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Basketball AP Top 25 (Week 18): UNC Proves Superiority Over Duke

UNC Was All Over Duke This Weekend (Getty Images)

1. Kentucky (63)

I have trouble seeing them lose another game this season.

2. Syracuse (2)

The Orange have a #1 seed locked up, and are 30-1. They’ve proven to be the class of the Big East. Given the grueling nature of the conference tournament though, there is a very reasonable possibility that they could be upset. They don’t have anything to gain and may actually be weakened in the long run if they win the tournament. This isn’t to say that they will throw a game or anything, just that their respective hearts may not be in it.

3. Kansas

This year marks the Jayhawks’ eighth consecutive Big 12 title. While this isn’t particularly surprising, it is amazing. Now, if I may, I’d like to float a semi-ridiculous idea. Given the conference realignment talk the past few years and the seeming inevitability that the Big 12 will be split up, Kansas may never finish worse than first in the Big 12 again.

4. North Carolina

Even though they only split their games with Duke this year, I think we can safely say that UNC is the better team. After going up 22-5 Saturday night, the teams played a game that was pretty much even. That’s all the Tar Heels need though – a few minutes of poor play can put the game out of reach. With the win, it is almost certain that UNC will be a #1 seed while Duke will be a #2 seed. Given their proximity in the current rankings and the way the s-curve sets up every year, there is a legitimate possibility that that these two teams will be placed in the same region. How exciting.

5. Missouri

In one of the best seasons in Tigers history, how much credit should Frank Haith get? It’s his first year as coach, and these aren’t the players he recruited. However, he has helped guide them to some big wins, a 27-4 record, and a presumed #2 seed. In addition, he’s done all of this with almost no bench while playing a style that calls for a deep bench.

6. Duke
7. Ohio State
8. Michigan State
9. Marquette
10. Michigan

Michigan State lost to #7 Ohio State and #15 Indiana last week, but only fell from #5 to #8. I’m not fooled though. Tom Izzo’s teams have a habit of moving quietly through the season before exploding in the tournament. Those losses will knocked them down to #3 or #4 seed, which is an ideal position for them.

11. Murray State
12. Baylor
13. Georgetown
14. Wisconsin
15. Indiana

That’s right, Michigan State, Marquette, Michigan, and Murray State are all in order. This means nothing, but the chances of such an arrangement happening are exceedingly rare. In semi-related news, I can’t imagine any of these teams doing anything worthwhile in the tournament.

16. Wichita State
17. Florida State
18. San Diego State
19. Creighton
20. UNLV

After a season of mid-majors that America has no real memory of (hello Wichita and Murray State), expect Creighton to become a fan favorite in the next week. People know who they are, even if they haven’t been that great the last few years. They’re the kind of mid-major most people can name, and strike the perfect balance between “institutional constant” and “random trade school” that people feel comfortable picking them for an upset. They’re ranked, but that’s a recent development, so people will be able to talk themselves into thinking they’ve been undervalued. Don’t fall into this trap.

21. Temple
22. Florida
23. Notre Dame
24. Gonzaga
25. Iowa State

It is very rare for a team to jump up to #25 after a week in which they lost a game. While they lost to #5 Missouri and then beat a #12 Baylor team that is vulnerable, at most those two games should balance each other out. What a strange situation.

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