AUBURN, Ala. — After watching a masterpiece of a college basketball game Saturday between Kentucky and North Carolina, I felt like it was time to make a few noteworthy moves in my AP Top 25 poll ballot.
The week that was in college basketball didn’t offer a lot of earth-shattering games, but UK-UNC and Indiana-Butler more than made up for it.
John Calipari’s Wildcats moved up several spots after the high-scoring victory over the Tar Heels, and Butler continued to climb with a few other teams that are impressively taking care of business this month.
Before we get to my Top 25 ballot, here are a few bullet points from the week:
- Kentucky’s win over North Carolina was one of the greatest college basketball games I’ve ever seen. Watching Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox trade buckets with an experienced UNC squad was incredible entertainment. Kentucky’s win furthers my belief that this is the nation’s most talented team and that a surge back to the top 5 was imminent. Knocking off the Tar Heels like that places Kentucky at No. 3 in my poll, right behind undefeated Villanova and the UCLA team that beat the Wildcats.
- Duke and Baylor didn’t do anything to drop this week — in fact, Duke didn’t do anything at all. I just have more faith in Kentucky at this point in the season, especially after the win against North Carolina. The start of conference play is going to be huge for a lot of these powerhouse programs in terms of settling into their spots in the poll.
- North Carolina only drops a couple of spots for me after that loss to Kentucky. The Tar Heels look like a potential Final Four team, and I believe they’re about to go on a long winning streak during the next several weeks. This is still one of the 10 best teams in college basketball. The 2-loss record shouldn’t take too much away from the Heels.
- Count me among those who are extremely high on West Virginia despite its low strength of schedule. Since the loss to Temple, the pressing Mountaineers are torching teams with high scoring and insanely good defense. They won’t be tested seriously again until the start of the new year, but I have WVU on the cusp of the top 10.
- South Carolina is still a Top 25 team in my mind, even after the close loss to Seton Hall in Madison Square Garden. The Gamecocks have a couple more intriguing games to secure their spot before the start of the SEC schedule with Clemson and Memphis. Like Virginia and West Virginia, elite defense goes a long way for me in these rankings.
Justin Ferguson’s AP Top 25 vote
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- Saint Mary’s
- Florida State
- South Carolina
- Notre Dame