My weekly AP top 25 ballot

Posted by Andrew Carter on November 18, 2013 

North Carolina will attempt to keep it together after a surprising 83-80 loss against Belmont.

ROBERT WILLETT -- RWILLETT@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— North Carolina dropped from No. 12 to No. 24 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll, which was released earlier today.

I am a voter in the poll, and I dropped the Tar Heels out of my ballot. I had them ranked 18th last week. Here’s a look at my ballot (last week’s rank in parenthesis), with some thoughts:

1. Michigan State (3)

2. Louisville (2)

3. Kansas (6)

4. Arizona (4)

5. Duke (1)

6. Kentucky (5)

7. Syracuse (8)

8. Oklahoma State (9)

9. Virginia Commonwealth (11)

10. Ohio State (12)

11. Wisconsin (14)

12. Michigan (7)

13. Connecticut (13)

14. Florida (10)

15. Wichita State (15)

16. Oregon (16)

17. Gonzaga (20)

18. Creighton (21)

19. Memphis (22)

20. Virginia (19)

21. Iowa (24)

22. Indiana (25)

23. New Mexico (NR)

24. Baylor (NR)

25. UCLA (NR)

Some thoughts:

--Michigan State is my new No. 1 after the victory against Kentucky in the Champions Classic. I also considered moving Louisville up from No. 2 to the top spot, but the Spartans impressed me with the victory against Kentucky, which had been the No. 1 in the poll last week. At this point, though, these rankings are such a crapshoot. Any one of the top four or five teams in the nation will probably be ranked No. 1 at some point this season.

--I dropped Duke down from No. 1 on my ballot to No. 5. Maybe a bit of a steep drop, but the Blue Devils have a few things to figure out at this point. Most teams should be better in March than they are now, and that should be especially true in Duke’s case. This is a team that’s still learning how to play together, and still integrating Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood (and especially Parker, since he’s completely new) with the returning pieces.

--In the ACC, I dropped both Notre Dame and UNC from my rankings. Notre Dame, which last week I had ranked 17th, lost against Indiana State by 13. I’m not too worried about the Fighting Irish, though. They should be OK. But what about the Tar Heels? They led by eight points with about two and a half minutes to play on Sunday night, but lost to Belmont. Now, Belmont isn’t a bad team. But should it ever be beating UNC at the Smith Center? Probably not. It was an alarming loss for a team that’s already likely to struggle against its most difficult non-conference opponents (Michigan State and Kentucky, and Louisville this weekend, assuming UNC beats Richmond first).

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