With several national powers finally facing their first true challenges of the season, the third week of the AP national men's basketball poll saw it's biggest shakeup of the very young season.
Kentucky replaces North Carolina at the top of the heap. The poll saw five newcomers, with Miami (Fla.) making a significant debut at No. 15 after blowing out Utah. Xavier, Cincinnati, SMU and Texas A&M also joined the top 25...which actually was 26, with SMU and Texas A&M tying for the final spot.
Hate to say it, but I watched fewer games this past week than will be typical while traveling to cover NCAA cross country finals for three days. Fortunately it was a one-week anomaly. Here's how I voted in this week's poll, with each team's actual ranking in parenthesis.
1. Kentucky (1): Wildcats made it look easy at times in impressive win against Duke.
2. Maryland (2): Terrapins held off Georgtown in early showdown.
3. North Carolina (9): Tar Heels stunned in four-point loss to Northern Iowa.
4. Oklahoma (7): Sooners escaped Memphis before rolling past McNeese State.
5. Iowa State (4): After opening scare against CU, Cyclones cruised past Chicago State.
6. Michigan State (3): Denzel Valentine's triple-double led Spartans past Kansas.
7. Duke (6): Blue Devils bounced back from Kentucky setback to top VCU and Georgetown.
8. Kansas (5): After loss to Michigan State, Jayhawks facing more solid competition in final four of Maui Classic.
9. Virginia (12): Cavaliers topped by George Washington.
10. Villanova (8): Wildcats will ramp up competition this week at NIT Season Tipoff.
11. Arizona (11): Three-win week highlighted by victory against solid Boise State squad.
12. Gonzaga (10): Zags cruised to wins against Northern Arizona and Mount St. Mary's.
13. Wichita State (20): Shockers fall several slots after losing to Tulsa.
14. Cal (14): Golden Bears hit the road for the first time this week at Las Vegas Invitational.
15. Notre Dame: Irish have topped three overmatched opponents by an average of 21.3 points.
16. Indiana (13): Hoosiers likely to tumble after Monday night loss against Wake Forest.
17. Vanderbilt (19): Commodores will see how they stack up against aforementioned Wake Forest Tuesday night in Maui Classic.
18. UConn (18): Huskies tip off Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament against Michigan in Bahamas.
19. LSU (22): Tigers also facing a likely drop after Monday night loss against Marquette.
20. Purdue (16): Boilermakers have been impressive in less-than-scintillating early schedule.
21. Texas A&M (t-25): Aggies another squad that will face first big tests this week in Bahamas at Battle 4 Atlantis tourney.
22. Oregon (21): Ducks picked up an impressive early win against previous No. 20 Baylor.
23. Utah: Utes took a major hit after getting routed by Miami (Fla.) but rebounded to beat Temple.
24. West Virginia (NR): Mountaineers' early 98.3 points per game average will be tested this week at Las Vegas Invitational.
25. Baylor (NR): Bears weren't embarrassed in tough opening road loss at Oregon.
Dropped out of my poll: Michigan, Butler.
In: Oregon, West Virginia.
Next up: Miami (Fla.), Xavier, SMU.