Rock Chalk Blog Top 25 Poll for January 25, 2016

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted analysis on my weekly Top 25, but I figured it was time to get back at these posts. I guess it’s the usual now that if you’re a ranked team, you’re likely going to lose over the course of an average week in college basketball. This week was no exception. All of this madness will certainly tear up the AP Top 25 poll, but more importantly, how will it impact the Rock Chalk Blog Top 25 poll?

Ryan Landreth’s ballot for January 25, 2016

1. North Carolina (last week: 2)
2. Oklahoma (1)

North Carolina takes over for its second stint as the nation’s top team, though I wouldn’t have any problem whatsoever if you kept Oklahoma atop the poll after a narrow loss at Iowa State. If you’re looking for a tiebreaker, give it to the Tar Heels for being deeper and unblemished thus far in league play.

3. Kansas (3)

Kansas is the ultimate wild-card for me in this week’s poll, and it’s not because the site I own is centered around the Jayhawks. At 16-3, KU is unequivocally one of the nation’s best teams. They’d be a #1 seed if the NCAA tournament field was selected today. They’re clearly one of the top three or four teams in the country.

That being said, that’s not the way rankings are figured. In weekly Top 25 polls, if you lose, you drop. If you lose by 19 points to an unranked team, you should take a nosedive. However, in a week where every other team that would have been in a position to leap Kansas also lost, the Jayhawks don’t fall at all (just like what will happen in the AP Top 25). If we’re going off of performance in the last couple of weeks, Kansas is probably outside the top 10. But because of the other teams in the country’s performances this week, coupled with KU’s overall body of work, the Jayhawks should remain #3.

4. Villanova (4)
5. Iowa (9)
6. Maryland (6)
7. Texas A&M (10)
8. Iowa State (16)

Villanova remains at #4 despite seeing its 22-game Big East winning streak end. Iowa moves up three spots after running its conference record to 7-0, including an impressive win over Purdue on Sunday. Maryland doesn’t move despite the narrow loss at College GameDay at a desperate Michigan State team, while Texas A&M, the SEC’s best team, climbs to its highest rank yet.

Iowa State takes a big jump this week, rising from outside the top 15 into the top 10. The Cyclones’ win over #1 Oklahoma on Monday was rather expected, but it was impressive how they managed to perform a gut check and keep their poise after the Sooners frantically tied the game inside the last two minutes. I think the Cyclones have their mojo back, making them a force in a wide-open Big 12 race.

9. Providence (18)
10. Xavier (8)
11. Miami (14)
12. SMU (4)

Providence certainly had the best week of any team in the country this week, clipping Butler and Villanova to climb into the top 10. At #10, Xavier drops two spots after a head-scratching home loss to Georgetown. Similar to KU’s loss at Oklahoma State, it’s a loss that should drop a team more than two spots, but when nobody else loses, there’s not a long way to go. Meanwhile, Miami climbs to #11 by continuing to steadily climb towards the top of the ACC.

The last undefeated team in college basketball fell on Sunday, as SMU lost to an unranked Temple team. This loss drops the Mustangs eight spots in this week’s poll, but I’m more interested to see what happens going forward. Will SMU continue to play hard, despite the fact that its quest for perfection is now over, considering that it’s ineligible for the postseason?

13. Indiana (15)
14. Virginia (17)
15. West Virginia (7)
16. Arizona (11)

Indiana, which I feel is vastly underrated nationally, climbs into the #13 spot after running its Big 10 record to 7-0. As for Virginia, the Cavs had a great week (defeated Clemson and Syracuse) to stop a bad stretch in which they lost three of four.

West Virginia is the team that I felt was most overrated at the mid-January point in the season. The Mountaineers climbed into the top 10 in all of the major polls after defeating #1 Kansas and playing at #2 Oklahoma close until the buzzer. This week, Bob Huggins’ squad goes out and loses a home game to Texas where the team shot 35% at the free throw line. A couple of days later, the Mountaineers needed an incredible gag job by Texas Tech to escape a third straight loss. As I’ve been saying all year, West Virginia plays at the risk that officials will not call tight games. If lots of fouls are called, it can lose to anyone. We saw that in the Texas home game.

Arizona rounds out the top 16 after losing a road game at Cal. The Wildcats have lost four games all year by a combined eight points.

17. Wichita State (24)
18. Michigan State (13)
19. Louisville (22)
20. Baylor (12)

Wichita State continues to win, which earns the Shockers a ranking for the second straight week in the RCB Top 25.

Michigan State is such a tough team to place in the rankings this week. The Spartans snapped a three-game skid by beating Maryland after a head-scratching loss to Nebraska. There are certainly problems with the Spartans, but I think they’re on the right track, and I’m always willing to give Tom Izzo a mulligan.

Louisville climbs three spots to #19, while Baylor, one of the most overrated teams in the country, falls to 20th after getting waxed at home in its first true test of the Big 12 slate.

21. Butler (19)
22. Notre Dame (21)
23. St. Mary’s (NR)
24. Oregon (NR)
25. Purdue (NR)

Butler and Purdue don’t take too harsh of a punishment after narrow losses to ranked foes on the road, but St. Mary’s and Oregon entire the top 25 following some impressive resume-building wins this week. At #22, Notre Dame, which I feel has been underrated for weeks, continues to win in ACC play.

 

Dropped out:
Clemson (20)
USC (23)
Valpo (25)

Where did I get it right, and where did I get it wrong? Let me know on Twitter.

Ryan Landreth

I’m a recent graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University. In addition to writing for Rock Chalk Blog, I host the Inside the Paint podcast that covers KU basketball, and I write for Royals Review in the summer. My grandma has had season tickets to Jayhawk basketball for 30 years, and I have the privilege of going to most games with her.