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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

Marquette beats No. 12 Wisconsin 74-69 in OT; Howard has 27

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MILWAUKEE — Markus Howard scored 27 points, freshman Joey Hauser added 15 and hit big, late-game shots and Marquette grinded out a 74-69 win in overtime over No. 12 Wisconsin on Saturday.

Sam Hauser had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (8-2). But it was his little brother, Joey, who came up clutch playing in his first game in the heated in-state rivalry.

He scored four in the opening two minutes of overtime, including both free throws after Wisconsin’s Brad Davison was called for a flagrant foul with 3:35 left.

Tighter defense and a decided edge at the foul line boosted Marquette at the end.

The Golden Eagles were 22 of 34 from the charity stripe, with Howard going 12 of 15. Howard and Sacar Anim each missed twice at the line in the final 30 seconds to give Wisconsin extra chances.

But Ethan Happ was called for an over-the-back foul at the other end with 9.2 seconds. Ed Morrow’s two free throws gave Marquette a six-point lead to finally ice the game.

It made for a thrilling finish in the rivalry’s first game at Fiserv Forum, Marquette’s new downtown home.

Wisconsin, which was shooting 70 percent from the foul line this season, was 10 of 21 (48 percent) on Saturday. The Badgers were just 5 of 24 from 3-point range (21 percent).

Wisconsin wasted a terrific effort from Happ, who had 34 points on 16-of-21 shooting, along with 11 rebounds.

Marquette beat a team ranked 12th in the AP Top 25 for the second straight week, having defeated Kansas State the previous week.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The Badgers couldn’t balance Happ’s inside presence with outside shooting, which had been a strength this season. They missed 14 of their last 15 shots from beyond the arc. D’Mitrik Trice, who finished with 10 points, was just 1 of 6 from 3-point range. Davison went scoreless, missing all three of his 3s.

Marquette: The way the Golden Eagles won was another sign of the team’s renewed focus on defense. The Badgers broke through Marquette’s defensive wall early in the game, but had trouble getting off good shots late in the game. The presence of 6-foot-9 Theo John late, after he was mired by foul trouble, helped in the lane against Happ, a preseason All-American.

Happ scores 20, rallies No. 12 Badgers past Rutgers 69-64

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MADISON, Wis. — Ethan Happ scored 20 points and D’Mitrik Trice added 14 as No. 12 Wisconsin rallied to beat Rutgers 69-64 on Monday night.

Nate Reuvers finished with 10 points, and Happ, who scored 12 second-half points, shot 10 of 17 from the field as Wisconsin (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) closed out the win by hitting five of its last six shots.

Eugene Omoruyi scored 17 points and had eight rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (7-2, 0-2), who lost to a ranked opponent for the second straight game. Geo Baker and Peter Kiss added 15 and 12 points, respectively, for Rutgers, which shot 13 of 32 in the second half.

Khalil Iverson energized Wisconsin in the second half with a jumper, a steal and layup on consecutive possessions as the Badgers closed within a point, 31-30, with 19:18 remaining.

Reuvers, a 6-foot-10 sophomore forward, hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 18:05 left that gave Wisconsin its first lead of the game at 35-33.

The Scarlet Knights shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first, with Carter contributing 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting as Rutgers built a 31-26 halftime lead.

Caleb McConnell made a layup with 2:28 left in the first half to give Rutgers a nine-point lead at 24-15.

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are good inside and from the perimeter. Sophomore Peter Kiss has a nice scoring touch and isn’t afraid to roam the perimeter to find a good shot.

Shaq Carter is confident under the basket — scoring nine first-half points in the paint.

Leading scorer Geo Baker, who averages 14.5 points per game, has good sense of his mid-range shooting ability.

Wisconsin: The Badgers overcame a second-half deficit for the third straight game.

The Badgers’ sluggish start against Rutgers included no first-half assists and 1-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin plays intrastate rival Marquette on Saturday at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

Rutgers returns home to host Fordham in a non-conference game Saturday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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

Trice, No. 22 Wisconsin win at No. 14 Iowa 72-66

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The matchup between the resurgent Badgers and Hawkeyes lived up to its billing — with Wisconsin sophomore D’Mitrik Trice stepping up to hit the game’s biggest basket after star Ethan Happ fouled out.

Trice scored 20 points, including a crucial 3 with 20 seconds left, and 22nd-ranked Wisconsin held off No. 14 Iowa 72-66 on Friday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Ethan Happ had 13 points, seven boards and five assists for the Badgers (7-1), who handed the Hawkeyes their first loss of the season in a back-and-forth affair.

“To come in here and to be able to get this one in league play in November, I think it shows some signs that we’re trending in the right direction,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.

With the Badgers up 65-63, Trice — who led the nation at 60 percent on 3s entering play — hit his 3-pointer just after Happ picked up his fifth foul. Jordan Bohannon answered with a quick 3 for Iowa (6-1), but Wisconsin was able to seal it at the line.

The presence of Trice, who missed the last 23 games in 2017-18 because of a foot injury, has keyed Wisconsin’s hot start after a disappointing season a year ago.

“With him out, it was kind of tough because we relied on pretty much Brad (Davison) and myself to kind of bail us out of situations,” Happ said about Trice. “In that situation where we needed a big bucket, he took it and made it.”

