- Just eight weeks into the college basketball season, fans have witnessed the fall of titans and the rise of underdogs.
- The AP Top 25 Poll saw a major shakeup after the top team in the nation and some other previously-undefeated programs suffered their first losses of the season.
- Here are the five biggest winners and losers of Week 8 of the college basketball season.
▲ No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils — Up 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
Bobby Hurley and the Arizona State Sun Devils started the season unranked but received 156 votes and put themselves on the map after taking down the then-No. 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs 72-67 on the road. Arizona State took the then-No. 6 Nevada Wolf Pack down to the wire early in December, losing by six despite holding a commanding lead and the half. But the Sun Devils took home their biggest win of the season Saturday when they defeated the then-No. 1 and previously undefeated Kansas Jayhawks 80-76. Now, Arizona State is sitting pretty amongst the top 20 teams in the country with conference play on the horizon.
▲ No. 18 Marquette Golden Eagles — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Marquette Golden Eagles have bounced in and out of the AP Top 25 Poll throughout this young season, but they bolstered their case to sit amongst the nation’s elite when they defeated the then-No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers early in December. This week, Steve Wojciechowski’s squad dealt the then-No. 17 Buffalo Bulls their first loss of the season in commanding fashion, racking up a 17-point lead by the time the buzzer sounded thanks in large part to guard Markus Howard’s massive 45-point showing. The Golden Eagles will have another chance to ruin a perfect season as they travel to New York to take on the St. John’s Red Storm New Year’s Day.
▲ No. 20 NC State Wolfpack — First appearance in the AP Top 25 Poll this season
NC State has not been on many people’s radars early this season, and that reality was especially painful for the Wolfpack considering transfers Cody and Caleb Martin have seen so much success with their new, undefeated Wolf Pack in Nevada. NC State’s lone loss of the season came late in November when the Wolfpack fell to the Wisconsin Badgers by just four points. Since then, NC State has readily handled every opponent it has encountered, including the then-No. 7 Auburn Tigers on Wednesday. Although the ACC is stacked this year, expect the Wolfpack to make a serious impact heading into conference play.
▲ No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats — Up 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Kentucky Wildcats started the season at No. 2 in the country, but their stunning defeat against the then-No. 4 Duke Blue Devils – who dealt head coach John Calipari the worst loss of his career at any level – knocked Kentucky back eight spots in the AP Top 25 Poll in Week 2. The Wildcats fell all the way to No. 19 in the nation after losing a very close call to the Seton Hall Pirates December 8, but they quickly redeemed themselves with an 80-72 win against the then-No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chicago Saturday night. Kentucky still has two nonconference opponents on its schedule before gearing up for a particularly loaded SEC in January.
▲ No. 1 Duke Blue Devils — Up 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Duke Blue Devils took over as the top team in the country in the second week of the season thanks to their 118-84 rout of the then-No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats. Two weeks later, Mike Krzyzewski’s squad fell to the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Maui Invitational championship game and forfeited the throne. Now, the Blue Devils have returned to the top spot in the AP Top 25 Poll after taking down the previously-undefeated and then-No. 12 Texas Tech Red Raiders at Madison Square Garden Thursday night. Let the media preoccupation and Zion Williamson worshipping recommence.
▼ No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks — Down 4 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks started the season atop the AP Top 25 Poll, but the Duke Blue Devils quickly knocked them off of the throne. Still, Kansas not-so-quietly rolled to a perfect 10-0 start, reclaiming the No. 1 spot in Week 6 and taking down the likes of the Villanova Wildcats and the Tennessee Volunteers in the process. The Jayhawks’ reign finally came to an end this week as they fell 80-76 to the then-No. 18 Auburn Tigers on the road. Kansas does not have much of a holiday break this year, as they take on the No. 25 Oklahoma Sooners to start conference play January 2.
▼ No. 14 North Carolina Tar Heels — Down 5 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The North Carolina Tar Heels have been amongst the top 15 teams in the nation for the entirety of this season but suffered tough road losses to Shaka Smart and the formidable Texas Longhorns and the then-No. 7 Michigan Wolverines in November. The Tar Heels impressively took down the then-No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs 103-90 to make our biggest winners list last week, but their 80-72 loss to a young, inconsistent Kentucky Wildcats squad at home on Saturday cost them five spots in the AP Top 25 Poll and considerable momentum heading into ACC play.
▼ Furman Paladins — Dropped out of the AP Top 25 Poll
The Furman Paladins came out of nowhere and emerged as one of the early Cinderellas of the season. They shocked then-No. 8 Villanova with a 76-68 win at the Pavillion to help knock the Wildcats out of the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since 2013. The Paladins won another seven games, stretching their undefeated streak into December before the LSU Tigers dealt them their first loss of the season. Furman is not slated to take on another ranked team during the regular season, but expect them to make an impact come March.
▼ No. 21 Buffalo Bulls — Down 7 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Buffalo Bulls were a bit less of an anomaly than the Furman Paladins, but their dominant, undefeated start certainly was not the expectation heading into the season. Big wins against the then-No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers and the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome put the Bulls on the map, but their 103-85 loss to the Marquette Golden Eagles was enough to knock them back seven spots in the AP Top 25 Poll. Like the Paladins, Buffalo will not face another ranked opponent during the regular season, but if last year is any indication, expect the Bulls to make a splash in the NCAA tournament.
▼ No. 12 Auburn Tigers — Down 5 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Auburn Tigers came out hot to start this season. Despite a close, 78-72 loss to the then-undefeated and top-ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Maui Invitational tournament, Auburn racked up a convincing record early in the season with wins against the then-No. 25 Washington Huskies, Xavier Musketeers, and the Arizona Wildcats. This week, the Tigers dropped a 78-71 decision to the unranked NC State Wolfpack, but they will have numerous chances to regain their footing in the poll with ranked matchups against the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats, the No. 19 Mississippi State Bulldogs, and the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers during conference play.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.