Rock Chalk Blog Top 25 Poll for February 15, 2016

In the last seven days of college basketball action, 18 of the top 25 teams in the AP poll have lost. Think about that for a second: 72% of ranked teams lost this week! If that’s not a sign that everyone’s top 25 ballots are about to be turned on their heads, I don’t know what is.

Ryan Landreth’s ballot for February 15, 2016

1. Kansas (last week: 3)
2. Villanova (1)

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever moved a team out of the #1 spot on my ballot that didn’t lose in the week prior to voting. However, I’m making an exception this time because of Kansas’ overall body of work. The Jayhawks made a statement that the Big 12 still runs through Lawrence, defeating a pair of top-10 opponents on their way to a decisive 2-0 week. Kansas has won five straight games and would be the #1 overall seed if Selection Sunday was today. That should justify my decision to move them into the top spot on my ballot.

Villanova, the only other team in the top eight to win twice this week, was uninspiring this weekend. Saturday’s 73-63 win over a St. John’s team that is winless in Big East play is a major reason I’m choosing to drop the Wildcats one spot in my personal rankings.

3. Virginia (5)
4. Michigan State (9)
5. North Carolina (8)
6. Oklahoma (4)

#1 and #2 are pretty straightforward, but the rest of the top 10 is a logjam. Virginia was completely robbed of a tough road win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. That was a blatant travel by Grayson Allen just before his buzzer-beating game winner. For this reason, and because nearly everybody else in college basketball lost in a worse manner, I’m moving the Cavaliers up to #3.

Michigan State may have lost to Purdue this week, but that came after a gutsy comeback and it was in overtime. I can look past that after seeing Denzel Valentine dominate a good Indiana team on Sunday. Buddy Hield may be a virtual lock for national player of the year, but Valentine’s recent surge might make this an actual debate.

North Carolina moves up to #5, while Oklahoma slides to #6. I’m legitimately concerned about the Sooners. Hield is the best player in the country, but I’m not convinced that Jordan Woodard isn’t the most important player on the team. Woodard is shooting 8/39 (21%) from the floor in his last five games. How has Oklahoma, formerly the unanimous #1 team in the country, performed in that stretch? A narrow win at LSU, a road win at TCU, a loss at Kansas State, a narrow home win against Texas, and now a home loss to Kansas. The Sooners appear tired, and teams are guarding Hield better than ever before. Of course, he’ll still get 25 points per night, but if Woodard can’t break out of his slump, the Sooners could find their Big 12 title chances slipping away fast.

7. Maryland (2)
8. Miami (12)
9. Iowa (7)
10. West Virginia (14)

Maryland falls five spots after what appears to be a bizarre home loss to unranked Wisconsin, but the Badgers are very close to entering my top 25. They’ve won seven in a row after a 9-9 start, and you now have to consider them a candidate for an at-large bid.

Miami enters the top 10 after picking up two wins against tournament teams in Pittsburgh and Florida State, while Iowa falls two spots to #9 after a nice comeback came up just short at Assembly Hall. Finally, West Virginia, despite the loss at Allen Fieldhouse, comes in at #10. The Mountaineers are about to be tested, though. Their next three games: at Texas, vs. Oklahoma, and at Baylor.

11. Dayton (18)
12. Xavier (6)
13. Notre Dame (25)
14. Kentucky (22)
15. SMU (13)

When you’re filling out your bracket this year, looking for a sleeper mid-major that could make a Final Four run, consider the Dayton Flyers. Archie Miller’s squad has won nine in a row and is still incredibly underrated in the national media.

Xavier drops six spots after a waxing at Creighton, while Notre Dame climbs 12 spots by beating Clemson on the road and Louisville at home.

Kentucky, who has won its last three games by a combined 80 points, is looking like the team that was ranked in the top three in the preseason. The top 15 is rounded out by SMU, which drops a couple of spots after a head-scratching home loss to Tulsa. Even so, Larry Brown’s Mustangs are still 21-3.

16. Arizona (17)
17. Iowa State (16)
18. Oregon (10)
19. Purdue (18)
20. Indiana (24)

Arizona and Iowa State switch spots as a result of the Cyclones’ road loss to Texas Tech, while Oregon drops eight spots after losing twice in one week. Even so, I still think they’re the best team in the Pac 12.

Purdue, which came so close to escaping Ann Arbor with a road win, fell apart down the stretch of a road loss to the Wolverines. This collapse cost them one spot, while Indiana climbs to #20 after the home win over Iowa. Even though the Hoosiers lost to Michigan State, I’m very high on the Spartans, so I think the good outweighs the bad in this case.

21. Duke (N/R)
22. Utah (N/R)
23. Texas (20)
24. Hawaii (N/R)
25. Monmouth (N/R)

Duke should have lost to Virginia, but it didn’t, so the Blue Devils move into the top 25 once again. Utah re-enters the polls as well, while Texas slides two spots after two close losses on the road against Oklahoma and Iowa State.

To close out this week’s ballot, how about a pair of mid-majors who aren’t getting nearly the credit they deserve? When you’re filling out your bracket in four weeks (!), don’t sleep on Hawaii or Monmouth. Both of them are going to pull upsets in the big dance.

Dropped out:
Providence (11)
Texas A&M (15)
South Carolina (21)
Louisville (23)

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.