Bubble Banter: Boise State, St. John’s, Dayton win the day; Texas, N.C. State lose; and Kansas State?

4 Comments
source:
Getty Images

(This post will be updated as the day progresses.)

Let’s talk about Kansas State for a minute, shall we?

The Wildcats knocked off No. 12 Iowa State today in Manhattan, their second straight massive upset of a Big 12 title contender. This isn’t the first time that they have beaten good teams, either. The Wildcats have also swept Oklahoma, beaten Baylor and Oklahoma State at home, and knocked off Texas A&M on a neutral court. That’s seven top 50 wins for those of you counting at home. All told, Kansas State is 7-10 against the top 50 and 8-11 against the top 100.

The problem?

The Wildcats are 15-15 on the season with four sub-100 losses, including games where they were tripped up at Long Beach State and at home against Texas Southern.

They needed to beat Iowa State just to get over .500 on the season.

Can we really call the Wildcats a bubble team?

At this point, probably not. Their RPI is too low, they have too many bad losses and, frankly, just too many losses period.

But compare this resume to Temple. The Owls have beaten Kansas … and that’s it. They don’t have another top 50 win. In fact, they’ve only played seven top 50 opponents all season long. They also have an ugly loss to St. Joe’s on their resume.

What about Tulsa? The Golden Hurricane have just two top 50 wins on their resume — a sweep of, you guessed it, Temple — and four top 100 wins with losses to Oral Roberts and Southeast Oklahoma State, the latter of which technically doesn’t count because it is a Division II school.

And then there is Texas A&M. As of today, the Aggies do not have a top 50 win, as their sweep of LSU doesn’t look as good when the Tigers drop out of the top 50. A&M doesn’t have any bad losses, however, which should tell you what the committee prioritizes.

Kansas State has work left to do. They play at Texas next week, a game they probably want to win. And it sure wouldn’t hurt to pick up a win or two in the Big 12 tournament. But as crazy as it sounds, Kansas State has managed to put themselves into the bubble conversation this season.

