Predicting the College Basketball AP Top 25 Poll for Week 13

    Week 12 of the college basketball season saw the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP Top 25 poll square off as Kentucky defeated Kansas in the

    January 27, 2019

    Week 12 of the college basketball season saw the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP Top 25 poll square off as Kentucky defeated Kansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The two schools are trending in opposite directions as February approaches.

    Here’s how we predict the Week 13 college basketball AP Top 25 poll will look Monday.

     

    1. Tennessee (18-1): The Volunteers’ winning streak is up to 14 games but they’ve looked a bit shaky in their last three. After holding off Alabama 71-68 at home on January 19, Tennessee needed overtime to beat Vanderbilt on the road Wednesday. The Vols found themselves facing their largest deficit of the season at home to West Virginia Saturday. Wins are wins and not every victory will be by a double-digit margin, so there’s no reason to worry about Tennessee but it’s recent results were probably too close for comfort for the Vols given the opponents.

     

    2. Duke (17-2): The Blue Devils trailed by eight points at home on Saturday in the second half against Georgia Tech but they capitalized on a series of Yellow Jackets turnovers and won by 13 despite a 2-of-21 day from behind the arc. Duke’s three-point shooting (30.2% for the season) is a real concern but the Blue Devils should be favored in the rest of their regular season games with the exception of their trip to Virginia on February 9.

     

    3. Virginia (18-1): After suffering its first loss of the season at Duke, Virginia won both of its games last week at home against Wake Forest and on the road at Notre Dame. The Cavaliers started the game against the Demon Deacons on a 25-3 run and they jumped out to a 14-4 lead against the Fighting Irish. Virginia is ranked No. 1 on kenpom.com, as well as in offensive turnover percentage (13.5%) and defensive three-point percentage (24.9%).

     

    4. Gonzaga (19-2): The ‘Zags have coasted through the early stages of their conference schedule — most recently, an 89-66 road win at Portland followed by a 98-39 win at Santa Clara. Gonzaga’s remaining regular season schedule is actually tougher than one might expect with seven of its 10 upcoming WCC games coming against opponents that are in the top 100 on kenpom.com.

     

    5. Michigan (19-1): The Wolverines needed Charles Matthews’ buzzer beater to avoid overtime at home against Minnesota Tuesday, then they rolled over Indiana in a 69-46 road win Friday. After going scoreless in Michigan’s loss at Wisconsin, freshman Ignas Brazdeikis scored 18 points (on an inefficient 4-of-18 shooting) against the Gophers and 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Hoosiers.

    [RELATED: Purdue hands Michigan State first Big Ten loss]

    6. Kentucky (16-3): The Wildcats beat No. 9 Kansas 71-63 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge for their sixth win in a row and third straight victory against a ranked opponent. Their season-opening loss to Duke seems like a distant memory now as Kentucky is playing like a legitimate top-10 team and it has the resume to match. The Wildcats play on the road at Vanderbilt and Florida this week.

     

    7. Nevada (19-1): The Wolf Pack only played one game since the release of last week’s AP poll and they won 100-60 at home against Colorado State. All five starters scored in double figures, led by Jordan Caroline’s 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Nevada plays at UNLV Tuesday then at home against Boise State Saturday.

     

    8. Michigan State (18-3): The Spartans suffered their first Big Ten loss of the season on Sunday at Purdue as they fell behind by 23 before making a furious rally to cut the deficit to four, ultimately losing 73-63. Michigan State still isn’t at full strength without guard Joshua Langford and forward Kyle Ahrens. The Spartans still sit in first place in the conference despite the loss.

     

    9. North Carolina (15-4): The Tar Heels only played one game last week but it was a significant result — a 103-82 win over No. 10 Virginia Tech behind a 16-of-34 three-point shooting performance. Freshmen Coby White and Nassir Little led the way with 27 and 23 points, respectively.

     

    10. Kansas (16-4): The Jayhawks were 10-0 in their first 10 games of the season. In their last 10, they’re 6-4 after losing 71-63 at Kentucky on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Kansas is tied for first in the Big 12 with Kansas State and there’s no shame in losing to a top-10 Kentucky team on the road but the Jayhawks have struggled without center Udoka Azubuike and their ceiling appears considerably lower without him.

     

    11. Marquette (18-3): Marquette’s wins over DePaul and Xavier last week likely didn’t make many waves nationally but the Golden Eagles’ 2-0 week extended their winning streak to seven games and they’re just a half-game behind Villanova in the Big East standings. Marquette plays at Butler Wednesday and the Bulldogs are projected to win 73-71, according to kenpom.com.

