Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 6

Duke’s Zion Williamson is a ‘Dunk Monster’

The Blue Devil freshman talks about his dunking prowess and the energy it provides the already hyper Cameron Crazies.
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The Blue Devil freshman talks about his dunking prowess and the energy it provides the already hyper Cameron Crazies.

Poor Tennessee. The Volunteers beat the No. 1 team in the country (No. 2 on my ballot) and are rewarded for their endeavor by … remaining at No. 7. This presents one of the difficulties of this poll: That single win is terrific, and Tennessee probably deserves to move up, but that requires one of the six teams ahead of the Volunteers to deserve to move down. And all six of those teams – Gonzaga included – remain better both in terms of predictive analytics and resume than Tennessee at this point, roughly a third of the way through the regular season.

It’s a tough fix to be in, but when you look at the season as a whole, it’s hard to move Tennessee past any of those teams. That said, the Volunteers are certainly in a position to pounce if one of those six teams stumbles – perhaps, just for example, Gonzaga at North Carolina on Saturday – and as they move through what is shaping up to be a stacked-at-the-top SEC. That win may not help Tennessee this week when it comes to my ballot, but it almost certainly will down the road.

Kentucky hangs on by its fingernails, clearly with top-25 talent but with little to show for it so far. Consider the Wildcats on double-secret probation. Houston and St. John’s were on the bubble last week and the Cougars get in but Marquette jumps its Big East rival on the strength of a home win over Wisconsin

Last two teams out: Cincinnati and Syracuse. (N.C. State isn’t far behind, before you ask.) Three new teams: Indiana, Houston, Marquette.

THIS SEASON’S BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5

MY TOP 25

1. Kansas (Last week: 1)

2. Duke (3)

3. Michigan (4)

4. Nevada (5)

5. Gonzaga (2)

6. Virginia (6)

7. Tennessee (7)

8. Auburn (8)

9. Texas Tech (9)

10. Michigan State (12)

11. North Carolina (11)

12. Buffalo (13)

13. Florida State (14)

14. Virginia Tech (15)

15. Mississippi State (17)

16. Villanova (21)

17. Ohio State (24)

18. Furman (20)

19. Wisconsin (16)

20. Oklahoma (25)

21. Arizona State (18)

22. Indiana (NR)

23. Houston (NR)

24. Marquette (NR)

25. Kentucky (10)

OUT Kansas State (19), Nebraska (22), Iowa State (23).

Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.

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