WINNERS

  • Boise State: The Broncos are Saturday’s biggest winners, as they completed a season sweep of San Diego State by going into Viejas Arena, one of the toughest places to play, and leaving with a win. The Broncos jump up to the right side of the bubble with the win, as the Aztecs are a top 25 win. Boise State now has three top 25ish wins and a 6-4 record against the top 100, although those three sub-100 losses are less than ideal. The Broncos can’t slip up against San Jose State or Fresno State, but as of today, they’re probably in the tournament. Considering where they were in December, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
  • BYU: The Cougars got the win that they needed, going into Spokane and knocking off No. 3 Gonzaga, but their work isn’t done yet. Gonzaga now has just one top 50 win on the season. This was their fourth top 100 win to go along with three sub-100 losses. If the tournament started today, BYU would be on the outside looking in.
  • St. John’s: The Johnnies are all but in the tournament after beating Georgetown convincingly on Saturday. They won the two games they needed to win this week, and now have five top 50 wins and a 9-7 record against the top 100. The only reason they’re not a lock yet? They still have to play at Marquette, and St. John’s has a penchant for not playing up to their ability away from home. But even with a loss at Marquette and at Villanova in the finale, the Johnnies still might be in with a loss in the first round of the Big East tournament.
  • Dayton: Welcome to the tournament, Dayton. The Flyers won at VCU on Saturday, a top 15 road win that is now the highlight of an otherwise strong profile. They’re now 22-6 on the season with six top 100 wins and just one bad loss — at Duquesne.
  • LSU: The Tigers picked up a key win on Saturday, completely a sweep of Ole Miss by knocking off the Rebels at home. LSU needs to collect all the quality wins that they can, as their profile has some holes. Namely, they have a non-conference schedule strength ranked in the 170s and three losses to sub-100 teams. They are 10-5 against the top 100, but just two of those 10 are in the top 45. Beat Tennessee at home and the Tigers should feel good about their chances.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane added a big win to their resume, going into Memphis and notching a come-from-behind win over the Tigers. Adding top 100 road wins at this point in the season never hurts, but the key for this group will be their next two games. They play Cincinnati at home and SMU on the road, a game that will have American title implications.
  • Texas A&M: The best thing that can be said about the Aggie win over Auburn is that it wasn’t a loss. Without any top 50 wins on their resume, the Aggies cannot afford a bad loss. Auburn would have been a bad loss.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs beat Missouri, which is important mostly because they already have four sub-100 losses on their resume. Georgia is probably in the tournament as of today, but they can lock up a bid next week when they take on Kentucky in Athens.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes went into State College and knocked off Penn State on Saturday, keeping them safely above the cut-line and out of real bubble danger. They’d be wise to at least split their last two games — at Indiana, home for Northwestern.
  • Davidson: The Wildcats picked up a big win against George Washington on Saturday, their seventh top 100 win of the season. The Wildcats are still very, very bubbly — their poor strength of schedule, a couple of bad loss and just one top 50 win will do that — but with a visit from VCU coming this week, they’ll have an opportunity to play their way in.
  • Illinois: The Illini avoided a bad loss, smacking around Northwestern in Champaign. Unfortunately for Illinois, they’re probably on the wrong side of the bubble right now, meaning that they cannot afford another loss during the regular season. They’re 3-6 against the top 50 and 5-10 against the top 100, and while they have a pair of top ten wins, they won’t have another chance to boost their profile until the Big Ten tournament.
  • Rhode Island: URI’s slim hopes of getting an at-large bid are still alive after the Rams won at La Salle. It’s their fifth top 100 win, but URI does not have a top 50 win. They do have two sub-100 losses, however. The Rams have to win out, and they probably need at least two wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament to have a real shot.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats beat Tulane in New Orleans, which is better than what they did when the Green Wave came to Cincinnati. The Bearcats are in a good spot, and as long as they win one of their final two regular season games — at Tulsa and home against Memphis — they should feel pretty good heading into the American tournament.
source:
Mark Gottfried (AP Photo)

LOSERS

  • Texas: The Longhorns lost to Kansas on Saturday afternoon, a loss that has dropped them to 17-12 overall and just 6-10 in the Big 12 and will likely find themselves on the wrong side of many bubble projections come Monday morning. Four of those six wins came against TCU and Texas Tech, and with games left against Baylor and the now-streaking Kansas State, Texas could very easily finish the season 6-12 in the Big 12. It will be an interesting debate, Texas has no losses to teams outside KenPom’s top 35, but they’re just 1-12 against the RPI top 50. Should a team that doesn’t lose to bad teams but cannot beat the best of the best deserve a bid to the tournament?
  • N.C. State: In the immortal words of one Jeffrey Borzello, “N.C. State and the bubble are never able to truly break up and go their separate ways.” That sums up the Wolfpack’s week pretty succinctly. After beating down North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Tuesday night, Mark Gottfried’s club went up to Conte Forum to take on Boston College … and got blown out. That adds even more intrigue to a profile that really didn’t need to get murkier. N.C. State has wins Duke and at Louisville and North Carolina. They have five top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins. But they’re also 17-12 overall with a pair of sub-125 losses, including B.C. As of Friday, they were a No. 9 seed in our latest bracket. This loss could drop them a seed line. Maybe two. Word of advice to N.C. State: win at Clemson. Beat Syracuse. Don’t risk it.
  • Oklahoma State: All of a sudden, the Pokes are in some trouble. After losing to Texas Tech on Saturday, Oklahoma State is now 17-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12, having lost their last four games. They have six top 50 wins — including three top ten wins — but they also have three sub-100 losses, including a pair in the last two weeks. They get TCU at home next week, which is a win they really need before going to West Virginia next weekend.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost at LSU on Saturday, which is far from a killer loss. It probably won’t even drop Ole Miss off of the No. 9-10 seed range where they are in most projections right now. But it does limit their margin of error. Andy Kennedy’s club already has three sub-100 losses this season and still has to play at Alabama and Vanderbilt at home.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost to Villanova at home on Saturday, which is far from a killer loss. A win would have locked up a bid, but at this point, with four top 25 wins and four sub-100 losses, the Musketeers will be in if they beat Creighton next week. Lose, and they’ll still be in a pretty good spot.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes missed on a chance to beat North Carolina in Coral Gables on Saturday, and while that certainly doesn’t hurt their bubble standing, it doesn’t help. And at this point, Miami needs all the help they can get. That win at Duke looks amazing, but it’s basically the only thing keeping a team with four sub-100 losses and just one other top 60 win in the conversation. Miami needs to win at Pitt, win at Virginia Tech and beat a notable team in the ACC tournament to really have a chance.

