AP Top 25 College Basketball Rankings: Week 16 Takeaways

    AP Top 25 college basketball rankings and takeaways going into Week 16 including the rising stocks of the Duke Blue Devils and Baylor Bears.

    February 22, 2016


    AP Top 25 college basketball rankings and takeaways going into Week 16 including the rising stocks of the Duke Blue Devils and Baylor Bears.


    (Sigh)

    Another week, another mundane routine of the nation’s top teams stumbling to unexpected foes.

    Last week, 18 teams listed in the AP polls added another tally to the loss column. This week, 15 teams have fallen victim to that same dreadful fate, three of them coming from the top five.

    Nothing out of the ordinary here!

    1. Villanova (24-3)
    2. Kansas (23-4)
    T-3. Virginia (21-5)
    T-3. Oklahoma (21-5)
    5. Xavier (24-3)
    6. Michigan State (22-5)
    7. North Carolina (22-5)
    8. Iowa (20-6)
    9. Arizona (22-5)
    10. Maryland (23-5)
    11. Louisville (21-6)
    12. Miami (21-5)
    13. Oregon (21-6)
    14. West Virginia (21-7)
    15. Duke (20-7)
    16. Kentucky (20-7)
    17. Iowa State (19-8)
    18. Indiana (22-6)
    19. Baylor (20-7)
    20. Purdue (21-7)
    21. Texas A&M (20-7)
    22. Utah (21-7)
    23. Notre Dame (18-8)
    24. SMU (22-4)
    25. Texas (17-10)


    After one of the wildest Tobacco Road showdowns in recent years, the Duke Blue Devils jumped up five spots to No. 15 in the country after taking down North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. The biggest takeaway from that matchup isn’t that North Carolina is struggling, though; it’s that Duke has returned.

    The Blue Devils are clawing their way out of the hole they dug themselves into last month. Despite following that victory with a loss at Louisville, Duke appears to be getting back on the usual track its grown accustom to for so many years.

    Meanwhile, despite the conventional week of “Upset City,” the only newcomers to this week’s polls are the Texas A&M Aggies and Utah Utes.

    Like Duke, Texas A&M is trying to rebound after the rut it fell into throughout the past month. The win over Kentucky is a major leap forward for the Aggies, especially considering the remainder of their regular season schedule is severely lacking in “prove it” games. Kentucky was its last chance to make a statement before the SEC Tournament, and the Aggies aced the test.

    Utah, on the other hand, has gone on a bit of a run of its own. The Utes took down an underrated Washington team and followed that up with a 39-point pounding of the Washington State Cougars. Combine that with wins over UCLA and USC, and the Jakob Poeltl-led Utes seem to have gained some momentum on the West Coast.

    Lastly, the Baylor Bears simply cannot go unrecognized. After hitting the century mark in the impressive win over Iowa State, the Bears went on the road to face the Longhorns and looked flawless.

    Forward Johnathan Motley is emerging as a serious threat for the Bears after shooting a scorching 12-of-13 from the floor. Baylor is going to need to keep this hot streak going with games against Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia still remaining to close out the regular season.

    Everyone’s talking about the Sooners and Jayhawks as the main contenders for the Big 12 Championship, but omitting Baylor from the conversation would be a foolish move.

    Now, then, let’s circle those calendars.  


    Wisconsin vs Iowa, Wednesday

    The loss to Michigan State last week was discouraging for the Badgers, but don’t let that discount their victories over Indiana and Maryland.

    There is a chance that it’s too little, too late for Wisconsin, given its horrendous start to the season. But if a win over Iowa were to be added to their resume, the Badgers’ chances of dancing in March would receive a considerable boost.

    But first… they have to beat Iowa. And as we’ve all learned this year, that is no easy task.

    However, the Hawkeyes are coming off an appalling loss to Penn State in which they shot a measly 33 percent from three-point land. That kind of play didn’t cut it against the Nittany Lions, and it certainly won’t do them any favors against the Badgers.

    Iowa may have home court advantage on its side this time, but Wisconsin still seems primed to leave Iowa City, Iowa with a win. Prior to its loss to PSU, Iowa stumbled on the road to Indiana and narrowly escaped a loss on its home floor to Minnesota, 75-71.

    The Hawkeyes seem to have cooled off a bit. Expect Greg Gard’s squad to take full advantage and add another quality win to boast to the committee.


    Texas Tech vs Kansas, Saturday

    The Red Raiders deserve a standing ovation.

    Yes, they’ve had their fair share of losses this season. It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies for Texas Tech, but that was expected.

    What was not expected from the Red Raiders was consecutive wins over Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to go along with victories against Texas and an underrated Hawaii team on the year.

    Tubby Smith seems to have his team’s confidence sky-high at the moment, and it truly seems like Texas Tech can take down any team in the country. Can it keep the magic going against Kansas? The Jayhawks already defeated the Red Raiders earlier in the year, but that was weeks ago. The mood in Lubbock, Texas has vastly shifted since that loss.

    Playing in Allen Fieldhouse will likely give Kansas the edge here. But at this point, who knows what to expect?


    North Carolina vs Virginia, Saturday

    How did North Carolina bounce back after the wild loss in the Tobacco Road? By slaughtering the then-No. 11 Miami Hurricanes in a critical game in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

    The Tar Heels took control over the top spot in the ACC after releasing their frustrations against the Canes in the form of 54 percent shooting from the floor. The question now is whether they can keep the hot hand against a defense as stingy and persistent as Virginia’s.

    The Hoos’ only loss in their past nine games came at the hands of Duke — in controversial fashion. If Grayson Allen had been called for traveling like many have persisted he should have been, Virginia would currently be perceived in an even brighter light.

    Regardless, both of these teams seem to be playing top-notch basketball as of late. This will undoubtedly be a fun matchup.

    MORE: Jordan Cornette’s Power 12 College Basketball Rankings, Week 16

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