AUBURN, Ala. — It wasn’t pretty, but Auburn basketball kept winning this week. That’ll be more than enough to keep the Tigers inside the Associated Press Top 25.
Auburn bounced back from a pair of ugly first halves to record double-digit comeback victories over both Ole Miss and Mississippi State this week. Now the Tigers are set to make some sort of upward movement in the Top 25, especially if a few of the voters who left them out last week decide to place them in their ballots.
Bruce Pearl’s team has the longest winning streak in college basketball at 14 games thanks to West Virginia’s close loss to Texas Tech on Saturday. Auburn is in sole command of first place in what looks like a wide-open SEC.
College basketball didn’t have quite as much chaos last week, but there were enough losses to cause some major changes. Here’s my ballot:
- West Virginia
- Texas Tech
- Wichita State
- Michigan State
- Arizona State
- North Carolina
- Ohio State
- Seton Hall
- Saint Mary’s
Auburn moves up a couple of spots this week by virtue of TCU’s two losses and Seton Hall’s ugly defeat. I basically had to reset spots 12-25 on this week’s ballot because of the losses and some head-to-head comparison for the Arizona and Cincinnati-based rivals.
The Tigers should be solid enough in the poll that if they split against Alabama and Georgia this week, they’ll stay in the Top 25. Auburn is just one of three one-loss teams in college basketball, and the other two are Nos. 1 and 2 in my poll.
Other notes from my ballot:
- Let’s break down the Big 12 trio of Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas Tech. West Virginia beat Oklahoma by double-digits, Texas Tech beat West Virginia by one and Oklahoma beat Texas Tech by double-digits. Even though it had the most recent defeat, I’m keeping West Virginia out in front because it’s had the biggest win and the closest loss of the pack. This league has some fun basketball, and trading punches with each other looks better than the resumes of others in the top 10.
- Though I believe Michigan State is the most talented team in the country, Sparty has some issues to sort out over the next several weeks. The Spartans still have a better overall resume than Michigan and Ohio State, which jumped into my Top 25 this week. But if the gap shrinks between those two sides, the Wolverines and the Buckeyes are in a good spot to jump Tom Izzo’s squad.
- Arizona beat Arizona State and Oregon, which beat the Sun Devils last week. A fresh reset of the bottom half of my poll — thanks to a wad of losses from several teams — made me revisit the Wildcats’ resume. They’re playing much better in recent weeks, although that loss to Colorado stings (something else Arizona State suffered). My preseason No. 1 moved up this week after two solid wins in a week that featured a lot of heartache for the middle class.
- Most pollsters will have North Carolina and Kentucky ahead of Auburn, and they might be right in the long run. But until the Tar Heels and Wildcats start putting together more impressive wins, I’ll keep one of the nation’s few one-loss teams ahead of them for now.