Finally I had no choice but to go with Michigan State for the top spot.

I stand by my thought last week that North Carolina and Kentucky are the most talented teams, but right now they aren't quite playing like it. The Spartans' early resume is just too good at this point to vote otherwise.

For those who keep asking, I'm not yet ready to lump the Colorado Buffaloes among the nation's top 25 teams, though they did debut this week in the AP poll at, unofficially, No. 29 as the fourth-ranked team among the others receiving votes. Assuming they win out through a potential showdown with SMU next week in Las Vegas, a win against the No. 18 Mustangs would make that change.

Here's how I voted in this week's AP men's basketball top 25 poll, with each team's actual ranking in parenthesis.

1. Michigan State (1): Spartans' nonconference ledger includes wins against Kansas, Boise State, and Providence.

2. Kentucky (4): Wildcats rebounded from UCLA loss to rout Arizona State but are still trying to put their talented pieces together.

3. Oklahoma (3): Undefeated Sooners passed a significant test by topping Villanova by 23 points.

4. Iowa State (5): Cyclones put together a stirring rally to post a rivalry win against Iowa but suffered a huge setback with the season-ending hip injury to senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long.


5. North Carolina (11): Tar Heels plummeted all the way to 11th in the weekly poll after losing to Texas.

6. Maryland (6): Terrapins recorded an impressive 10-point win against UConn.

7. Duke (7): Blue Devils were idle last week and face a solid test Saturday against Utah.

8. Kansas (2): Early loss to Michigan State still the Jayhawks' only blemish.

9. Virginia (8): Cavaliers impressed with a 16-point win against West Virginia.

10. Arizona (13): The Wildcats shook off a loss against  Providence to post four straight wins, including solid victories against Gonzaga and Boise State.

11. Purdue (9): Boilermakers continued to roll with three easy wins last week but face a tough regional rivalry on Saturday against No. 17 Butler.

12. Xavier (10): Undefeated mark will be tested in the coming weeks with a row of opponents that includes Auburn, Wake Forest, Villanova, Butler and St. John's.

13. Villanova (12): Wildcats' hot start derailed in a lopsided loss against Oklahoma.

14. SMU (18): Mustangs topped Michigan last week and could have its undefeated mark put to the test on Dec. 23 in a potential matchup against CU in Las Vegas.

15. Baylor (16): Saturday night showdown at Texas A&M will give the Bears another chance to impress.

16. Miami (Fla.) (15): Hurricanes kept rolling with a rivalry win against Florida.

17. Butler (17): Bulldogs can make a statement Saturday against No. 9 Purdue.

18. Providence (14): All-American candidate Kris Dunn is averaging 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 6.9 assists.

19. UCLA (22): After a slow start the surging Bruins have turned heads in recent weeks with wins against Kentucky and Gonzaga.

20. Louisville (19): Cardinals lost to the only Power 5 conference team they have played so far (Michigan State) and don't face another until a Dec. 26 battle against Kentucky.

21. West Virginia (20): Mountaineers were handed a 16-point loss by Virginia.

22. George Washington (21): GW makes its poll debut this week with a resume that includes a win against Virginia.

23. Cincinnati (23): Bearcats missed a chance to move up by dropping a rivalry battle against Xavier.

24. Gonzaga (NR): Dropped to the top of others receiving votes after a loss against UCLA.

25. Texas A&M (24): Returned to the rankings after defeating Kansas State.

IN (my poll): UCLA, GW, Louisville, Texas A&M

OUT: Vanderbilt, Oregon, Syracuse, UConn

NEXT UP: South Carolina, Colorado, Pitt

Pat Rooney: or