 minutes might have been among the best that any team has played this season, but they sure looked awful during the first nine minutes.

    The win over North Carolina seems great now, but that was back when the Tar Heels were on the bubble and still trying to rediscover themselves in the wake of P.J. Hairston's dismissal.

    Both games against Duke were a blast to watch, but those are two of just five games that Syracuse has played against the RPI Top 40 this season.

    Another one of those games was the blowout loss to Virginia on Saturday, which sent Syracuse slip-sliding to No. 7 in this week's AP Top 25.

    I want to believe in the Orange. Their inaugural season in the ACC has made that much more difficult to do.

Winner: Villanova Wildcats

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Villanova had been quietly starting to struggle.

    After getting blown out by Creighton for the second time this season, the Wildcats tiptoed their way past Providence and St. John'sbeating each of those bubble teams by just three points.

    Their computer profile mandated consideration for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in projected brackets, but their play over the course of that week kept many of us from wanting to believe in them.

    Convincing wins over Butler and Marquette might help resolve that problem.

    The final margin against Butler ended up being just 19 points. I say "just" because they had a 29-point lead late in the game before calling off the dogs. It could've easily been a 40-point game if Jay Wright and company were interested in really sending a message.

    Sunday's 17-point victory over Marquette was a bit of a no-doubter from the beginning, as well.

    Those wins, in conjunction with losses by Kansas, Louisville and Syracuse, were enough to propel Villanova back up to No. 6 in the country.

Loser: Iowa Hawkeyes

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    JIM SLOSIAREK/Associated Press

    Iowa has played its way onto the bubble, and not in a good way.

    The Hawkeyes lost to Wisconsin last Saturday. Subsequent road losses to Minnesota and Indiana turned that into a three-game losing streak and saddled them with their two worst losses of the season.

    They avoided complete disaster by winning at home against Purdue on Sunday, but that was a two-point game in the final minute. If the Boilermakers hadn't missed four of their last five free-throw attempts, it might have been a different story.

    Iowa now has nine losses and will likely be picking up a 10th later this week at Michigan State. If the Hawkeyes follow that up with a home loss to Illinois on Saturday, things could get very interesting in the eyes of the selection committee.

    The Hawkeyes amazingly remained in the Top 25 at No. 24, but that's primarily because the voters couldn't seem to agree whether VCU, Stephen F Austin, UCLA or Gonzaga was most worthy of replacing Iowa and Kentucky this week.

Winner: North Carolina Tar Heels

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    The Tar Heels didn't have a fantastic week by any stretch of the imagination. They needed a last-second layup in overtime to beat North Carolina State and never could quite pull away from Virginia Tech, ultimately beating the worst team in the ACC by just four points.

    However, it was a survive-and-advance type of week. Simply not losing any games this week was the equivalent of picking up a signature victory in any other seven-day period. The Tar Heels jumped from No. 19 to No. 14.

    Truth be told, they already deserved to be at least that high in the polls. We had them ranked No. 10 last week, and they climbed even higher in this week's B/R experts poll. They have won 11 in a row and still have three of the most impressive nonconference wins of any team in the country.

    If they can win at Duke on Saturday, they will be the No. 3 seed in the ACC tournament.

    Who could have guessed that six weeks ago?

Loser: Kentucky Wildcats

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    Through all of their struggles this season, the Wildcats had never dipped below No. 19 in the AP Top 25.

    That changed in a big way this week, as Kentucky was kicked from No. 17 all the way to No. 25 after a home loss to Arkansas and falling to South Carolina on the road. 

    There's still hope for Big Blue Nation, though. Maybe John Calipari's ejection on Saturday will fire the team up and ignite the fire that it has been lacking for the past three-and-a-half months.

    The sum of the parts might not be doing much better now than it was a year ago, but any non-blind human being would agree that the parts themselves are improved over last season. There are seven different guys on this team who could legitimately score at least 15 points on any given night.

    If this team ever decides to click, it'll be scary. However, the only things clicking as of late have been the seatbelts of Kentucky's supporters embracing for impact.

    The Wildcats are 1-4 vs. RPI Top 45 and have another four losses even further below the radar. It seems unthinkable that they would lose a home game to Alabama on Tuesday, but it sure would make for an interesting tournament-bubble conversation the following day if they did.

Winner: Connecticut Huskies

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    It was Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part III who said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in," but it could have just as easily been said by this year's Connecticut team.

    Everyone was on the Huskies bandwagon back in November and early December before the home loss to Stanford and road losses to Houston and SMU. They got back in our good graces with a season sweep of Memphis, only to lose to SMU for a second time.

    All in all, they've now been hovering somewhere between No. 15 and No. 31 in AP rankings for 11 consecutive weeks. But after beating Cincinnati on Saturday, Connecticut is back in the Top 25 at No. 19.

    There's still a lot left to be determined in how we will view Connecticut one week from today. The Huskies could still enter the AAC tournament seeded anywhere between No. 1 and No. 5.

    A road win over Louisville on Saturday would go a long way toward ensuring that Connecticut finishes the season as a ranked team.

     

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