Each week I’ll share the top 10 teams on my ballot for The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Let’s get to it:
1. Kentucky (9-0), last week: 1
The undefeated talk is way premature, and the talk of whether the Wildcats can beat the 76ers is pretty silly, but this is true: Kentucky’s second team is probably a top-20 team.
2. Duke (8-0), last week: 4
Never miss a local story.
Great win at Wisconsin for the Blue Devils who, along with Kentucky, look a cut above every other team in the early going.
3. Arizona (8-0), last week: 3
’Zona with some nice – and narrow – early-season victories against San Diego State (by two points) and Gonzaga (by three last week, in overtime).
4. Virginia (9-0), last week: 6
Great win for the Cavaliers in what was a raucous environment at VCU, and the Cavaliers won some style points in the process.
5. Wisconsin (8-1), last week: 2
A cold return home from the Bahamas for the Badgers, but there’s no shame in losing to Duke – not with how the Blue Devils played that night.
6. Louisville (7-0), last week: 5
After winning a game in the 40s not too long ago, the Cardinals trudged through a victory against Ohio State before getting out and running again against Florida International University.
7. Villanova (8-0), last week: 9
The victory against Michigan doesn’t look quite as impressive anymore but Villanova, which also has a win against VCU, has another chance for a resume-builder against Illinois this week.
8. Texas (7-1), last week: 8
No shame for the Longhorns in losing at Kentucky, and Texas was in it most of the way.
9. Kansas (6-1), last week: 10
The Jayhawks’ game against Utah later this week is among the most intriguing of December.
10. Gonzaga (7-1), last week: 12
The Zags move up two spots after a loss – but it was a good loss, in overtime at Arizona.
Team to watch: Louisville
The Cardinals are very likely to be 10-0 when they play Kentucky later this month, but they have an interesting game – at least because of name recognition – this week against Indiana. The Hoosiers are 7-1, but all is not well in Bloomington – not after an 88-86 loss against Eastern Washington in late November. Get past Indiana, and Louisville should, and the Cardinals will continue to rise in the polls.
Game of the week:
UNC at Kentucky, Saturday, noon
This game was a lot of fun a year ago in the Smith Center, and this will be the Tar Heels’ first trip to Lexington since 2011, when Anthony Davis’ block of a John Henson shot at the buzzer saved victory for the Wildcats. After losses against Butler and Iowa, few will give the Tar Heels a chance. Their best chance? For Marcus Paige to rediscover what worked for him a season ago.