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College Basketball AP Top Poll: Kansas, Duke, Tennessee stay 1-2-3

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kansas, Duke and Tennessee were 1-2-3 Monday in the AP Top 25 men’s college basketball poll for the second straight week, while reigning national champion Villanova fell out for a second time.

The Jayhawks earned 56 of 65 first-place votes to stay at No. 1, a perch they held in the preseason before being overtaken by Duke and later Gonzaga. Kansas returned to the top last week then beat Villanova at home.

The Blue Devils earned five first-place votes to stay at No. 2, while the Volunteers had two. Michigan and Virginia each claimed one first-place vote, helping them climb into the top five.

Gonzaga, which lost the No. 1 ranking after a loss to Tennessee, fell four spots to eighth after Saturday’s loss at North Carolina. The Tar Heels jumped three spots to ninth after the 103-90 win against the Zags.

No. 25 Nebraska was the only addition to this week’s poll, though the Cornhuskers were ranked No. 24 earlier this month.

As for Villanova, the Wildcats was ranked 17th last week before losing to Penn — snapping a city-record 25-game winning streak against its Philadelphia “Big 5” rivals — and then at Kansas to fall out of the poll again. The Wildcats were ranked eighth in November before losses to Michigan and Furman knocked them out of the poll, though that turned out to be merely a one-week absence.

Kansas State and Syracuse were the other teams to fall out of the poll. They were both tied with Indiana at No. 25 last week — the first three-way tie in the AP Top 25 since three teams shared the No. 13 ranking in 1991.

The Wildcats beat Georgia State in their only game last week and were among the leading vote-getters just outside the rankings. The Orange lost at home to Old Dominion.

Here is the entire poll:

1. Kansas (56 first-place votes)
2. Duke (5)
3. Tennessee (2)
4. Michigan (1)
5. Virginia (1)
6. Nevada
7. Auburn
8. Gonzaga
9. North Carolina
10. Michigan State
11. Florida State
12. Texas Tech
13. Virginia Tech
14. Buffalo
15. Ohio State
16. Wisconsin
17. Mississippi State
18. Arizona State
19. Kentucky
20. Marquette
21. Houston
22. Indiana
23. Iowa
24. Furman
25. Nebraska

NBC Sports Top 25: Villanova, Syracuse, Purdue drop out

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There’s not really all that much to discuss in the top 25 this week.

Kansas beat a Villanova team that has lost to Furman and Penn, so they get a bump up over Gonzaga, who lost at North Carolina on Saturday. The Tar Heels jump up over Auburn after Auburn struggled to put away UAB. Purdue, Syracuse and Villanova all drop out of the top 25 after more losses while Indiana, Oklahoma and Maryland all make their first appearance in the rankings.

All told, in a quiet week thanks to finals, there isn’t much else to go over.

So here is the top 25:

1. Duke (9-1, Last Week: 1)
2. Michigan (11-0, 2)
3. Tennessee (8-1, 3)
4. Virginia (9-0, 5)
5. Kansas (9-0, 6)
6. Gonzaga (9-2, 4)
7. Nevada (11-0, 7)
8. North Carolina (8-2, 9)
9. Auburn (9-1, 8)
10. Florida State (8-1, 10)
11. Texas Tech (10-0, 11)
12. Michigan State (9-2, 12)
13. Virginia Tech (9-1, 13)
14. Wisconsin (9-2, 14)
15. N.C. State (9-1, 15)
16. Ohio State (9-1, 16)
17. Arizona State (8-1, 17)
18. Marquette (8-2, 21)
19. Mississippi State (9-1, 2)
20. Buffalo (10-0, 22)
21. Nebraska (9-2, 25)
22. Iowa (8-2, 24)
23. Indiana (9-2, NR)
24. Oklahoma (9-1, NR)
25. Maryland (9-2, NR)

New Additions: 23. Indiana, 24. Oklahoma, 25. Maryland
Dropped Out: 18. Purdue, 19. Villanova, 20. Syracuse

No. 8 Auburn outlasts UAB 75-71 in overtime

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Jared Harper scored 23 of Auburn’s last 30 points and finished with 31 to help the No. 8 Tigers outlast UAB 75-71 in overtime Saturday night in the Mike Slive Invitational.

In front of a crowd of 15,856, the budding in-state rivals raced to the overtime finish via the 3-point arc. After Harper scored 12 of the Tigers’ last 15, UAB’s Jeremiah Bell hit a pair of triples in the final 40 seconds, including a contested shot with 10 seconds left to send the contest to overtime. Bell finished with 13 points. Guard Jalen Perry led the Blazers (6-4) with 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

Chuma Okeke added 11 points for Auburn (9-1).

