Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 18

The Virginia Cavalier mascot performs prior to the start of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, March 3, 2018. Steve Helber AP
The Virginia Cavalier mascot performs prior to the start of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, March 3, 2018. Steve Helber AP

Virginia fans are free to quit their complaining now that the Cavaliers are back at No. 1. There seemed to be some general lack of understanding in the commonwealth that Michigan State had earned that spot and wasn't going to lose it for no reason, but in the immortal words of one Rasheed Abdul Wallace, “the basketball does not speak untruths.” With Michigan State's loss to eventual Big Ten champ Michigan, Virginia ascends to the top spot heading into Brooklyn.

N.C. State is one of four teams that fall out of the poll this week, a function of end-of-conference-play craziness that saw the Wolfpack lose an eminently winnable game at Georgia Tech and several other teams endure similar up-and-down weeks. I'm particularly excited to welcome Missouri Valley champ Loyola Chicago to the poll, having grown up nearby.

VIDEO: NC State coach Kevin Keatts talks about the Wolfpack's loss to Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA Thursday, March 1, 2018.

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Florida’s back, too, and I have no idea what to think of the Gators (who lost at home to Loyola earlier this season). I’m not sure anyone does. Only one poll to go, followed by a three-week process to reach the only ranking that really matters.

PAST BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17

MY TOP 25

1. Virginia (Last week: 2)

2. Xavier (5)

3. Villanova (6)

4. Duke (3)

5. Michigan State (1)

6. Cincinnati (10)

7. Michigan (15)

8. Tennessee (14)

9. Gonzaga (9)

10. Purdue (7)

11. Kansas (8)

12. Wichita State (11)

13. North Carolina (4)

14. Auburn (13)

15. Ohio State (12)

16. Arizona (22)

17. St Mary's (18)

18. Nevada (16)

19. Clemson (19)

20. Texas Tech (20)

21. West Virginia (21)

22. Florida (NR)

23. Houston (NR)

24. Miami (NR)

25. Loyola Chicago (NR)

OUT Rhode Island (17), Middle Tennessee State (23), TCU (24), NC State (25).

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, @Luke DeCock