Winners and Losers from the AP College Basketball Top 25 Rankings in Week 13
It's Monday afternoon on the East Coast, which must mean it's time for some weekly outrage over the winners and losers from the latest AP Top 25 college basketball rankings.
Arizona and Syracuse remain the top two teams in the land for an eighth consecutive week—an impressive streak we'll dig into in a few slides—but there is a new team at No. 3 for the fourth straight week. The spot appears to be cursed, as Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State have combined to go 1-5 over the past three weeks at the third spot, but Florida will look to reverse that bad juju.
At the other end of the poll, Baylor and Kansas State bid adieu to the Top 25 with a combined 0-4 record last week, making room for Creighton to rejoin the rankings and for Texas to make its season debut in the AP Top 25.
Here are the rest of this week's biggest winners and losers.
Winner: Michigan Wolverines
Building on last week's road win over No. 3 Wisconsin, Michigan knocked off No. 10 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State this week, becoming the first team to win three straight games against Top 10 opponents in at least 17 years.
Compared to that stretch of games, playing Purdue, Indiana and Nebraska in the next 10 days should feel like scrimmages against the local YMCA.
On December 27, Michigan was 7-4 and had just learned that Mitch McGary was electing to have back surgery. On January 27, the Wolverines are 7-0 in Big Ten play and making a serious case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Better yet for Michigan, Mlive's Brendan Quinn reports that McGary still hasn't ruled out a comeback for this season.
Loser: Other Big Ten Teams
It was a great week for Michigan.
Not so much for the rest of the Big Ten.
Of the six Top 20 teams who suffered a loss last week, four hail from the Big Ten.
Both Iowa and Michigan State fell victim to Michigan—and in addition to losing a game, the Spartans lost Branden Dawson for a month due to a broken hand. Wisconsin lost by 13 to Minnesota, and Ohio State shockingly lost to Nebraska.
Even Minnesota blew a chance at cracking into the Top 25 by losing to Nebraska on Sunday. And despite wins over both Ohio State and Minnesota, the Cornhuskers' shot at a fantastic week was thwarted by a mid-week loss to Penn State.
Three weeks ago, the Big Ten had three teams ranked in the Top 5—a fact which fans of the conference incessantly referenced in any and every debate about the best conference in the country. Now that it doesn't have a team in the Top 5 or a national championship in the last 13 years, the argument isn't nearly as cut and dry.
Winner: Arizona and Syracuse
Since climbing to the top two spots in the nation nearly two months ago, we have mostly ignored Arizona and Syracuse in this weekly winners and losers article.
But now that they have had a stranglehold on No. 1 and No. 2 for eight straight weeks, things have gotten historical.
This marks just the fourth time in the past 20 years that the same two teams were at the top of the rankings in the same order for eight or more weeks—and the last three duos to pull it off did exceptionally well in that year's NCAA tournament.
During the 2008-09 season, North Carolina and Connecticut were respectively No. 1 and No. 2 for the first eight weeks. The Tar Heels won the national championship and the Huskies advanced to the Final Four.
Duke and Connecticut held the top two spots from weeks 6-13 of the 1998-99 season before playing each other in the national championship.
Massachusetts and Kentucky lasted nine weeks at No. 1 and No. 2 during the 1995-96 season from weeks 7 through 15. The Wildcats won it all that year, eliminating UMass in the Final Four.
That's right. All six teams advanced to the Final Four, producing three national champions. Aside from the losses in games against each other, those six teams went 31-1 in those three tournaments.
Perhaps it's a coincidence, but it might be a good idea to pick both Arizona and Syracuse to win at least four games in your bracket.
Loser: Wichita State Shockers
It would appear Wichita State has reached the ceiling at which the AP voters are desperate to hand votes to anyone other than the Shockers.
Last week, they were leapfrogged by Villanova, but the actual change in the vote count was fairly minimal. Villanova went from 11 votes behind the Shockers to just nine votes ahead of them.
This week, however, was a bit more offensive.
Wichita State was No. 5 last week—65 votes ahead of Florida. When No. 3 Michigan State and No. 4 Villanova suffered losses, traditional voting logic would suggest that Wichita State could expect to move up to No. 3 this week. Yet the Shockers only climbed to No. 4 after getting jumped by the Gators.
It certainly isn't hard to argue that Florida is a better team than Wichita State, but the exact same argument could have been made one week ago. What was it about Wichita State's two road wins by a combined 32 points that made voters suddenly decide that Florida is now superior to the Shockers?
When asked on Twitter what it would take for the Shockers to move higher than No. 5 in his poll, Seth Davis responded "Not sure they can."
Considering Gonzaga made it all the way to No. 1 by the end of last season, this treatment of Wichita State just doesn't seem fair.
