Predicting the College Basketball AP Top 25 Poll for Week 7

    Teams ranked in last week's AP Top 25 poll combined for just four losses in the last week and two were by Villanova, which drops the reigning national

    December 16, 2018

    Teams ranked in last week’s AP Top 25 poll combined for just four losses in the last week and two were by Villanova, which drops the reigning national champions to 8-4 and likely out of the AP poll — for the second time this season. Arguably the biggest result of the weekend was No. 12 North Carolina’s win over No. 3 Gonzaga, which puts the Bulldogs — who were No. 1 two weeks ago — on a two-game losing streak.

    Here’s how we predict the college basketball AP Top 25 poll will look in Week 7.

     

    1. Kansas (9-0): The Jayhawks only played once last week but they picked up what proved to be another competitive but quality win with their 74-71 victory over Villanova. They wrap up their non-conference schedule with home games against South Dakota State and Eastern Michigan, plus a trip to Arizona State, before going to Lexington, Kentucky, in January for the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

     

    2. Duke (9-1): The Blue Devils had a full week off since they played Yale and their next game isn’t until Tuesday, when they host Princeton. As we enter the second half of December, Duke’s resume looks strong with wins over AP Top 25 teams Auburn, Kentucky and Indiana, as well as respectable mid-majors San Diego State and Yale — both of whom could prove to be top-100 teams by season’s end.

     

    3. Tennessee (8-1): The Volunteers only played once last week, when they won a high-scoring affair 102-92 at Memphis. It was Tennessee’s first true road win of the season and could prove to be a Quadrant 2 win depending on how the Tigers finish this season. The Vols wrap up non-conference play with home games against Samford, Wake Forest and Tennessee Tech before hosting West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Championship.

     

    4. Michigan (11-0): The Wolverines’ rise in the AP Top 25 poll should continue after Gonzaga’s loss at North Carolina. Michigan continued its undefeated start with a too-close-for-comfort win at home over Western Michigan 70-62. With remaining games against Air Force and Binghampton, Michigan should enter conference play and the New Year with a 13-0 record, barring a major upset.

     

    5. Virginia (9-0): The Cavaliers were another team that had a nine-day break in between games as Virginia won’t play again until December 19 against South Carolina after beating VCU on December 9. Virginia can add a second road win to its resume with a victory against the Gamecocks.

     

    6. Nevada (11-0): The Wolf Pack’s last three wins have come by eight points or less, most recently in a 72-68 victory over South Dakota State on Saturday. Nevada concludes its non-conference schedule with a home game against Akron, followed by a trip to Utah. The Wolf Pack have a 10.2 percent chance of going undefeated in the regular season, according to kenpom.com.

     

    7. Auburn (9-1): The Tigers escaped UAB (No. 182 on kenpom.com) with a 75-71, neutral-court win in Birmingham on Saturday in their only game of the week. Auburn will have the chance to get its first true road win of the season on Wednesday against NC State.

     

    8. Gonzaga (9-2): It’s tough to penalize a team for losing a true road game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill but the Bulldogs will inevitably fall in Monday’s AP poll after their 103-90 loss to the Tar Heels. They’ve now lost consecutive games but we’ll gladly buy any Gonzaga stock that you’re selling. How many coaches and programs would schedule consecutive games away from home against Tennessee (neutral) and North Carolina (road)?

    The answer is not many and it’s fair to say most teams in the country would have gone 0-2 in those two games. Maybe Gonzaga isn’t the best team in the country like their No. 1 ranking in the AP poll two weeks ago suggested, but the Zags are still firmly a top-10 team and they’ll benefit in the long run from scheduling the way they did in November and December.

     

    9. North Carolina (8-2): Like last week’s AP poll showed, you can’t always use head-to-head results to determine the order of teams in the AP Top 25. Even though North Carolina just beat Gonzaga, the Bulldogs have a better resume. Plus that game was played in Chapel Hill, not Spokane, so there may have been a different outcome if the game was played in a different location.

    Regardless, North Carolina’s victory over Gonzaga gave it a signature win for its non-conference resume. The Tar Heels’ next three games are against Kentucky in Chicago, then at home against Davidson and Harvard so they could potentially add a trio of wins in the next two and a half weeks that will be categorized as Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 wins in March.

     

    10. Michigan State (9-2): The Spartans exploded for 64 points in the first half of their win against Green Bay on Sunday night. Michigan State has four wins over opponents ranked in the top 50 on kenpom.com and its only losses were to No. 1 Kansas on a neutral court by five points and in overtime at Louisville. The Spartans finish non-conference play with home games against Oakland and Northern Illinois.

