Georgetown has learned from last year's debacle; more notes (cont.)
This week's AP ballot
(Last week's rankings on my ballot in parentheses)
1. Kansas (1)
Dropped off my ballot: Siena (19), Pittsburgh (22), Xavier (24)
Skinny: This was a week to tinker at the margins, not make wholesale changes. Georgetown was not easy to rank, but I decided to let myself be more influenced by the Hoyas' rout of Villanova than their loss to South Florida. My respect for Georgetown prompted me to enter the Bulls on to my ballot for the first time this season. Otherwise, I decided not to punish Michigan State for its two losses. Both came on the road, and the Spartans aren't the same team without Kalin Lucas.
I took a closer look at Purdue this week because I have been ranking them several spots lower than my fellow pollsters. Upon closer inspection, the other voters knew better (for once). The Boilermakers have won five straight since that three-game losing streak, but the best win came at home by three points over Wisconsin, and they certainly didn't look like world-beaters at Indiana. Still, there really is no good reason to rank Purdue behind Tennessee, which the Boilers beat on a neutral court, or West Virginia, which Purdue blitzed by 15 points on New Year's Day. The benefactor of Purdue's mini-bump was Wisconsin, which beat Ohio State at home and Northwestern on the road (Purdue lost both those games) and split with Purdue home-and-home. I love those stinkin' Badgers.
I've got a lot of mid-major love in the bottom half of my ballot, though you'll notice that I don't have a single team from the Atlantic 10 in my top 25. (That league is having a good season, but this talk about them getting six teams into the tournament is a little overboard.) I could have had another mid-major team in there in Siena, but I couldn't come up with a good reason to keep ranking the Saints ahead of Northern Iowa, considering they lost at UNI by 17 points in December.
I usually don't like to punish a team for losing on the road to a better squad, but Pitt's 19-point thrashing at West Virginia was so decisive that I figured it was time to drop the Panthers, who have lost four of their last six, and give someone else a chance. The list of teams I also considered includes Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Ole Miss, UAB, Dayton, Temple and Richmond. Frankly it's hard to get excited about any of them right now.
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