Basketball

Latest AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll: Will anyone beat Gonzaga or Baylor?

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The top two college basketball teams in the men’s game are a combined 35-0 this season. The big question for the rest of the season is this: Can anybody topple Gonzaga and/or Baylor?

Baylor has much bigger obstacles to overcome in the rugged, talented Big 12. The Bears have yet to play West Virginia and must play them in back-to-back games. Then there’s Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to worry about. I considered moving Baylor ahead of Gonzaga this week into the No. 1 spot after watching the Bears crush a very good Texas team. But for now, Baylor (my preseason No. 1) remains at No. 2.

USC made a leap in this week’s poll. I had the Trojans in last week and their win over UCLA was important enough to vault them higher up the ballot.

As for the ACC, Virginia, Florida State and Virginia Tech continue to represent the league.

Here’s the most recent poll (number of points, number of No. 1 ballots, number of ballots appeared on, record, last week):

1) Gonzaga               1567 55   63   18-0 1

2) Baylor                1520 8    63   17-0 2

3) Michigan              1438 0    63   13-1 4

4) Ohio State             1365 0    63   15-4 7

5) Villanova             1281 0    63   12-2 3

6) Illinois              1239 0    63   13-5 12

7) Texas Tech             1102 0    63   14-5 13

8) Houston               1060 0    63   16-2 5

9) Virginia              969  0    63   13-3 14

10) Missouri             966  0    63   13-3 18

11) Alabama              911  0    63   15-5 10

12) Oklahoma             863  0    63   12-5 9

13) Texas                841  0    63   11-5 6

14) West Virginia         824  0    61   13-5 17

15) Iowa                 757  0    63   13-6 8

16) Tennessee             690  0    63   13-4 11

17) Florida State         514  0    63   10-3 20

18) Virginia Tech         486  0    61   14-4 16

19) Creighton             465  0    63   14-5 15

20) Southern California   411  0    60   15-3 27

21) Wisconsin             358  0    59   14-6 19

22) Loyola (IL)           200  0    50   17-3 28

23) Oklahoma State        181  0    37   12-5 26

24) Purdue               85   0    32   13-7 24

25) Rutgers              65   0    26   11-6 43

———–

26) Colorado             41   0    15   14-5 36

27) San Diego State       38   0    18   13-4 38

28) Xavier               37   0    10   11-2 30

29) UCLA                 35   0    13   13-4 21

30) Florida              29   0    11   10-5 22

31) Louisville            28   0    7    11-4 40

32) Belmont              25   0    10   20-1 33

33) Kansas               18   0    7    12-7 23

34) Drake                16   0    9    18-1 25

35) Minnesota             12   0    1    11-7 29

36) North Carolina        8    0    2    12-6 41

37) St. John’s            7    0    3    13-7 –

38) Toledo               6    0    1    16-5 35

38) Clemson              6    0    4    12-5 –

40) Arkansas             3    0    2    14-5 –

40) Boise State           3    0    1    14-4 31

42) Saint Louis           2    0    1    8-3  33

43) UAB             1    0    1    16-2 –

43) VCU    1    0    1    13-4 –

43) Brigham Young    1    0    1    15-

I’m voting again this season for the Top 25. Scroll below to see my ballot and my explanations for that ballot:

UCLA forward Kenneth Nwuba, left, shoots as Southern California forward Evan Mobley defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

I am torn, as I said earlier, about which team is No. 1.

Baylor, on a nightly basis, is getting tested with tougher and better teams than Gonzaga and it has yet to lose. The Bears have all the pieces — they are terrific defensively, they are the nation’s best 3-point shooting team, and they are tenacious on the offensive glass. It’s a decision I’ve wrestled with the past couple weeks in particular. For now, the Zags remain No. 1.

I moved USC up significantly on my ballot. I’m not sure how good Creighton is at this point — I was high on that team to start the season, but the Blue Jays have been inconsistent: they struggle to guard teams and to rebound. They’ve got Villanova on Saturday in a big barometer game for both squads.

I invited Loyola Chicago to the Top 25. That team is 17-3 and has been crushing teams in the MVC these past couple months; the analytic sites are fans, too. I was willing to add Drake this week and then Drake lost by 17 on the road to Valparaiso. So, sorry, Bulldogs. Drake plays Loyola this weekend, which will be very interesting.

I bid farewell to St. Bonaventure after its loss at St. Louis and said goodbye to Florida and UCLA, too. I am stubbornly clinging to Oklahoma State — I’m a big fan of that backcourt. I dismissed Kansas last week and the Jayhawks have provided no reason since then to merit inclusion.

Teams I considered: Clemson, North Carolina, UCLA, Rutgers.

Here’s the ballot I turned in Sunday:

1) Gonzaga

2) Baylor

3) Michigan

4) Ohio State

5) Villanova

6) Houston

7) West Virginia

8) Virginia

9) Missouri

10) Texas Tech

11) Illinois

12) Alabama

13) Tennessee

14) Oklahoma

15) USC

16) Texas

17) Iowa

18) Creighton

19) Florida State

20) Wisconsin

21) Loyola Chicago

22) Virginia Tech

23) Oklahoma State

24) Purdue

25) San Diego State

Contact Donna Ditota anytime: Email | Twitter

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