Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 3

The toughest question to answer this week wasn’t Furman, which was a no-brainer, but what to do with Purdue. I did not have the Boilermakers ranked on my first two ballots but was prepared to move them in even as I sat and watched their (narrow) loss to Virginia Tech.

In the end, that loss – to a team I have ranked in the top 15 on a neutral court – wasn’t disqualifying. So Purdue moves in despite the loss, in part because results elsewhere opened up so many spots this week, creating the potential for a somewhat odd situation where the Boilermakers fall out of the poll at the same time they enter my ballot.

I’d like to consider some more teams from outside the Big Ten, which claimed three of the four open spots (and Iowa is right there, too), and the Power 5+Big East in general, but it’s difficult given the quality of competition so far.

Big games ahead for UC-Irvine (St. Mary’s, Nov. 28), Saint Louis (Butler, Dec. 1), Loyola Marymount (UCLA, Dec. 2) and Belmont (UCLA, Dec. 15). That also makes those big games for UCLA, currently unranked on my ballot, but the Bruins have Michigan State on Thursday to make their case first.

There are two other teams beyond UCLA likely to be in the top 25 this week that are still not on my ballot: TCU and LSU. Meanwhile, I was the only person voting for Xavier and Texas Tech. We had a good run while it lasted, Xavier. I’m curious to see if the Red Raiders get any other votes this week. (They probably will not, but might if they beat Southern Cal on Monday in Kansas City, which would be their first notable win.)

And Syracuse will be back eventually, I assume, but that’s not a top-25 team right now. Seeing the Orange lose on a Thursday night at Madison Square Garden was like a preview of the 2026 ACC tournament.

THIS SEASON’S BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2

MY TOP 25

1. Duke (1)

2. Kansas (2)

3. Gonzaga (3)

4. North Carolina (4)

5. Nevada (5)

6. Virginia (6)

7. Tennessee (8)

8. Auburn (9)

9. Michigan (18)

10. Kentucky (10)

11. Kansas State (13)

12. Mississippi State (14)

13. Michigan State (16)

14. Virginia Tech (19)

15. Clemson (17)

16. Florida State (20)

17. Oregon (11)

18. Texas Tech (21)

19. Buffalo (23)

20. Washington (25)

21. Ohio State (NR)

22. Furman (NR)

23. Purdue (NR)

24. Wisconsin (NR)

25. Villanova (7)

OUT Syracuse (12), West Virginia (15), Marquette (22), Xavier (24).

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @Luke DeCock

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