STILL TO PLAY

Tulsa at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.
Boise State at San Diego State, 8:00 p.m.
Auburn at Texas A&M 8:30 p.m.
BYU at No. 3 Gonzaga, 10:00 p.m.

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Powell vs. Pritchard vs. Howard vs. Toppin

Getty Images
Leave a comment

At this point, I do feel like we have reached a point where there is finally a top tier in the College Basketball Player of the Year race.

Myles Powell. Payton Pritchard. Markus Howard. Obi Toppin. That’s the order that I have it in, but there is a strong and legitimate argument for all four to be No. 1 on this list. I wouldn’t call any of them wrong.

This doesn’t mean that the players from outside those ranks cannot win the award — it is so wide open this year, anyone with a couple of big weeks will be in the mix — but as of this moment in time, those are the likely favorites.

Anyway, here is the definitive Player of the Year power rankings:

1. MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall

Stats: 22.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 34.9 3PT%

Powell had his best week of the season last week, averaging 29.0 points — including 21.0 points in the second half — as he led the Pirates to a pair of come-from-behind wins at Butler and at Saint John’s. It took Powell a while to get to this point, as he dealt with an ankle injury and a concussion, but there is no questioning the fact that he is the leader and the go-to guy for a Seton Hall team that is currently sitting at No. 10 in the AP poll and in sole possession of first place in the Big East.

And here’s the ironic part in all of this: It took a Powell injury for Seton Hall to really find themselves as a team. They made their leap on Dec. 19th, when the Pirates beat Maryland at home without Powell in the lineup. That’s when the supporting cast found their confidence. That’s when Seton Hall became a team, not just a bunch of guys playing next to Myles Powell.

2. PAYTON PRITCHARD, Oregon

Stats: 19.5 ppg, 5.7 apg, 4.4 rpg, 41.2 3PT%

No one in college basketball has had more, or bigger, moments this season. He scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half and overtime, including 15 in the final five minutes, in a win at Michigan. He had 16 points and six assists in a come-from-behind win against Seton Hall in the Battle 4 Atlantis. He hit a number of big shots late as Oregon knocked off Memphis in November, the only game against a quality opponent that James Wiseman played. Then there was Saturday’s game at Washington, when Pritchard hit a 30-footer to tie the game and force overtime then made a pair of big shots in the extra frame, including this ridiculous game-winner:

View this post on Instagram

Payton Pritchard called game!!!!!!

A post shared by Rob Dauster (@rob.dauster) on

He has carried the Ducks this season. He’s the reason this team is a top ten team.

3. MARKUS HOWARD, Marquette

Stats: 28.2 ppg, 2.9 apg, 43.1% 3PT, 9.8 3PAs

The numbers themselves are ridiculous.

Howard is leading the nation in scoring at 28.2 points. He’s shooting better than 43 percent from three on nearly 10 threes attempted per game. He’s doing it while posting a significantly higher offensive rating than Myles Powell and a significantly higher usage rate than Payton Pritchard.

