- The first week of the 2019-2020 basketball season has come and gone, and the AP Top 25 Poll looks quite different from its preseason form.
- The Kentucky Wildcats took over the top spot after taking down the previously top-seeded Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic.
- The Duke Blue Devils, Michigan State Spartans, Louisville Cardinals, and Kansas Jayhawks round out the top five for the week.
- The ACC, SEC, and Pac-12 all boast four teams in the rankings, while the Big Ten, Big 12, and Big East conferences have three teams apiece in the top 25.
- Here are the six biggest winners and losers of Week 2 of the college basketball season.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
▲ No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels — Up 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
It’s a pretty safe bet that the North Carolina Tar Heels will be among the top basketball teams in the country during any given season, but this year posed some serious questions for Roy Williams’ squad. The veteran head coach – who has been at the helm in Chapel Hill since 2003 – lost five of his leading scorers from last season. Luckily for the North Carolina faithful, his five-star recruit pickups have already proven that they’re plenty able to help pick up the slack. Cole Anthony – the superstar freshman point guard who was the second overall recruit in the class of 2019 – dropped a cool 34-point, 11-rebound double-double in his Tar Heel debut against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, racking up more points than any ACC freshman all-time in his debut game. North Carolina won’t face a ranked opponent until December but expect Anthony to continue producing highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play in the interim.
▲ No. 2 Duke Blue Devils — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Duke Blue Devils lost virtually all of their firepower during the offseason when stars Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish all departed for the NBA draft. Still, head coach Mike Krzyzewski is well-versed in the art of restocking his team year after year. With poised point guard Tre Jones returning for his sophomore season, the Blue Devils managed to force a whopping 28 turnovers from the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks en route to a 68-66 win in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. Some Duke freshmen flashed some serious scoring ability during the contest, but expect this Blue Devil squad to pull out wins thanks to stellar defence and a balanced scoring effort.
▲ No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats — Up 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
It’s fairly common for freshmen to lead the charge for head coach John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats, but this season’s breakout star may be in a league of his own. Point guard Tyrese Maxey lived up to the hype and then some by dropping 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor against Cassius Winston and the top-ranked Michigan State Spartans at Madison Square Garden. He was, by far, the most impressive player at the Champions Classic, which also featured the Spartans, Duke Blue Devils, and Kansas Jayhawks, and is primed to lead the Wildcats to Final Four contention.
▲ Texas Longhorns — Not ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll
Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns are cruising to start the season, upsetting the then-No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers after taking down the Northern Colorado Bears. But even more exciting than Texas’ hot start may be the equal parts impressive and emotional return of shooting guard Andrew Jones. A budding star for the Longhorns, Jones was sidelined for nearly two years after receiving a Leukemia diagnosis 10 games into his sophomore season. But he returned to the court in Texas’ season debut Tuesday night and dropped a game- and career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 80% shooting from beyond the arc. The Longhorns’ next big test comes against the Georgetown Hoyas later this month, so barring a disaster, they should be cruising in the interim.
▲ No. 19 Arizona Wildcats — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Arizona Wildcats knew they were getting an exceptional talent in freshman point guard Nico Mannion, but how long it would take for his coming out party to arrive was an open question. It turns out, the red-haired phenom wasted no time, dropping a game-high 23 points and nine assists in the Wildcats’ rout of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Expect Mannion to keep dishing dimes and classmate Josh Green, who sank four of his seven attempts from range against Illinois, to pace a strong Arizona squad.
▲ No. 4 Louisville Cardinals — Up 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
Jordan Nwora is living up to his preseason first-team All-America bids, leading the Louisville Cardinals to two sizeable victories and up a spot in the AP Poll. Nwora dropped 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Louisville’s season opener against the Miami Hurricanes before notching 21 and six against the Youngstown State Penguins. Like many other teams on this list, the Cardinals will more than likely coast through November before facing a seven-day gauntlet featuring the Michigan Wolverines, Pittsburgh Panthers, and No. 11 Texas Tech Red Raiders.
▼ No. 15 Florida Gators — Dropped 9 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
With a revamped roster that includes the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation, the country’s top graduate transfer in forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. and a slew of solid returning role players, Mike White’s Florida Gators were widely expected to be amongst the top teams in the nation this season. But instead of dominating its early-season matchups, Florida enjoyed a somewhat lacklustre 15-point win against the North Florida Ospreys before falling to the unranked Florida State Seminoles at home. The Gators’ November slate isn’t exactly a cakewalk, but they will have to wait until December 21 to face their next ranked opponent in the No. 17 Utah State Aggies.
▼ No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks — Dropped 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Kansas Jayhawks are a good team, and there’s seldom any doubt about it. But giving up 28 turnovers to a young Duke Blue Devils squad at Madison Square Garden should be enough to make fans back in Lawrence a bit uneasy. Udoka Azubuike – a centre who I was admittedly very high on heading into the season – did not take proper advantage of a Duke freshman centre who had no business pushing him around the paint. Superstar point guard Devon Dotson was solid on both ends of the floor but only registered a single assist in 38 minutes on the floor. There are some tests in store for the Jayhawks next month, as they will face both the No. 21 Colorado Buffaloes and No. 10 Villanova Wildcats in a two-week span.
▼ No. 24 Baylor Bears — Dropped 8 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
Baylor put a pounding on the Central Arkansas Bears to open the season, but things went downhill when the team fell to an unranked Washington Huskies squad three days later. I suspect the loss to the Huskies – who have two of the top-rated freshmen in the country joining a solid returning roster – will look better in time for the Bears. Still, an eight-spot drop in the AP Poll is significant, and another loss could take Baylor out of the rankings entirely.
▼ No. 3 Michigan State Spartans — Dropped 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans certainly didn’t look bad against the then-No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats during the Champions Classic, but they certainly didn’t look like the top team with the top player in the country either. Kentucky’s freshman breakout star Tyrese Maxey outplayed Cassius Winston, who was overwhelmingly selected as the preseason player of the year, and it wasn’t all that surprising by the end of the evening that the Wildcats walked out of Madison Square Garden with a seven-point victory. The Spartans seemingly took out their frustration on the Binghamton Bearcats with a 53-point pounding on Sunday, but their next serious test is coming up quick. Michigan State will take on the No. 12 Seton Hall Pirates Thursday, looking to regain its momentum and put the Kentucky loss firmly in the past.
▼ No. 21 Xavier Musketeers — Dropped 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Xavier Musketeers are still undefeated, so it’s somewhat surprising that they dropped two spots in the AP Poll. They didn’t do much to help their case that they’re amongst the nation’s best teams in the first week of the season. Xavier took down the Jacksonville Dolphins and Siena Saints by an average of 18.5 points, which is certainly not the margin of victory one would expect from a top-25 team facing Ken Pomeroy’s 288th- and 229th-ranked teams, respectively. The Musketeers won’t face a ranked opponent until December 30, but tough competition awaits them in Big East play.
► No. 13 Memphis Tigers — Up 1 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Memphis Tigers look good. So good that they’re up a spot in the AP Poll after the first week of competition. The problem for head coach Penny Hardaway and the Tiger faithful is that their new star, top-ranked freshman James Wiseman, may not be suiting up for Memphis in the relatively near future. The NCAA ruled that Wiseman is “likely ineligible” thanks to a payment he and his family accepted from Hardaway when the phenom was still in high school. And even though Wiseman played after the announcement Friday night, his future in the college game is hanging in the balance, as is the Tigers’ season.
Now check out the best players in the college game this season:
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