Harper took over in the overtime period, scoring or assisting on 25 of Auburn’s final 32 points. That streak began midway through the second half when Harper converted on a coast-to-coast lay-in. The basket tied the game after UAB led by as many as seven in the half.

“We’ve got Jared Harper and they don’t,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “That happens a lot of the time against a lot of people. We have him and they don’t.”

BIG PICTURE

UAB

Saturday marked the 21st meeting in the series since UAB began playing basketball 40 years ago. Auburn leads 11-10. Pearl said postgame that the teams are in talks about possibly renewing a contract to play yearly.

AUBURN

Forward Danjel Purifoy played in his first game since March 8, 2017, after sitting out all last season due to eligibility concerns. After serving a nine-game suspension this year, he scored two points and had one rebound in seven minutes.

NBC Sports Top 25: Duke back to No. 1, Tennessee hops Gonzaga

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Here’s the conundrum that is going to face voters in the top 25 this week: What do you do with Kansas?

When it comes to resume, Kansas probably has the strongest one of any team in the top seven. They’ve beaten Michigan State on a neutral court. They’ve beaten Tennessee on a neutral court. They’ve beaten Marquette on a neutral court. Every win they have in Phog Allen Fieldhouse this year comes against teams ranked in the top 135 on KenPom.

And then there is this: Kansas has beaten Tennessee. Tennessee has beaten Gonzaga. Gonzaga has beaten Duke. Duke, according to some, can beat the Cavs, which officially means that Kansas is a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

Or something like that.

The point is that it makes total sense to rank Kansas No. 1 based on what they’ve accomplished this season, but I think that even the most irrational Kansas fans will cop to the fact that these Jayhawks haven’t come close to hitting their stride yet this season, and that’s before you factor in the loss of Udoka Azuibuike to an ankle injury.

The difference between the top seven teams this season is marginal, particularly if you are not as high on Duke as I am, and while that means there really isn’t all that much difference between Nevada at No. 7 and whoever it is that you are going to rank No. 1, it does mean that a team like Kansas — who is in a bad run of form — drops to sixth in this ranking.

And to be frank, as long as your top seven is, in some order, the same as my top seven, your ranking is probably going to be just fine. I’d quibble with ranking Nevada in the top four, and I think it’s probably silly to have Duke, Tennessee or Gonzaga outside the top four, but there are arguments to justify it all. I’m sure Kansas fans will call me a Duke homer and say that Bill Self must ignore my calls, but the truth of it is that there are a lot of really good teams at the top this year. Parsing through a jumbled mess like that is never easy.

I dropped Kentucky all the way out of the top 25, as I did Kansas State, but I’ll go more in depth on that in the Monday Overreactions column.

Here is the full top 25:

1. Duke (9-1, Last week: 2)
2. Michigan (10-0, 3)
3. Tennessee (7-1, 6)
4. Gonzaga (9-1, 1)
5. Virginia (9-0, 4)
6. Kansas (8-0, 5)
7. Nevada (10-0, 7)
8. Auburn (8-1, 8)
9. North Carolina (7-2, 9)
10. Florida State (8-1, 10)
11. Texas Tech (8-0, 11)
12. Michigan State (8-2, 13)
13. Virginia Tech (8-1, 14)
14. Wisconsin (8-2, 15)
15. N.C. State (8-1, 17)
16. Ohio State (8-1, 19)
17. Arizona State (7-1, 20)
18. Purdue (6-4, 18)
19. Villanova (8-2, UR)
20. Syracuse (7-2, UR)
21. Marquette (8-2, UR)
22. Buffalo (9-0, UR)
23. Mississippi State (8-1, 25)
24. Iowa (7-2, 23)
25. Nebraska (8-2, 24)

New Additions: 19. Villanova, 20 Syracuse, 21. Marquette
Dropped Out: 12. Kentucky, 16. Kansas State, 21. Creighton

Wiley, No. 8 Auburn top UNC Asheville 67-41

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AUBURN, Ala. — Austin Wiley scored 14 points, Samir Doughty added 13 and No. 8 Auburn had a season low in points but managed an easy 67-41 victory over UNC Asheville on Tuesday night.

The Tigers (7-1) forced 25 turnovers and blocked 12 shots to overcome their offensive struggles.

The Bulldogs (1-7) managed to slow down an offense that came in averaging 89 points, but they couldn’t score much either.

Wiley was 5 of 7 from the field and blocked five shots. Malik Dunbar helped spark the Tigers off the bench with eight points, seven rebounds and five steals.

UNC Asheville was led by Luke Lawson’s nine points off the bench on 3-of-4 3-point shooting. Leading scorer DeVon Baker struggled his way to four points, 11 below his season average. He made 2 of 10 shots and committed nine turnovers.

