This is one week where it would have been wonderful to turn in ballots on Tuesday morning instead, given the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between Kansas and Oklahoma on Monday night. Oh well.
An injury-struck Michigan State team falls from the top this week, and some new faces join the fray at the bottom of the top 25. Here's how I voted in the poll for the week of Jan. 4, with each team's actual ranking in parenthesis.
1. Oklahoma (2): Sooners impressed with a win against Iowa State heading into Kansas showdown.
2. Kansas (1): Jayhawks routed then-No. 23 Baylor by 28 points.
3. Michigan State (5): Denzel Valentine expected to return soon from minor knee surgery. If he returns to form, Spartans likely to regain top spot before the season is over.
4. North Carolina (6): Tar Heels opened ACC play with solid wins against Clemson and Georgia Tech.
5. Maryland (3): Terrapins escaped an upset bid by Penn State in their Big 10 opener.
6. Virginia (4): Win against Notre Dame was Cavaliers' 11th in a row and improved club to 27-1 at home in the ACC over the past three seasons.
7. Arizona (7): Senior center Kaleb Tarczewski returned from a foot injury to post eight points and five rebounds in a win against Arizona State.
8. Kentucky (9): Opened SEC play by routing Mississippi.
9. Xavier (10): It felt like a wash last week for Musketeers, who rebounded from a 31-point loss against Villanova to top Butler by 19.
10. Duke (14): On the heels of two 100-point performances, Blue Devils defeated Boston College in ACC opener.
11. Miami (Fla.) (12): Hurricanes keep making a steady climb after solid wins against Princeton and Syracuse.
12. Villanova (11): After falling short in previous tests against Oklahoma and Virginia, Wildcats picked up their first win against a ranked foe by routing Xavier.
13. Providence (8): Two more impressive wins for Friars last week against Butler and St. John's.
14. Iowa State (13): Cyclones couldn't quite finish the job against Oklahoma.
15. SMU (15): Mustangs' undefeated mark will be put to the test at home Thursday against Cincinnati.
16. Butler (18): Although Butler lost last week against Providence and Xavier, Bulldogs should be applauded for a nonconference slate that also included Purdue, Temple, Cincinnati, and Miami.
17. West Virginia (17): Mountaineers needed double overtime escape an upset bid by Kansas State.
18. Louisville (16): Cardinals bounced back from last week's emotional rivalry loss against Kentucky by edging Wake Forest on Sunday.
19. Purdue (20): Boilermakers were outscored a staggering 50-26 in the second half while letting a big lead slip at home against Iowa.
20. Texas A&M (21): Aggies opened SEC slate with a thorough dismantling of Arkansas.
21. South Carolina (22): Gamecocks get credit for being undefeated, but nonconference schedule has been a bit laughable. SC defeated something called Francis Marion last week but finally get a test this Saturday against Vanderbilt.
22. Cal (NR): Got a chance to see Golden Bears beat up on Buffs. Very balanced team, and freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb are for real. Built on win against CU by taking down Utah. A little surprised Golden Bears didn't break back in this week.
23. Iowa (19): Hawkeyes' win against Denzel Valentine-less Michigan State might be called fluke-ish, but it's difficult to quibble with rallying from 19 points down at Purdue.
24. Pittsburgh (24): (if beats Ore. St.) Bad news for the rest of the Pac-12 is that Ducks are fully healthy for the first time this season.
25. UConn (23): Solid victory against Texas ushers Huskies back into this poll.
OUT (My poll): Cincinnati, Baylor, Utah, UCLA.
IN: Cal, Iowa, Pitt, UConn