College Basketball Talk’s latest top 25: Kentucky reigns, but how far will Kansas, Florida slide?

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Willie Cauley-Stein dunks on Jamari Traylor (Getty Images)

I wanted to use this space to explain my thinking behind how a couple of teams are ranked:

  • We kept Oklahoma in the top 25 because I think it’s hard to punish them for a road loss in November against a better-than-we-thought Creighton team. Want good teams to challenge themselves in the non-conference schedule? Don’t hammer them when they do and lose.
  • Kansas and Florida both fall into the same boat for me. Both teams are struggling right now, as Kansas is looking for their youngsters to figure out their roles while Florida is dealing with a myriad of injuries that have limited the number of scholarship players that Billy Donovan has at his disposal.
  • I think it’s pretty obvious that Kentucky is the No. 1 team in the country. I also think it’s pretty clear who the top five teams in the country are. And if I’m being frank, Arizona has yet to prove that they are better than Wisconsin, Duke and Gonzaga.
  • Providence, West Virginia and Miami have all won early season tournaments, which means they have top 25 profiles. Are they three of the 25 best teams in the country? Are they better than, say, Georgetown or Wyoming or Arkansas? I don’t know, but I do know that they earned their spot on this list this week.

And now to the Top 25 …

1. Kentucky (5-0, LW: No. 1): Kentucky might be good enough to go undefeated this season. But that doesn’t mean they could beat this Sixers.

2. Arizona (4-0, LW: No. 2): The Wildcats have gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, but nothing that would make them worthy of falling out of the top two.

3. Wisconsin (4-0, LW: No. 3): As good as Kentucky’s big men are, I’m not sure I would take them over the trio of Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes.

4. Duke (4-0, LW: No. 4): Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow have generated the headlines, but it’s been the play of Quinn Cook that has turned Duke into one of the nation’s elite.

5. Gonzaga (4-0, LW: No. 9): I’m not sure there is a team in the country playing better than the Zags right now.

6. Virginia (4-0, LW: No. 6): The Cavs completely overwhelmed a good George Washington team in the second half on Friday night.

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7. North Carolina (3-0, LW: No. 7): We’ll get a real feel for just how good the Tar Heels are as they head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis this week.

8. Texas (4-0, LW: No. 8): The Longhorns might deserve to be higher on this list, but until we know for sure how long Isaiah Taylor’s wrist injury will keep him out of action, we can’t know. Shameless plug: Jonathan Holmes and the ‘Chaminade Crew’ changed the culture of this Texas program.

9. Louisville (3-0, LW: No. 10): The key for Louisville is their supporting cast. Chris Jones is shooting 29.5 percent from the floor, but Chinanu Onuaku is 10-for-10 since the Minnesota game.

10. Villanova (3-0, LW: No. 11): Villanova has struggled in two of their three games this season, but they haven’t lost yet.

11. Wichita State (3-0, LW: No. 12)
12. VCU (3-0, LW: No. 13)
13. Iowa State (2-0, LW: No. 17)
14. San Diego State (3-0, LW: No. 18)
15. Kansas (1-1, LW: No. 5)
16. Oklahoma (2-1, LW: No. 15)
17. Michigan (3-0, LW: No. 19)
18. Michigan State (2-1, LW: No. 22)
19. Florida (2-1, LW: No. 14)
20. UCLA (4-0, LW: No. 23)
21. Ohio State (3-0, LW: NR)
22. Miami (5-0, LW: NR)
23. Providence (5-0, LW: NR)
24. Stanford (2-1, LW: 24)
25. West Virginia (5-0, LW: NR)

Dropped out: No. 16 SMU, No. 20 UConn, No. 21 Iowa, No. 25 Nebraska