To put his season into context, there is one other high-major player since 1992 that has made better than 42 percent of his threes while shooting more than nine threes per game: J.J. Redick during his college basketball Player of the Year season in 2005-06. Stephen Curry did the same during the 2007-08 season, when he led Davidson to within one shot of the Final Four.

Markus Howard has been the most lethal offensive weapon in college basketball, and if Marquette was a title contender this season, he’s easily be No. 1 on this list.

4. OBI TOPPIN, Dayton

Stats: 19.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 35.3% 3PT

What Obi Toppin provides for Dayton cannot be overstated. He’s putting up massive numbers this season, and he’s doing it while being the piece that makes everything Anthony Grant wants to run work so well. The breakdown below explains it all:

The thing that’s tough about placing Toppin on this list is that he is not the go-to guy for Dayton. Jalen Crutcher is going to be the player that takes and makes all of the big shots. See: Kansas, when he forced overtime, and Saint Louis, when he won the game in overtime.

But the reason Dayton is in a position to do things like take Kansas to overtime, get ranked in the top ten and have a shot at winning a national title is because of what Toppin opens up for them every possession other than the final one.

He may not have the moments we all remember, but Dayton is as good as they because of him. That matters.

5. LUKA GARZA, Iowa

Stats: 22.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Garza has been relentless this season, and he is absolutely one of the most improved players in the country. The reason that he’s just outside the top four, for me, is because of the defensive side of the ball. I talk through that more in this piece.

6. CASSIUS WINSTON, Michigan State

Stats: 18.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.4 rpg

Winston has been really, really good this year. He has not been quite as good as expected — he was the consensus preseason college basketball player of the year — and neither has Michigan State, which hurts him a bit. I think he’ll be back in the mix by the time the season ends, particularly if the Spartans play their way back into being one of the nation’s elite teams.

7. JARED BUTLER, Baylor

Stats: 16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 spg, 38.1% 3PT

It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that the sophomore point guard is the best player on the best team in college basketball. That’s worth something in the Player of the Year race.

8. JORDAN NWORA, Louisville

Stats: 19.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 42.7% 3PT

On the plus side, Louisville once again looks like a team that can win the ACC, get to a Final Four and win a national title now that David Johnson has taken the point guard reins, and Nwora is unquestionably the best player on the roster. On the down side, he really hasn’t shown up in Louisville’s biggest games. That’s a delicate balance.

9. VERNON CAREY, Duke

Stats: 17.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg

Carey looked like a much bigger player in this race before Duke lost two games last week in large part due to the ability to Miami and Louisville to expose Carey on the defensive end of the floor. Coach K has fixed issues like this before. We’ll see what he has up his sleeve this year.

10. MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State

Stats: 16.5 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.6 rpg, 40.4% 3PT

Malachi Flynn is the best player, the leader, of the only team in college basketball that remains undefeated. And the reason they are still undefeated is because of him: It was his three that allowed the Aztecs to avoid defeat at the hands of San Jose State back in December.

Three Things To Know: Shaka’s seat heats up, Baylor survives, Virginia doesn’t

AP Photo/Kathleen Batten
1 Comment

It was a slow night for college hoops on Monday, but there is still plenty to talk about after some weird results.

Here are the three things you need to know:

1. SHAKA’S SEAT IS HEATING UP

The Shaka Smart era at Texas feels like it has hit an inflection point.

On Monday night, the Longhorns went into Morgantown, W.V., and found themselves wishing Country Roads would take them home before the first half came to a close. No. 14 West Virginia, coming off of blowout loss at Kansas State on Saturday, used a 28-2 run over a 10 minute stretch in the first half to turn a 15-13 lead into a 43-15 blowout. They would go on to win 97-59.

