- After the unranked Syracuse Orange upset the previously top-ranked Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Tennessee Volunteers vaulted from No. 3 in last week’s AP Top 25 Poll to sit atop the college basketball throne.
- The last two undefeated teams in the nation, the Virginia Cavaliers and Michigan Wolverines, both lost their first games of the season to Duke and the unranked Wisconsin Badgers, respectively.
- The ACC and the SEC lead all conferences with six teams apiece in the rankings, followed closely by the Big 10 with four and the Big 12 with three. The Pac-12, meanwhile, has no representation in the AP Top 25 Poll for the fourth consecutive week.
- Here are the five biggest winners and losers of Week 12 of the college basketball season.
▲ No. 11 North Carolina Tar Heels — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The North Carolina Tar Heels suffered a stunning loss to the Louisville Cardinals last week but have notched impressive wins in each of their contests since. Freshman guard Coby White led North Carolina to a six-point victory against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish before taking care of the Miami Hurricanes in the Magic City, but the Tar Heels took it to the next level against the No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies Monday night. Led by White’s 27 points and seven rebounds, North Carolina thrashed Buzz Williams squad for a 21-point victory. Expect that to factor into the rankings significantly come next week.
▲ No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Tennessee Volunteers are rolling. They have won 12 consecutive games since losing to the then-No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks back in November, and that winning streak – plus a number of big upsets – was enough to catapult them to No. 1 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. Tennessee enjoyed a 19-point win against the Arkansas Razorbacks before squeaking out a thrilling, last-second victory against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Expect the Volunteers to keep up with their winning ways for the time being, as they likely will not face a ranked opponent until their February 16 matchup with the No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington.
▲ No. 12 Marquette Golden Eagles — Up 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
After starting the season unranked, Marquette has climbed to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 Poll, marking the highest ranking for the Golden Eagles since Steve Wojciechowski took over the program in 2014. This week, Marquette escaped D.C. with a three-point victory against Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas before taking down the Providence Friars by double digits. The rest of January should be relatively quiet for the Golden Eagles, but they will face the St. John’s Red Storm and the No. 18 Villanova Wildcats back-to-back for a challenging start to February.
▲ No. 24 Iowa State Cyclones — Enter the AP Top 25 Poll
The Iowa State Cyclones enter the AP Top 25 Poll after completing one of their most impressive weeks of the season. The Cyclones took down Texas Tech Wednesday, dealing the Red Raiders their first loss since falling in a close contest to the Duke Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden in December. Iowa State then beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys by double-digits before nearly toppling the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday. The Cyclones will have another chance to improve their standing in the rankings when they take on the No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels later this week.
▲ No. 25 LSU Tigers — Enter the AP Top 25 Poll
The LSU Tigers started the season ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll but fell out of everyone’s good graces with early losses to the Florida State Seminoles and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This week, LSU enjoyed double-digit wins against the then-No. 18 Ole Miss Rebels and the South Carolina Gamecocks to find themselves back amongst the best in the business. The Tigers will have a chance to further prove their worth with a gauntlet of consecutive games against the No. 22 Mississippi State Bulldogs, No. 16 Auburn Tigers, and No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats early next month.
▼ No. 5 Michigan Wolverines — Dropped 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Michigan Wolverines have been flying high, but their first and only game of the week brought them crashing down to reality in stunning fashion. Undefeated Michigan travelled to Madison to take on the unranked Wisconsin Badgers. The then-No. 2 Wolverines enjoyed a two-point lead at halftime, but the Badgers stormed back in the second half – thanks in large part to Ethan Happ’s 26-point, 10-rebound performance – to hand Michigan its first loss of the year. John Beilein’s squad slid down three spots in the AP Top 25 Poll, but they will use their next three games – all against unranked opponents – to regain their rhythm.
▼ No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks — Dropped 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks barely squeaked out a win against the Texas Longhorns January 14 before falling by one to the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown. They bounced back with a tight win against the Iowa State Cyclones on their home floor, but things will only get tougher for the Jayhawks in the weeks to come. No. 9 Kansas will take on the No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington before travelling to Austin to once again face off with Shaka Smart’s Longhorns. To cap off the gauntlet, the Jayhawks will face the No. 14 Texas Tech Red Raiders for their first game of February.
▼ No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies — Dropped 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Virginia Tech Hokies look better than they have in a long, long time, but this week wasn’t the most flattering for Buzz Williams’ squad. The Hokies got pummelled by ACC and in-state rival Virginia in Charlottesville before finding their footing and readily handling conference bottom-dweller Georgia Tech. But Monday night was nothing short of annihilation for Virginia Tech, which lost 103-82 to the No. 11 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. The Hokies will spend the next few games playing potential tap games against the Syracuse Orange and Miami Hurricanes before taking on the NC State Wolfpack and Louisville Cardinals – both ranked teams – to open the month of February.
▼ No. 2 Duke Blue Devils — Dropped 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Duke Blue Devils’ four-week reign atop the AP Top 25 Poll has come to an end. Then No. 1 Duke fell to the unranked Syracuse Orange at Cameron Indoor Stadium after starting the game without Cameron Reddish and losing point guard Tre Jones with a shoulder injury due to a nasty collision with Syracuse guard Frank Howard in the fifth minute of the contest. The Blue Devils regained their composure and returned Reddish in time to host the then-undefeated Virginia Cavaliers Saturday. Duke dealt the Cavaliers a two-point loss, but the loss to the ragtag Orange squad was enough to bump Mike Krzyzewski’s squad from the top spot. The Blue Devils will close out the month with contests against ACC bottom dwellers before taking on the St. John’s Red Storm February 2.
▼ No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers — Up one spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
This is a confusing one. Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers did jump up one spot in the AP Top 25 Poll, but they lost their first game of the season to the then top-ranked Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Had they managed to put up three more points against head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad, the Cavaliers would have certainly taken the No. 1 spot. Still, not a bad week for Virginia, which absolutely walloped the then-No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies 81-59 just four days before falling to the Blue Devils. The Cavaliers will take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Notre Dame Fighting Irish this week before travelling to Raleigh to face the No. 23 NC State Wolfpack next Tuesday.
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