For the second straight week, chaos reigns supreme in the Associated Press Top 25. With half of the Top 10 dropping at least one game, a major reshuffling was in order for Monday's updated release.
Oklahoma ascended to the top of the rankings after avoiding the Week 10 bloodbath, taking the spot of conference foe Kansas. North Carolina moves to the No. 2 spot, while Kansas, Villanova and Xavier round out the Top Five.
Here is how the entire poll played out:
|AP Top 25 Rankings|
While there are changes across the board, the biggest comes at the top. A week after taking down Oklahoma in a triple-overtime thriller, Kansas failed to pass the test in Morgantown, West Virginia. Jaysean Paige scored 26 points off the bench, and Devin Williams added a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) as West Virginia pulled away for a 74-63 win. The Mountaineers held Kansas to 41.7 percent shooting and took a whopping 47 free throws.
"The game in a nutshell is that they were so much more aggressive and quicker," Kansas coach Bill Self said, per the AP (via ESPN.com). "They were way more athletic than we were and played above the rim. We didn't do any of that."
Unfortunately for West Virginia, it immediately ran into Oklahoma in its following contest. The top-ranked Sooners were able to squeak by on a last-second tip-in from Khadeem Lattin, which gave them a 70-68 victory Saturday. Lon Kruger's team was able to overcome a night when it shot 33.3 percent from the field, taking advantage of a 27-of-32 evening from the free-throw line.
"It's not something our guys focus on or think about every day, necessarily, or even have conversations about, but they're fans," Kruger said of a No. 1 ranking after the win. "We all are, and it's great, but it's all about getting better. Whatever is today is OK, but it's nothing in terms of what we have to keep doing in Big 12 play in terms of getting better to keep challenging the opposition that lies ahead."
Oklahoma is No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in more than a quarter century. Jay Bilas of ESPN noted the Sooners should be good for at least one more win Monday night against Iowa State:
Jay Bilas @JayBilas
Oklahoma will be No. 1 tonight at Iowa State. Cyclones are 1-17 all-time vs No. 1. The win? Over Kansas in 1957 with Wilt Chamberlain.2016-1-18 16:39:07
Top 25 losses continued outside of the Big 12, with Maryland and Michigan State both moving backward after tough weeks. The Terrapins suffered their second loss of the season last Tuesday against Michigan, as Rasheed Sulaimon's game-tying three-point attempt caromed off the rim. The Wolverines knocked down 12 three-pointers and were able to hold Melo Trimble to two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
That loss pales in comparison to the pain felt by Michigan State, which dropped two straight against Iowa and Wisconsin. The ninth-ranked Hawkeyes completed a season sweep with a 76-59 drubbing in East Lansing, their first road win in the series in 23 years. Tom Izzo's team followed that up with a 77-76 road loss against a Wisconsin squad that had just lost to Northwestern.
Also dropping a pair of games over the last week were Miami and Duke, which descended from the top of the ACC pile. The Hurricanes struggled in road tilts against Virginia and Clemson, while the Blue Devils were taken down by those same Tigers and a surprisingly game Notre Dame team. Clemson has won three straight games against ranked opponents heading into Tuesday's tilt at Virginia.
"The most important thing about this winning streak is it's given guys confidence that we can play with the top teams in the country," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, per the AP (via Fox Sports). "And if we play to the best of our abilities we can win."
The losses caused Miami to drop seven spots to No. 15. Duke moved back from No. 9 to No. 20. The Blue Devils are clearly missing Amile Jefferson now more than ever, as Clemson and Notre Dame each won the rebounding battle. Their defensive efficiency has also taken a marked hit without Jefferson, a senior leader, out there barking orders.
Overall, 13 teams ranked inside the Top 25 last week lost at least one game. Nine of those teams were among the first 14 ranked. Looking beyond the Top 10, West Virginia, Providence, Virginia and Kentucky each suffered defeats.
If anything, it's evidence the college basketball landscape is more wide open than ever. Each week it seems we're reshuffling the rankings, largely thanks to teams at the top faltering against supposedly lesser opponents. This parity should lead to a frenetic March scene once the field of 68 is set. For now, things are so crazy it's hard to tell which teams at the top you can actually trust.
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