The loss dropped Texas to 12-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Big 12. The Longhorns certainly are not out of it just yet — three of their four Big 12 losses came against teams that currently rank in the top six at KenPom — but it’s getting harder and harder to defend the situation that’s brewing in Austin. Texas has now lost four of their last six and five of their last eight. They are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

But perhaps the biggest concern is that the Longhorns just don’t seem to be growing as a program. Last year, while Texas ended up missing the tournament, they finished as a top 25 team on KenPom and made a run all the way to the NIT title. It’s worth noting that before the tournament started, they were already a top 30 team on KenPom; their ranking wasn’t skewed by getting hot for three weeks in a tournament no one cares about.

The problem this season is that there has been no progression. Texas has been a program under Shaka that has hung their hat on defense, but this is the worst defensive team he has had in his tenure. That becomes even more of an issue when you factor in that they cannot score. They’re 111th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is what happens when your offense is, essentially, a spread ball-screen into a contested three.

KenPom has Texas favored to win just three more games the rest of the season. They’re projected to finish 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12.

That’s not good.

2. NO. 1 BAYLOR SURVIVES

It looked like Baylor was going to cruise to a pretty easy win at home against Oklahoma, but the Sooners had other ideas. They hung around long enough in the second half to make things interesting late. Oklahoma hit back-to-back threes in a 40 second span to cut a 59-51 lead to 59-57 with 41 seconds left, and after Baylor couldn’t find a way to score on their next possession, Austin Reaves cut off a 3-on-1 break to flare to the corner and fire up a wide-open, go-ahead three with less than five seconds left.

He missed.

Baylor won.

And No. 1 lived to fight another day.

3. VIRGINIA LOSES AGAIN

The reigning national champions lost for the fourth time in their last five games on Monday night, this time falling at home against N.C. State, 53-51.

Like Oklahoma, Virginia had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, as N.C. State fouled up three and then missed free throws of their own at the other end. But Virginia is the 346th-best three-point shooting team in the country for a reason, and Casey Morsell missed the game-winner as time expired.

At this point, it’s getting harder to see how Virginia is going to find a way to play their way into the NCAA tournament.

Chris Mack: David Johnson’s shoulder ‘is fine’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The biggest concern coming out of Louisville’s win at Duke on Saturday evening was the status of David Johnson’s shoulder.

Johnson was the best player on the floor for Louisville, finishing with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks as the Cardinals landed a much-needed win in Cameron. But with three minutes left in the game, he landed on his surgically-repaired left shoulder and had to leave the game. He returned to the bench, but he did not return to the game.

Head coach Chris Mack did not seem overly concerned about the injury after the game, and he confirmed as much in a conference call on Monday.

“The shoulder is fine,” Mack said. “He’s just a little sore, but he’ll practice the next couple of days and we fully expect him to play on Wednesday.”

Bracketology: Welcome to the top line, San Diego State

Getty Images
1 Comment

Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Welcome to the top line, San Diego State.  The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update.  SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.

The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East.  As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them.  Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall.  And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed.  The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 20, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown
WEST REGION NC State vs. VCU
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW-AM vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. ST. FRANCIS (PA)

SOUTH Houston                           WEST – Los Angeles
Omaha Spokane
1) BAYLOR 1) GONZAGA
16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST 16) MONMOUTH / ST. FRANCIS (PA)
8) Arkansas 8) Illinois
9) Memphis 9) HOUSTON
Tampa Sacramento
5) Colorado 5) Arizona
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST 12) NC State / VCU
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
13) S.F. AUSTIN 13) NEW MEXICO ST
St. Louis Greensboro
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Saint Mary’s
3) LOUISVILLE 3) Duke
14) NORTH TEXAS 14) LITTLE ROCK
Albany Spokane
7) Wisconsin 7) LSU
10) USC 10) Oklahoma
2) SETON HALL 2) Oregon
15) WILLIAM-MARY 15) UC-IRVINE
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
16) RADFORD 16) MONTANA
8) Rutgers 8) Indiana
9) STANFORD 9) Florida
Albany Cleveland
5) Kentucky 5) Creighton
12) LIBERTY 12) YALE
4) Villanova 4) DAYTON
13) AKRON 13) VERMONT
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Penn State 6) Auburn
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown 11) BYU
3) West Virginia 3) Butler
14) COLGATE 14) WRIGHT STATE
Tampa Cleveland
7) Ohio State 7) Wichita State
10) DePaul 10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State 2) MICHIGAN STATE
15) AUSTIN PEAY 15) NORTH DAKOTA ST

