The Associated Press college basketball poll is prone to seismic shifts when its top teams suffer defeats, even if the losses are to other high-profile teams. Since not every team can be feasting on cupcakes the way top-ranked Indiana has, the AP voters tend to punish those who schedule bravely.
Conversely, those who do schedule well can sometimes be rewarded, but it can be hard to tell the hard-fought 3-0 record from the one stuffed with creampuffs. Let's examine the teams whose rankings fluctuated the most this week and how much sense those fluctuations make.
WINNER: No. 5 Duke
The veteran Blue Devils showed Kentucky's new crop of Wildkittens that they still had some growing up to do, even on defense. While the 75 points allowed isn't an eye-catching number on its face, the game only featured 64 possessions, meaning that Duke racked up 117.2 points per 100. Only three times in John Calipari's Kentucky tenure has an opponent run a more efficient offense.
LOSER: No. 8 Kentucky
The Wildcats got docked five positions for losing to another top-10 squad, a classic dose of voter overreaction. Too many votes are handed out simply based on wins and losses, with no consideration for who the team actually played. Do No. 4 Michigan's wins over IUPUI and Cleveland State really make it that much better than a UK team that fell to Duke?
WINNER: No. 7 Florida
The Gators moved up three spots from last week, and unlike Michigan and Syracuse, they earned the bump. Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee both came to the O-Dome and limped home with lopsided defeats. It's not likely Erik Murphy has any more 10-for-10 nights like he had against the Badgers, but the mere threat of him dropping 20 will open up a lot more opportunities for Kenny Boynton and Patric Young.
LOSER: No. 12 Kansas
The Jayhawks took a five-spot drop from last week, provoked by losing to a Michigan State team that got hosed in last week's poll. Sparty was and is better than a No. 21 team, no matter how they may have looked against a UConn team that is playing for little more than its new coach's future. This may actually be closer to where KU belongs until Ben McLemore has a few more games like last Thursday's against Chattanooga (25 points, eight rebounds).
WINNER: No. 15 Michigan State
The Spartans got a combined 37 points from Keith Appling and freshman Gary Harris against Kansas. If the two combine for more games like that, Sparty will climb back into the top 10 sooner rather than later.
LOSER: No. 16 N.C. State
Shoot 28 percent from the floor, like the Wolfpack did against Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game, and you probably deserve to take a dive in the polls. The Pack have six players averaging 9.8 points per game or better, but freshmen Rodney Purvis (pictured right) and T.J. Warren probably shouldn't be leading the team this soon.
WINNER: No. 20 Oklahoma State
Freshman guard Marcus Smart turned in a top-flight performance against N.C. State. Even when his shot hasn't been on (see his first two games), he's crashing the glass and playing supremely pesky defense. He's also helped Le'Bryan Nash top 16 points in each of his first four games.
LOSER: No. 19 Memphis
Wait a minute, Memphis didn't even lose last week and still dropped two spots. Of course, struggling in a home game against mighty Samford (up by only three with 3:30 to go) will do that to you. It does show that perhaps some AP voters do pay attention to the actual games and not just the scores. At times though, that attention does seem kind of selective.
WINNER: No. 23 Colorado
The Buffs stomped their way to a Charleston Classic title over Dayton, Baylor and Murray State, three teams that have varying degrees of NCAA tournament buzz. It's difficult to get too excited over a team that shoots 4-of-18 from the foul line, as CU did against Baylor, but the fact that the Buffaloes out rebounded the Bears' big, athletic front line shows that CU backs down from no team.
LOSER: No. 24 Baylor
Like Michigan State losing to UConn on opening night, Baylor's loss to Colorado has caused an extreme over-correction. The voters can't decide if Baylor's worse than they thought or Colorado's better. As a result, CU jumps up only three spots, while Baylor tumbles eight.
NEXT WEEK: Minnesota and Pitt have chances for big statement wins against Duke and Michigan, respectively. Texas can also make a statement if it takes home the title in Maui (although as I finish this piece, the Longhorns trail Chaminade at halftime, never a good sign).
No. 18 UNLV and No. 19 Memphis also face tough tests this week. The Rebels host Oregon, newly bolstered with Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi, while Memphis starts the loaded Battle 4 Atlantis against VCU.
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