AP Top 25 College Basketball Rankings: Week 18 Takeaways

    For the first time all season, there are no new teams in the AP Top 25.

    March 7, 2016

    AP Top 25 college basketball rankings and takeaways going into Week 18, including no new teams entering the rankings for the first time all year.

    Well, this is odd.

    For the first time this season, there are no new entrants into the AP Top 25. In fact, there is very little movement in the polls all around, especially in comparison to the erratic fluctuation that we’ve become accustomed to in this strange year of college hoops.

    There were only two upsets throughout this entire past week. Cincinnati took down SMU on its home floor, which isn’t all too surprising, while Virginia Tech stunned Miami with a 15-point victory over the Canes. That’s it. After getting routinely spoon fed heavy doses of upsets and uncertainties week in and week out, it’s strange to see so little change among the nation’s elite.

    Regardless, here’s how the AP rankings have shaped out heading into the conference tournaments:

    1. Kansas (27-4)
    2. Michigan State (26-5)
    3. Villanova (27-4)
    4. Virginia (24-6)
    5. Xavier (26-4)
    6. Oklahoma (24-6)
    7. North Carolina (25-6)
    8. Oregon (25-6)
    9. West Virginia (24-7)
    10. Indiana (25-6)
    11. Miami (FL) (24-6)
    12. Utah (24-7)
    13. Purdue (24-7)
    14. Louisville (23-8)
    15. Arizona (24-7)
    16. Kentucky (23-8)
    17. Texas A&M (24-7)
    18. Maryland (24-7)
    19. Duke (22-9)
    20. Iowa (21-9)
    21. Iowa State (21-10)
    22. Baylor (21-10)
    23. Texas (20-11)
    24. Cal (22-9)
    25. SMU (25-5)

    Miami was the only team to follow the narrative that has become so custom this season, falling to a Virginia Tech team they were expected to walk all over. Even more, had the Canes won, they would’ve set a school record for regular season wins. The sour taste from that loss won’t be going away anytime soon if you’re a fan in Coral Gables, Fla. 

    Regardless, the most accurate description of these past upset-deficient seven days of action was that things were abnormally normal.

    The teams that were supposed to win, won. The teams that were destined to lose, lost. And that’s that.

    Does that mean everything will stay that way throughout the remaining college basketball season? Of course not. It’s called March Madness for a reason. But the madness, which happened to arrive earlier than anyone anticipated, took a bit of a vacation last week.

    It will be back.

    Previewing the most intriguing contests for the upcoming slate will be a bit different this week, seeing as the only games set in stone are the first rounds and quarterfinal rounds of conference tournaments, at least for multi-bid conferences. Regardless, flock to the calendar and pull the sharpie out of that desk drawer. It’s time to circle some key matchups. 

    BYU vs Gonzaga, Monday

    It’s a shame the West Coast Conference is likely going to be a one-bid league. Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s are all good teams with the talent to go dancing in March.

    The Cougars and Gaels picked up some tough losses on the year, though, while Gonzaga has failed to nab any marquee victories — despite numerous opportunities.

    But this game will be fun. The talent levels between both of these squads will be on full display. The key to victory for both the Zags and the Cougars will simply come down to who wants it more.

    The Cougars spoiled Gonzaga’s senior day with a monster victory in the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs exacted revenge during BYU’s senior day to close out the regular season with a three-point victory.

    These past two meetings were well fought and came down to the wire. We can expect no less with so much on the line for both schools. It’s a late game, sure, but it’s one worth staying up for.

    Baylor vs Texas, Thursday

    The Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball. If anyone disagrees, go find another conference where a team like Texas Tech, who has six wins against the RPI Top 50, is listed as the No. 7 seed in the tournament.

    But the reason this Baylor-Texas quarterfinal matchup stands out is solely because of the previous meeting between the two teams. Back on Feb. 20, a contest highly-anticipated to be a neck-and-neck battle turned into a one-sided offensive onslaught. Baylor dropped 40 first-half points and didn’t look back, blowing the Longhorns out of the water in Austin, Texas.

    So, naturally, Texas will be quenched for retribution.

    Expect the Longhorns to double down on Johnathan Motley, who led the charge for the Bears in the previous matchup with 24 points on 12-of-13 shooting from the floor. Shaka Smart won’t allow that to happen again — not with what’s at stake.

    Is it safe to expect that wild duel we falsely anticipated back on February 20th? Absolutely. Will we be so lucky as to be rewarded with such a match? Let’s hope so.

    Northwestern vs Michigan, Thursday

    Okay, obviously the stakes for this game aren’t to the highest caliber considering it’s a quarterfinal matchup. But the semifinals for the Big Ten, or any Power Five conference tournament, won’t be set until these matches take place first.

    That’s not to say this game doesn’t hold any implications, though.

    Michigan finds itself sitting firmly on the bubble, squeaking into the tournament as part of the last four in, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. A loss to Northwestern would promptly pop the Wolverines’ bubble, likely eliminating their tournament hopes all together.

    And don’t sleep on the Wildcats, either. Despite the loss in its previous game against Michigan, Northwestern shot 47 percent from the floor and had a higher three point percentage than the Maize and Blue as well. The Wildcats certainly aren’t the favorite heading into Thursday, but they shouldn’t be overlooked.

    The Cats may be the determining factor in whether it’s six teams or seven teams representing the Big Ten in March Madness.

    MORE: NCAA Basketball Rankings, Week 18: Power 32


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