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Virginia Tech Purdue Washington
DePaul NC State Minnesota Saint Louis
Saint Mary’s Georgetown Arizona State St. John’s
BYU VCU Xavier Richmond

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

AP Poll: Baylor leapfrogs Gonzaga, seventh No. 1 team this season

Getty Images
1 Comment

Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor and Gonzaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too.

The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bulldogs and into the No. 1 spot in college basketball AP poll on Monday, using wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. That matches the record set in 1983 for the most No. 1s in the history of the poll, which dates to the 1948-49 season.

Gonzaga (20-1) was merely a victim of its conference schedule. The Bulldogs blew out Santa Clara and BYU, but just enough voters considered those wins to be less impressive than the Bears’ perfect Big 12 start. Baylor received 33 first-place votes and had 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel while Gonzaga received 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.

“It takes a team to win,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team also reached the top of the poll two years ago. “As a coach, you’re just really proud when different people step up, especially guys that have been working hard.”

The rest of the top five looks a whole lot different after Duke, Auburn and Butler all lost both of their games last week.

Kansas (14-3) rose three spots to No. 3 in the college basketball AP poll after victories over Oklahoma and Texas, the latter requiring a big comeback in Austin. San Diego State (19-0) remained perfect with wins over Fresno State and Nevada, and Florida State (16-2) barged into the fifth spot after it beat reigning national champion Virginia and survived overtime to best Miami.

The Seminoles haven’t lost since playing Indiana in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge the first week of December.

Louisville, which tasted the top spot earlier this season, jumped five spots to sixth after beating Pittsburgh in overtime and handling the Blue Devils. Dayton was next, followed by Duke, Villanova and Seton Hall to round out the top 10.

Duke also lost to Clemson earlier in the week, sending coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team tumbling five spots.

“We just have to get older,” he said after the Blue Devils’ 79-73 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I’m really up on my team. It’s a long journey. I’ve never told you that we’re great. It’s a process for us, playing these two teams. Getting beat, we have to learn from it and move on. It’s a long journey.”

Krzyzewski’s team wasn’t alone in getting a tough lesson last week. Fourth-ranked Auburn fell all the way to No. 16 after losing a pair of blowouts to Alabama and Florida, and fifth-ranked Butler was bounced all the way to 13th after the Bulldogs followed up a loss to Seton Hall by getting soundly beaten by DePaul.

“It’s the time of the year when we should be trying to elevate our play, and we’re not,” said Tigers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team had won its first 15 games. “Obviously, there’s a pretty big price on our head being ranked fourth in the country. And so I think we have to respond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

Here is the full college basketball AP poll:

1. Baylor (33 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (31)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Duke
9. Villanova
10. Seton Hall
11. Michigan State
12. Oregon
13. Butler
14. West Virginia
15. Kentucky
16. Auburn
17. Maryland
18. Texas Tech
19. Iowa
20. Memphis
21. Illinois
22. Arizona
23. Colorado
24. Rutgers
25. Houston

Others receiving votes: Wichita St. 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, N Iowa 42, Ohio St. 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn St. 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, ETSU 6, Indiana 6, Southern Cal 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1.

Here’s a closer look at the other big news in another fresh Top 25:

RUTGERS ON THE RISE

The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.

OTHER NEWCOMERS

Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.

ON THE WAY OUT

The Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.

BUCKEYES BUMMER

No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25