It was another rough week for the nation’s elite, as seven of last week’s top 10, and 10 out of the top 13, suffered a loss.
Here’s how I voted in this week’s poll, with each team’s actual ranking in parenthesis.
1. North Carolina (2): I guess in choosing UNC over Oklahoma for the top spot (The Sooners retained their No. 1 ranking despite a loss at Iowa State, though last week’s unanimous turned into a 36-29 advantage in first-place votes over the Tar Heels) I personally feel like the No. 1 is required to defend the top of the mountain at all costs, no matter the quality of the loss. But stay tuned. The way things are unfolding another team could get this vote next week.
2. Oklahoma (1): Sooners’ grip on the No. 1 spot grew more tenuous after a loss at Iowa State. While the Tar Heels have a relatively easy week with a home date against Boston College before hitting the road to face Louisville and Notre Dame, Oklahoma has another tough week ahead with a Tuesday home game against Texas Tech and a Saturday battle against LSU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
3. Kansas (4): Iowa leapfrogged the Jayhawks into the No. 3 spot after Kansas’ loss to Oklahoma State. No offense to the upstart Hawkeyes, but even with that loss I still can’t yet bring myself to say Iowa is a better team than Kansas. Not yet.
4. Iowa (3): Kudos to one of the surprise teams of the season. Iowa made another impressive statement Sunday by topping Purdue. This is Iowa’s best ranking since they spent one week at No. 1 and three at No. 2 in 1987.
5. Villanova (6): Wildcats took a slight dip after Sunday’s loss against a solid Providence squad.
6. Texas A&M (5): In a season that has witnessed one upset after another, Aggies have managed to put together 10 consecutive wins and achieve the program’s highest ranking ever. Tune in Saturday when A&M faces No. 14 Iowa State.
7. Virginia (11): Cavaliers picked up quality wins against Clemson and Syracuse but face tough road dates this week at Wake Forest and Louisville.
8. West Virginia (9): After knocking off Kansas and following with a two-point loss against Oklahoma, Mountaineers were taken down by Texas.
9. Xavier (7): Musketeers dropped two spots after losing to Georgetown.
10. Michigan State (12): Spartans finally slowed recent slide with an impressive win against Maryland.
11. SMU (13): Tournament-banned Mustangs saw dreams of an undefeated season end against Temple.
12. Maryland (8): With losses already against Michigan and Michigan State, Terrapins get another chance against the Big Ten’s best Thursday night against Iowa.
13. Miami (Fla.) (15): Hurricanes kept pace with victories against Boston College and Wake Forest.
14. Providence (10): Friars jumped six spots after posting wins against ranked rivals Butler and Villanova.
15. Kentucky (20): Wildcats started battle back toward respectability with wins last week against Arkansas and Vanderbilt. Kentucky gets a shot at Kansas Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
16. Baylor (17): A two-overtime win against Kansas State might have sapped some of the Bears’ wind in a 10-point loss against Oklahoma.
17. Arizona (18): Sweeps on the road will be hard to come by in the Pac-12. Wildcats won at Stanford but were victimized at Cal.
18. Louisville (16): Last week’s road wins against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech sets up home battles this week against Virginia and North Carolina.
19. Iowa State (14): Cyclones picked up a key Big 12 win against No. 1 Oklahoma.
20. Butler (NR): Bulldogs were jettisoned from the poll after losses against Providence and Creighton.
21. Duke (24): Injuries have helped contribute to the Blue Devils’ free fall. Syracuse handed Duke its third straight loss last week before Blue Devils ended their slide against NC State. Things don’t get easier Monday night at Miami.
22. Indiana (19): A season-ending injury to James Blackmon, Jr., could have derailed Hoosiers. Instead Indiana has won 12 in a row.
23. Purdue (21): Iowa’s win against Boilermakers on Sunday gave the Hawkeyes a season sweep.
24. Dayton (NR; top of others receiving votes): Given the bottom three from my vote last week all lost to unranked opponents (South Carolina, USC, Pittsburgh), I thought it was time to give Flyers their due after wins in nine of their past 10.
25. South Carolina (NR; second in others receiving votes): This vote is hanging by a thread after Gamecocks lost to Tennessee. Still finding it difficult to pinpoint a Pac-12 team ready to separate itself in the poll, though this week it was Oregon and Utah that impressed.
IN (my poll): Indiana, Dayton.
OUT: Southern Cal, Pittsburgh.
UP NEXT: Wichita State, Oregon, Notre Dame.