College Basketball Rankings: Predicting the AP Poll Top 25 as losses pile up

On3 imageby:James Fletcher III02/12/24

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The week brought plenty of interesting results across college basketball including double-digit losses from Top 25 teams, promising to bring big changes to the AP Poll on Monday.

Trying to predict how the voters will view each win and loss leads to a shuffled up version of the Top 25, with some movement in the middle and plenty of intersecting resumes.

With so many of the best teams dropping games it puts a premium on win streaks from those outside the current rankings, an opportunity for Virginia and St. Mary’s to shine. Meanwhile, Kentucky continues to struggle and could be a target for voters looking at the overall perception of the team right now.

Here is how I think the new AP Top 25 will look on Feb. 12:

1. UConn (Last week: 1)

Nov 27, 2023; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) reacts after being fouled by New Hampshire Wildcats in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

UConn has become a steady force in a shaky Top 25 and continues to just win games. A pair of games against Butler and Georgetown cement their place atop the rankings for another week despite Purdue coming at the heels.

The Huskies will face DePaul on the road and then face off against Marquette in a marquee matchup.

2. Purdue (Last week: 2)

Purdue's Zach Edey
Purdue’s Zach Edey (John E. Sokolowski/USA Today Sports)

Purdue has also rounded into form with consistent wins across the Big Ten. A rivalry win against Indiana capped off the bye week in style, but not as much style as Zach Edey’s first career 3-point make during the second half.

The Boilermakers will play against Minnesota before a road game against Ohio State caps the week.

3. Houston (Last week: 5)

LJ Cryer Houston
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston bounced back from the loss against Kansas last week by taking care of business against Oklahoma State and Cincinnati while securing the top spot in the Big 12 standings along the way.

The Cougars will play against Texas after getting a bye week to prepare for the Big 12 slate ahead.

4. North Carolina (Last week: 3)

north-carolina-head-coach-hubert-davis-gives-rj-davis-injury-update
North Carolina senior RJ Davis has been on of college basketballs biggest stock risers over the past two weeks (Bennett/Getty Images)

North Carolina faltered once again in a hangover game against Clemson, which came after a rivalry win over Duke last week. They bounced back over the weekend though, holding on late against Miami.

The Tar Heels will face a roadtrip against Syracuse then a home matchup with Virginia Tech this week.

5. Kansas (Last week: 4)

Hunter Dickinson is one of the top transfers in college basketball (Photo by Dr. Michael Huang | Kentucky Sports Radio)

Kansas leaped up in the Top 25 last week thanks to a big win over Houston, but had a complicated week with a rivalry loss against Kansas State before another big win over Baylor. The hangover loss will not cost them much, but could lead to Houston jumping back in front.

The Jayhawks will play against Texas Tech on the road before another away game against Oklahoma over the weekend.

6. Marquette (Last week: 7)

Marquette G Tyler Kolek
Benny Sieu | USA TODAY Sports

Marquette sat out the midweek slate this week but picked up a big win over St. John’s to set up another big jump in the rankings as other teams slip up left and right across the country.

The schedule continues with a home game against St. John’s coming up after a bye week.

7. Arizona (Last week: 8)

Caleb Love-Arizona
Zachary BonDurant | USA TODAY Sports

Arizona keeps moving up after picking up a pair of quality wins against projected NCAA Tournament teams Utah and Colorado this week, keeping pace with the best in the country despite perceived weakness within the Pac-12 conference.

The Wildcats will face in-state rival Arizona State at home before a matchup with surging Washington State.

8. Tennessee (Last week: 6)

Dalton Knecht
(Angelina Alcantar/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK) Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht (3) dribbles the ball during an NCAA college basketball game between Tennessee and Tarleton State at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023.

Tennessee once again dropped a game and missed out on an opportunity to jump up in the rankings. After handling things well against LSU, they were beaten thoroughly on the road against Texas A&M.

The Volunteers play against Arkansas on the road this week before hosting in-state rival Vanderbilt.

9. Duke (Last week: 9)

Duke F Kyle Filipowski
Rob Kinnan | USA TODAY Sports

Duke was able to bounce back form the loss against North Carolina last week and pick up a pair of ACC wins against Notre Dame and Boston College. They could land right at the cut-off of teams able to jump Tennessee, but have no worries about dropping.

The Blue Devils will face another in-state rival in Wake Forest before a road matchup with Florida State this week.

10. Iowa State (Last week: 14)

Iowa State climbs into the Top 10 of the projections this week thanks to a pair of Big 12 wins against Texas and TCU. Coupled with the losses suffered by teams ahead of them in the Top 25 last week and it could be a perfect storm to climb up the board.

The Cyclones will face Cincinnati on the road in the midweek before hosting Texas Tech to finish the week.

Ranking 11-25

11. South Carolina (Last week: 15)
12. Auburn (Last week: 12)
13. Illinois (Last week: 10)
14. Baylor (Last week: 13)
15. Wisconsin (Last week: 11)
16. Alabama (Last week: 16)
17. Virginia (Last week: NR)
18. St. Mary’s (Last week: NR)
19. Kentucky (Last week: 17)
20. Creighton (Last week: 19)
21. Dayton (Last week: 18)
22. BYU (Last week: 21)
23. Oklahoma (Last week: NR)
24. Utah State (Last week: 22)
25. FAU (Last week: 20)

Projected to drop out: Texas Tech (Last week: 23), New Mexico (Last Week: 25)