     

    11. Florida State (8-1): The Seminoles had eight days off after their win over UConn, so their record hasn’t changed since last week. They’re a six-point, neutral-court loss to Villanova away from being undefeated. Florida State has four non-conference games left, the biggest of which is a neutral-court game against Saint Louis in Sunrise, Florida, next Saturday.

     

    12. Texas Tech (10-0): The Red Raiders beat Northwestern State and Abilene Christian last week, which won’t move the needle much in terms of their NCAA tournament resume, but it does mean Texas Tech will take an undefeated record into its neutral-court showdown with Duke on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

     

    13. Virginia Tech (9-1): The Hokies beat Washington 73-61 on Saturday in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which should be at worst a Quadrant 2 win in March. Virginia Tech finishes non-conference play against a pair of sub-300 teams in North Carolina A&T and Maryland Eastern Shore.

     

    14. Buffalo (10-0): The Bulls beat Southern Illinois on Saturday for the second time this season. Now comes Buffalo’s toughest test of the season when it visits Syracuse on Tuesday and Marquette Friday. Even a 1-1 split of the two games should be considered productive given that both opponents rank in the top 35 on kenpom.com.

     

    15. Ohio State (9-1): The Buckeyes narrowly avoided taking a bad home loss to Bucknell on Saturday, when they won 73-71 as the Bison’s final three-point attempt fell short. The best part of Ohio State’s resume so far is its true road wins at Cincinnati and Creighton, and it’ll have a chance for a quality neutral-court win when it plays UCLA in Chicago on Saturday.

     

    16. Wisconsin (9-2): The advanced metrics like Wisconsin even more than the AP poll voters do as the Badgers are ranked No. 13 on kenpom.com on Sunday night. They beat Savannah State 101-60 on Thursday in their only game of the week.

     

    17. Mississippi State (9-1): The Bulldogs picked up what is arguably their best win of the season on Saturday, when they beat Cincinnati 70-59. It was their second win over a team ranked in the top-50 on kenpom.com and fourth over a team ranked in the top 100. Mississippi State hosts Wofford on Wednesday, when it’ll have the chance for another top-100 win.

     

    18. Kentucky (8-2): The Wildcats handled Utah at home 88-62 in their only game of the week but that victory only projects to be their third-best so far this season, using kenpom.com’s rankings. Kentucky has a crucial stretch coming up with a neutral-site game against North Carolina, a trip to Louisville and its SEC opener at Alabama.

     

    19. Arizona State (8-1): The Sun Devils rank outside the top 40 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency but they’ll stay in the AP Top 25 after surviving a road game against a pesky Georgia team on Saturday. It was Arizona State’s first road win of the season, leading into a trip to Vanderbilt on Monday followed by a home date with Kansas on Saturday.

     

    20. Marquette (8-2): The Golden Eagles didn’t play last week but you could argue it was still a positive week for them after Villanova went 0-2. ‘Nova has dominated the Big East but this could be Marquette’s season to win the conference. Led by the efficient offensive play of guard Markus Howard and brothers Sam and Joey Hauser, Marquette has a trio of three-point threats who can do serious damage if they’re all firing on the same night.

     

    21. Iowa (8-2): The Hawkeyes beat Northern Iowa 77-54 on a neutral floor in their only game of the week. Iowa finishes non-conference play with three home games against teams that rank outside the top 300 on kenpom.com — Western Carolina, Savannah State and Bryant.

     

    22. Furman (12-0): The Paladins are the only 12-0 team in the country after adding wins over Charleston Southern and UNC Wilmington last week. Furman only plays one game this week but it’s a big one — at LSU on Friday.

     

    23. Houston (10-0): The Cougars are one of the last remaining undefeated teams and they preserved their perfect record with a 68-64 win at home over Saint Louis on Sunday. You could argue Houston is still looking for its premier non-conference win but it has accumulated a bunch of really good ones: Oregon (No. 32 on kenpom.com), LSU (No. 45), Oklahoma State (No. 65), BYU (No. 69) and now Saint Louis (No. 73).

    Houston and Cincinnati are likely the two best teams in the American Athletic Conference this season.

     

    24. Indiana (9-2): The Hoosiers have won their last four games by a combined eight points, the latest coming on freshman Rob Phinisee’s 30-foot, buzzer-beating three against Butler on Saturday. Indiana now has five wins against opponents ranked in the top 50 on kenpom.com — Marquette, Northwestern, Penn State, Louisville and Butler — the most in the country.

     

    25. Kansas State (7-2): The Wildcats ended their two-game skid with a 71-59 win over Georgia State on Saturday. Kansas State has only beaten one opponent ranked in the top 100 on kenpom.com — Missouri, which is No. 94 as of Sunday night — but based on its preseason ranking it’ll stay in the AP Top 25 for the time being.

     

    Dropped out of the rankings: Villanova, Syracuse

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