Sooners need Warren to grow up fast (cont.)
This week's AP ballot
(Last week's rankings on my ballot in parentheses)
1. Kansas (1)
Dropped from my ballot: Georgia Tech (20), Minnesota (21).
Skinny: When I sat down to do my ballot this week, I felt like a hit man from the mob, ready to whack all those ranked teams who lost in embarrassing fashion last week. Tennessee? Dead. Georgetown? Dead. Florida? Gonzaga? Cincinnati? Niedermeyer? Well, you get the idea.
Here's the problem: I couldn't find enough teams with quality wins to replace those guys and make my ballot truly punitive. My two exceptions were Kansas State, which I have been ranking ahead of my fellow pollsters for weeks now, and Temple, which scored an impressive road victory over previously undefeated Seton Hall. In fact, the pickings were so slim that I actually bumped Cincinnati up two spots, even though the Bearcats lost last week at UAB. Only in America, folks.
My increasing respect for Temple led me to put St. John's on my ballot for the first time. The Red Storm handed the Owls one of their two losses this season -- in Philly, no less. And I was impressed with the way the Johnnies laid down the hammer against a good Hofstra team in the last few minutes of their game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. And remember, this St. John's team is playing at less than full strength.
In the end, I rationalized that I shouldn't overreact to one game. Gonzaga in particular was a tough call because, while the margin in its loss to Duke was prodigious, the Blue Devils were already ranked ahead of the Zags. A loss is a loss, no matter the score. Tennessee was harder to excuse because its 22-point pratfall came to unranked USC, but at least that was a true road game. I decided to give the Vols a half-mulligan, for now.
As usual, I could have selected from about two dozen teams for my last eight spots. I don't rank teams purely because they're undefeated, so Missouri State has some work to do to get my vote. (It's also why I did not put Texas Tech on my ballot the last two weeks. The Red Raiders justified my skepticism by losing at Wichita State, but I do think they're an NCAA tournament team.) I did, however, give undefeated New Mexico some love because not only did it beat Texas A&M two weeks ago, but it did so in Houston.
The four teams knocking on my doorstep this week were Washington, UNLV, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin. Among that quartet, Washington, which hosts Texas A&M Tuesday night, has the best chance to notch a rankings-boosting win this week.
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