Marvin Bagley III on Duke’s first loss

Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III talks about Duke’s first loss of the season and what went wrong for the Blue Devils.
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Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III talks about Duke’s first loss of the season and what went wrong for the Blue Devils.
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Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 6

By Luke DeCock

ldecock@newsobserver.com

December 11, 2017 09:10 AM

Villanova is my new No. 1, and the Wildcats have been an efficient machine this season. They haven’t been swimming in the same deep end of the pool as Duke and Michigan State – Villanova does have solid wins over Gonzaga and Tennessee – but it’s hard to argue with the results. Duke and Michigan State are clearly the next two best teams in the country, and the Spartans get the nod over the Blue Devils despite the head-to-head win because Duke’s loss at Boston College was not a great one. But Duke also gets a bit of a pass on that one when it comes to moving farther down because the Blue Devils have been so powerful otherwise.

What to do with Arizona State and TCU? Teams like that end up getting inadvertently penalized because they weren’t considered elite in the preseason, and there’s always some poll inertia. In Arizona State’s case, the wins are good enough to jump straight into the elite. I have the Sun Devils sixth with four top-tier wins, while undefeated Miami, for example, has one. TCU’s resume isn’t quite as impressive, but the Horned Frogs make a big jump as well after wins over SMU and Nevada.

North Carolina, Wichita State and Arizona State jump Kentucky because of the quality of their competition versus Kentucky’s relatively weak schedule so far, although things get tougher for the Wildcats over the next few weeks, so they’ll have a chance to justify their position. The biggest struggle was what to do with Florida, which followed up its Duke loss with home losses to Florida State and Loyola (Chicago) and a good win over Cincinnati. Florida stays in the top 20, but Florida State gets its first poll vote of the season based on the strength of that win, and the Gators now have a huge game (for top 25 purposes) with Clemson on Saturday.

Other teams under consideration for the first time, along with the usual suspects that have been in and out of the top 25, included (but were not limited to) Arizona (it’s ... alive), St. Bonaventure, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas. Mississippi State probably gets in with a win over Cincinnati, barring extraordinary events otherwise. Clemson plays Florida and South Carolina, which could vault it into consideration at 10-1.

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PAST BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5

MY TOP 25

1. Villanova (Last week: 3)

2. Michigan State (4)

3. Duke (1)

4. North Carolina (9)

5. Wichita State (10)

6. Arizona State (18)

7. Kentucky (6)

8. Miami (12)

9. West Virginia (13)

10. Xavier (15)

11. Texas A&M (5)

12. TCU (20)

13. Seton Hall (16)

14. Virginia (11)

15. Kansas (2)

16. Notre Dame (8)

17. Tennessee (22)

18. Gonzaga (14)

19. Florida (7)

20. Baylor (23)

21. Purdue (24)

22. Florida State (NR)

23. Texas Tech (NR)

24. Oklahoma (NR)

25. Cincinnati (19)

OUT Nevada (17), Minnesota (21), Valparaiso (25)

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @Luke DeCock