Winner: Creighton Bluejays
If there were any lingering fears about Creighton's ability to compete in a "real" conference, they were put to rest by a barrage of three-pointers this week.
It's one thing to win on the road or to beat a Top 5 opponent, but to beat a Top 5 team by 28 points on its home court is just unheard of. Prior to Creighton's 96-68 destruction of Villanova, the worst home loss by a Top 10 team this season was Michigan State's 14-point loss to North Carolina—and it should be noted that the Spartans' three best players were noticeably at less than 100 percent in that game.
Proving the win was no fluke, the Bluejays went on to beat Georgetown by 13 points on Saturday afternoon. Creighton has now won six of its eight Big East games by double digits.
The AP voters weren't quite as impressed as Ken Pomeroy's pythagorean formula, which ranks Creighton as the second-best team in the country, but they did catapult the Bluejays from unranked to No. 20 this week.
Loser: Villanova Wildcats
Last Monday, Villanova climbed into the AP Top 5 for the first time since February 15, 2010.
The Wildcats responded by immediately losing to Creighton by 28 points and getting pushed to overtime by a Marquette team that has had an extremely disappointing season.
In the eight games since opening the season 11-0, they were blown out twice, taken to overtime by inferior teams twice and struggled to pull away from 12-8 St. John's. As of late, they have frankly looked like an average team more often than they have looked like a great one.
In less than a month, Villanova went from the overwhelming favorite to win the Big East to possibly battling Providence and Xavier for the honor of second-best team in the conference.
In the AP poll, the Wildcats dropped from No. 4 to No. 9, suffering one of the biggest drops this week.
Winner: Texas Longhorns
Under normal circumstances, Texas' recent hot streak would be one of the most talked about things in the country.
Unfortunately, Kansas and Michigan have watered down the accomplishment.
When Kansas beat Oklahoma State on Jan. 18, the Jayhawks became the first team to win three consecutive games against ranked opponents since Louisville did so in January 2009. Not only did Kansas go on to beat a fourth straight ranked opponent two days later in the form of Baylor, but Michigan won three straight against teams ranked in the Top 10.
Still, the Longhorns have won three straight against ranked opponents and have a chance to make it four in a row against Kansas on Saturday. They're now 16-4 without a single bad loss and are ranked (No. 25) for the first time this season.
Loser: Big 12 Also-Rans
Mathematically speaking, it was all but inevitable.
With only 10 teams in the Big 12, the best-case scenario for the seventh-best team was an 11-7 record in conference play—and that would only be possible if the top seven teams each went 11-7 while avoiding a single upset at the hands of one of the bottom three teams.
The more likely outcome, though, is that a few teams rise to the top, leaving the sixth- and seventh-place teams desperately fighting for a tournament bid.
After each suffering a pair of losses this week and dropping out of the Top 25, it looks as though Baylor and Kansas State will be the Big 12 teams struggling to achieve a .500 record in conference play.
Baylor in particular is in a world of hurt. The Bears now have a 1-5 conference record and have already suffered a loss to Texas Tech. With three of their next four games coming against ranked opponents, things could get even worse before they get better.
Kansas State received just five votes this week, while Baylor was completely shut out by the AP voters.
Winner: Duke Blue Devils
So much for all of those "What's wrong with Duke?" articles.
In both of Miami's games against Syracuse, the Hurricanes held a lead over the Orange in the final seven minutes, but Duke went on the road and destroyed them, leading by double digits for the last 22 minutes. On Saturday, the Blue Devils handed Florida State its biggest loss of the season.
Duke has now won three consecutive games by more than 20 points, jumping back up to No. 17 in the country.
Should that hot streak continue for another two games, the Blue Devils might be a Top 5 team next Monday. Upcoming road games against Pittsburgh and Syracuse are arguably their two most difficult games of the entire season.
Time to find out whether or not this team is actually ready to contend for a national championship.
Loser: Massachusetts Minutemen
Massachusetts spent an entire month flirting with disaster before finally suffering a loss to Richmond this past week.
However, it wasn't a bad loss by any means. Richmond was favored to win by three points, and that was the final margin. And the Minutemen responded with a 38-point win over Fordham on Sunday. It wouldn't have been a surprise to see them fall one or two spots, but they plummeted from No. 13 all the way to No. 21.
Why the huge drop?
Their biggest mistake was choosing to lose during the week that the teams behind them decided to make their move. Of the eight teams previously directly behind Massachusetts in the polls, Ohio State was the only one to lose, while other teams like Creighton, Texas and Virginia had huge weeks to grab votes as well.
Despite 10 RPI Top 100 wins and the seventh-best RPI in the country, the Minutemen are just barely hanging on to a spot in the AP Top 25.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.
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