Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 13

Duke’s Zion Williamson: A dunking monster

Duke freshman Zion Williamson has an arsenal full of acrobatic dunks and photojournalist Chuck Liddy has been there for many of them. We take a closer look at a few from this season.
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Duke freshman Zion Williamson has an arsenal full of acrobatic dunks and photojournalist Chuck Liddy has been there for many of them. We take a closer look at a few from this season.

Michigan State lasted a mere week at No. 1 on my ballot, and Tennessee came dangerously close to lasting a mere week at No. 1 on just about everybody else’s ballot but somehow escaped what looked like certain defeat at Vanderbilt. Tennessee moves up into that spot here as well, with Duke and Virginia close behind.

Nevada falls two spots despite a win to accommodate fast-rising North Carolina (from 13 to 7) and Kentucky (from 14 to 8). Five new teams this week and there could easily have been seven but I decided not to drop Maryland and Auburn entirely from the previous top 15. It feels like there have been a lot of teams in the 10-20 range losing multiple games in a week this season, which I don’t remember happening as much last year. Maybe it did. But it just seems like the bottom half of the ballot has been considerably more volatile and fluid this time around.

Watch a time-lapse as NC State's Braxton Beverly makes a three-pointer as time expires to give the Wolfpack the victory over the Clemson Tigers at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, January 26, 2019.

Murray State would have been in without that loss to Belmont; Cincinnati and TCU were knocking on the door. A note on the the last team in: Washington was my preseason sleeper pick to win the Pac-12 – and was 23rd on my preseason AP ballot – but the Huskies are putting it together now. They had a rough start, losing four of their first 11, but three of those loses were to Auburn, Gonzaga and Virginia Tech, so … not so bad. Kind of like Villanova that way. What seemed to be a terrible start was really just a slightly-below-average start with an unexpectedly tough schedule. (You could also argue Washington still hasn’t really beaten anyone, which would be fair.)

THIS SEASON’S BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12

MY TOP 25

1. Tennessee (Last week: 2)

2. Duke (3)

3. Virginia (4)

4. Michigan (5)

5. Michigan State (1)

6. Gonzaga (6)

7. North Carolina (13)

8. Kentucky (14)

9. Nevada (7)

10. Kansas (8)

11. Marquette (12)

12. Houston (16)

13. Virginia Tech (9)

14. Villanova (19)

15. Purdue (22)

16. Oklahoma (NR)

17. Buffalo (10)

18. Louisville (NR)

19. Wisconsin (NR)

20. Texas Tech (18)

21. LSU (NR)

22. Maryland (11)

23. Wofford (25)

24. Auburn (15)

25. Washington (NR)

OUT Iowa (17), N.C. State (20), Mississippi (21), Nebraska (23), Mississippi State (24).

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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