Freshman Joe Wieskamp blocked Trice’s 3-point try and turned it into a 3-point play and a 61-60 Iowa lead on other end. Brevin Pritzl got open in the corner though, burying a huge 3 with 1:35 left to put Wisconsin back up by 2. Happ then got around Iowa’s Luka Garza for a scoop to make it 65-61 with 51 seconds left.

Iowa opened the second half on a 16-9 run and led by as much as eight, but Wisconsin had it back even at 54-all with just over 8 minutes left.

Tyler Cook had 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Hawkeyes, who were just 6 of 24 on 3s.

“We didn’t some things down the stretch that we wanted to do. We also did some things we wanted to do…just didn’t make the basket. That’s frustrating,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

THE BIG PICTURE:

Iowa: The Hawkeyes, much like they did in Tuesday’s 69-68 win over Pittsburgh, have shown the ability to fight when things don’t always go their way. That trait was AWOL in 2017-18, when they went 4-14 in the regular season in the Big Ten. “I thought we fought,” McCaffery said.

Wisconsin: The Badgers acquitted themselves well in what will likely go down as one of the toughest environments they’ll play in all season — and Trice continues to be a revelation.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Wisconsin will likely jump a few spots, and Iowa — after struggling to put away Pitt — should tumble at least a few spots.

THE NUMBERS

Iowa center Luka Garza had 11 points but just three rebounds, and Bohannon finished with 11 points for the Hawkeyes. …Ptitzl’s 3 was just his second of the game. He had 12 points. …Outside of Trice, who was 4 of 8 on 3s, the Badgers were just 4 of 16 beyond the arc. …Iowa had just nine assists on 23 made baskets. …Davison had nine points and four rebounds for Wisconsin — but the Badgers were a team high plus-12 when he was on the floor.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Duke’s Destruction Tour resumes against Indiana, Louisville knocks off No. 9 Michigan State and No. 13 Virginia Tech goes down

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The Big Ten/ACC Challenge rolled on Tuesday night, delivering a couple upsets, a dominant performance and few really entertaining contests. Here’s everything you need to know to catch up on the night’s action.

DUKE CONTINUES DESTRUCTION TOUR BY THROTTLING INDIANA

The undefeated dream is dead, but Duke’s inevitable tear through the winter continued Tuesday with an absolute 90-69 thrashing of Indiana at Cameron Indoor.

Indiana got a dose of what only Gonzaga could handle and other teams are sure to be infected with as the season moves along as the Hoosiers simply had no answer for an overwhelming Blue Devils teams. The talent, athleticism and uncanny cohesion for a group so young so early is just going to be too much for just about everybody in the ACC. Duke shot 52.4 percent from the floor, bottled up Indiana defensively and were just all-around dominant. The Hoosiers had no chance. 

Zion WIlliamson had 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and his customary OH MY GOODNESS dunk of the night. R.J. Barrett scored 22 and had nine rebounds while Cam Reddish had 13 points and Tre Jones (who sort of quietly is becoming the engine of this team) put up a cool 15/5/8 without a turnover in 32 minutes. There’s just no way for almost any team to compete with those four. The fact they’ve got Marques Bolden, Jack White and Javin DeLaurier for Coach K to mix and match with, that’s just unfair.

They might get beat again this year, but don’t let these beatdowns, which are sure to be often, let you lose sight of what an entertaining and special group they’ve got in Durham.

 

LOUISVILLE FELLS NO. 9 MICHIGAN STATE

It had been a bit of a difficult week or so for Louisville. The Cardinals lost to a top-10 Tennessee team and then fell in overtime to Marquette, both at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While the trio of wins to open the season were nice, Chris Mack didn’t come to Louisville to beat Nicholls State, Southern and Vermont.

Things got considerably more sweet Tuesday.

Louisville outplays No. 9 Michigan State for large swaths of action, and then outlasted the Spartans in overtime, 82-78, at the KFC Yum! Center. The Spartans were a little short handed, sure, and their most-important player struggled, yeah, but it was the first signature win of the Mack era, a top-10 victory at home.

 

PENN STATE GETS NO. 13 VIRGINIA TECH

It had been 20 years since Penn State won a non-conference game at home against a ranked opponent, but Myreon Jones’ 18 points helped put an end to that streak.

The Nittany Lions nipped the 13th-ranked Hokies, 63-62, to claim their first win against a Power 5 opponent this season. Virginia Tech shot 10 of 19 from 3-point range and forced 16 Penn State turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.

 

NO. 14 IOWA AND NO. 22 WISCONSIN SURVIVE

Both the Hawkeyes and Badgers welcomed unranked teams to their home arenas as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and both had to sweat out wins down the stretch. Iowa beat Pitt, 69-68, and Wisconsin defeated NC State, 79-75.

Iowa got 18 points and 11 rebounds from freshman Joe Wieskamp while Jordan Bohannon had 12 points and six steals. Xavier Johnson scored 18 for the Panthers, who committed 17 turnovers.

Ethan Happ continued his strong play to start the season, going for 19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, while D’Mitrik Trice had 18 points and six assists. Brad Davison, well, he drew five charges.