Duke remains at the top of our poll this week, and frankly, it’s well-deserved.
Duke is 10-0 on the season. They’ve beaten the team that I have at No. 2, Michigan State, on a neutral floor. They’ve also beaten Texas and the team that I have at No. 5, Florida, on a neutral floor. They’ve beaten Texas. They won at Indiana when Assembly Hall was as loud as it can possibly get.
If they’re not the consensus No. 1 team in the on Monday, then someone is going something wrong.
I still think Michigan State would beat Duke on a neutral floor today.
I ranted about this on the podcast on Friday, but my thinking is really pretty simple. Let’s start with this — as I wrote in a column, I’m torn on whether or not I think Duke is really, really good or just a pretty good team that has caught fire at the right time.
Combine that with this: Part of the reason that the Blue Devils can make a late run on teams is because Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter can just wear your front line out. You start getting in foul trouble, you stop playing the way you want to play and Duke’s size just takes over. Michigan State has legitimately seven big men that can play at this level of basketball. They’re not going to get worn down by anyone. They’re not going to be troubled by foul trouble. Their size can wear down Duke’s size.
The margins are fine, and I know Bagley didn’t play in the first matchup, but if you’re asking me to bet my mortgage on the money line of that rematch, it’s on Michigan State.
One other note: I know that I have Wichita State in front of Notre Dame despite the fact that Notre Dame has a neutral court win over the Shockers. That’s frowned upon. But here’s my rationale, and if you think it’s dumb, oh well: I think Wichita State is a better team than Notre Dame this season. For Notre Dame to win, they needed three things to happen in the final 14 seconds to cap a comeback from 14 points down: 1. Connor Frankamp to give the ball away under his own basket; 2. Austin Reaves to miss the front-end of a one-and-one, the only free throw he’s missed this season; and 3. center Martinas Geben to make two free throws, one of which got the friendliest, most “soft rims in Maui” bounce in the history of the soft rims in Maui.
This is Exhibit A that sometimes weird things happen in basketball games.
*(NOTE: We all make mistakes, mine was forgetting to add Purdue to the top 25. They would have been at No. 20.)
1. Duke, 10-0 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Michigan State, 7-1 (2)
3. Kansas, 7-0 (3)
4. Villanova, 8-0 (4)
5. Florida, 5-1 (5)
6. Texas A&M, 7-0 (6)
7. Miami, 7-0 (11)
8. Wichita State, 6-1 (9)
9. Gonzaga, 7-1 (12)
10. Xavier, 7-1 (13)
11. Notre Dame, 7-1 (7)
12. Minnesota, 8-1 (10)
13. Cincinnati, 7-1 (8)
14. Kentucky, 7-1 (15)
15. Seton Hall, 7-1 (17)
16. Virginia, 8-0 (19)
17. West Virginia, 7-1 (23)
18. Arizona State, 7-0 (22)
19. North Carolina, 8-1 (24)
20.* Purdue, 8-2 (NR)
20. Texas Tech, 6-1 (18)
21. TCU, 8-0 (NR)
22. Arizona, 5-3 (NR)
23. Texas, 5-2 (NR)
24. Baylor, 5-2 (20)
25. Creighton, 5-1 (21)
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 TCU, No. 23 Arizona, No. 24 Texas
DROPPED OUT: No. 14 Louisville, No. 16 USC, No. 25 Alabama