     

    12. Virginia Tech (16-3): Reasonable minds can disagree on where Virginia Tech stands among college basketball’s best teams this season. The Hokies were blown out on the road 103-82 at North Carolina Monday, a week after they were blown out at Virginia. Their win over Purdue in November is aging nicely but their upcoming road games at Miami (FL), NC State and Clemson will tell us if Virginia Tech is truly a borderline top-10 team.

     

    13. Houston (20-1): The Cougars have won five straight in AAC play. Most recently, they beat East Carolina and Tulsa, and they share the conference lead with Cincinnati. Houston’s next four games are against opponents that are ranked in the top 80 on kenpom.com: Temple (home), UCF (road), Cincinnati (home) and UConn (road).

     

    14. Villanova (16-4): The Wildcats scored 80 points in each of their wins last week at Butler and at home against Seton Hall. Villanova avoided a potential trap game in Indianapolis as the Bulldogs have recently had success against the Wildcats and they ran away with the game against the Pirates, making 17 threes and forcing 18 turnovers in a 28-point win.

     

    15. Louisville (15-5): The Cardinals are tied with Duke and Virginia — the top two teams on kenpom.com — with a 6-1 record in ACC play entering Monday. They took care of business at home last week, beating NC State and Pittsburgh, to extend their winning streak to five games. The real test for Louisville will come in a four-game stretch at the beginning of February which it hosts North Carolina, travels to Virginia Tech and Florida State, and then hosts Duke.

     

    16. Texas Tech (16-4): The Red Raiders saw their losing streak extend to three games before they got off the skid with a 67-64 win against Arkansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Texas Tech’s offense will limit its ceiling this season, as shown by its 0.74 points per possession against Kansas State Tuesday and its 140th ranking in adjusted offensive efficiency.

     

    17. Buffalo (18-2): The Bulls dropped their first MAC game last Tuesday at Northern Illinois, but they bounced back with an 88-79 win at Kent State Friday. Buffalo is projected to be favored in each of its remaining regular season games and it should have a resume worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

     

    18. Iowa State (15-5): The Cyclones nearly completed a regular season sweep of Kansas but they lost 80-76 in Lawrence Monday, then shot nearly 70 percent from the field in an 87-73 win at No. 20 Ole Miss on Saturday. Iowa State has the best offense in the Big 12 by almost 4.5 points per 100 possessions.

     

    19. LSU (16-3): The Tigers have won nine in a row after an 86-80 win in overtime at Missouri Saturday. They’re tied with Tennessee for first in the SEC and they only play the Volunteers once in the regular season — at home on February 23.

     

    20. Purdue (14-6): The Boilermakers’ record isn’t as impressive as the other teams in the AP Top 25 poll but they’re certainly playing like a top-25 team after their 73-63 win over Michigan State Sunday. Purdue has won five in a row, including victories over Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio State.

     

    21. Maryland (16-5): A bad week got even worse as Maryland lost 69-55 at Michigan State in a game between two of the top teams in the Big Ten standings, then lost to Illinois at Madison Square Garden Saturday. We detailed how Rutgers and Illinois provide the only potential bad losses in the Big Ten and it will weigh down the quality of the Terps’ resume on Selection Sunday.

     

    22. NC State (16-4): The Wolfpack lost at Louisville then beat Clemson at home thanks to Braxton Beverly’s game-winning three and poor free throw shooting down the stretch from the Tigers. Those two games continue NC State’s trend of alternating wins and losses in ACC play. The Wolfpack are 4-3 in conference play and haven’t won or lost two games in a row against ACC competition.

     

    23. Mississippi State (15-4): The Bulldogs lost at Kentucky Tuesday but bounced back to beat Auburn 92-84 Saturday behind 27 points from Quinndary Weatherspoon. They play at Alabama and Ole Miss next week.

     

    24. Iowa (16-5): The Hawkeyes were 0-2 since the release of the last AP poll, losing at home to Michigan State and on the road against Minnesota. Iowa surrendered 55 points in the first half of its 92-87 loss to the Gophers Sunday and the Hawkeyes are now sixth in the Big Ten.

     

    25. Wisconsin (14-6): Similar to Purdue, Wisconsin has a higher standing in advanced metrics than it record might suggest. The Badgers are No. 11 on kenpom.com after wins over Illinois and Northwestern last week. They play at Nebraska Tuesday.

     

    Dropped out of rankings: No. 16 Auburn, No. 20 Ole Miss

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