The Tigers heated up a bit in the second half, making 13 of 21 shots (61.9 percent), and they didn’t do anything to diminish a nation’s-best 26.4-point average victory margin. Their previous season low was 72 points against No. 3 Duke, Auburn’s only loss.

None of Auburn’s top threats had big games. Leading scorer Bryce Brown had seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. Jared Harper had nine points and five assists but also an uncharacteristic four turnovers.

A late 3-pointer gave Chuma Okeke seven points.

The Tigers did have a couple of dominant bursts. They scored 12 straight early in the first half and built a commanding lead with a 15-0 run in the second half. That run was capped by Horace Spencer’s alley-oop dunk and his subsequent steal and layup to push the lead to 30.

BIG PICTURE

UNC Asheville: Has dropped seven in a row since an opening win over St. Andrews. The Bulldogs won 70-69 on their last trip to Auburn in 2010. They didn’t attempt a free throw in the first 30 minutes and made 14 of 45 shots (31.1 percent).

Auburn: Started 2-of-8 shooting with three turnovers and was tied nearly six minutes into the game. The Tigers made just 10 of 27 shots (37 percent) en route to a 33-18 halftime lead.

UP NEXT

UNC Asheville hosts Western Carolina on Saturday.

Auburn ends a three-game homestand Saturday night against Dayton.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

NBC Sports Top 25: Michigan rising, Kansas falling

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The hardest thing for me to do when ranking teams is to decide between who looks the best when you are watching a team play and who has the most impressive body of work to date.

Because they are, in essence, two different things.

Rankings based off of the body of work that a team has put together is fine, but in essence those rankings are essentially a replacement for NCAA tournament seedings. Think about it like this — Furman won at Villanova, which means that Furman will get credit for that win should they find their way into the NCAA tournament, but how many people truly believe that Furman is the better basketball team?

Put another way, if Furman and Villanova played tomorrow on a neutral court and you had to bet your rent money on one of those two teams winning, you’re betting on Villanova.

Because you think they’re the better basketball team.

This is why I think that ranking Duke No. 1 was and still is valid, but that’s not a fight I’m going to fight anymore. We live in a world where people demand a two-point win on a neutral floor to be definitive proof one team is better than another, and I just don’t have the time or the energy to argue about it anymore. Y’all won.

But it does create something of a conundrum when dealing with Michigan, Kansas and Virginia. Michigan has made this decision a bit easier by sandblasting North Carolina and Purdue this week, so the argument can be made that their overall resume is now stronger than that of Kansas. That said, the Jayhawks have neutral court wins over a top six team in Tennessee, a top 15 team in Michigan State and over Marquette, who just beat a top 15 Kansas State team by double-figures on Saturday.

That resume is better than Virginia’s. It’s better than Duke’s. Hell, it’s probably better than Gonzaga’s.

But I am going to rank them fifth this week because — and I do believe Jayhawk fans will agree with me here — Kansas has not looked right yet this season. I’m not sure if Quentin Grimes has actually made a shot since the first half of the Champions Classic. Udoka Azubuike can’t seem to stay out of foul trouble, and when he’s not on the floor Kansas doesn’t look the same. Charlie Moore hasn’t been great. The bench is looking less and less like it’s all that deep. If it wasn’t for the heroics of Lagerald Vick, who has repeatedly had absolutely massive games and hit clutch shots to keep Kansas undefeated.

Winning ugly is still winning, and there is something to say for that. Those concerns haven’t cost them yet, but this is something that Bill Self is going to have to figure out.

And until he does, Kansas is going to drop in my top 25.

Anyway, here is the rest of the top 25:

1. Gonzaga (8-0, Last Week: 1)
2. Duke (7-1, 3)
3. Michigan (8-0, 6)
4. Virginia (7-0, 4)
5. Kansas (6-0, 2)
6. Tennessee (6-1, 5)
7. Nevada (8-0, 7)
8. Auburn (6-1, 9)
9. North Carolina (6-1, 8)
10. Florida State (6-1, 13)
11. Texas Tech (7-0, 19)
12. Kentucky (7-1, 14)
13. Michigan State (6-2, 12)
14. Virginia Tech (6-1, 11)
15. Wisconsin (7-1, 20)
16. Kansas State (6-1, 10)
17. N.C. State (7-1, 17)
18. Purdue (5-3, 18)
19. Ohio State (7-1, 16)
20. Arizona State (7-0, 24)
21. Creighton (6-2, UR)
22. Buffalo (7-0, 22)
23. Iowa (6-1, 21)
24. Nebraska (7-1, UR)
25. Mississippi State (6-1, 25)

New Additions: 21. Creighton, 24. Nebraska
Dropped Out: 15. Oregon, 23. Clemson