Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 15

Tennessee hasn’t done anything wrong, but after watching Duke win at Virginia on Saturday, there just isn’t any question right now which team is the best in the country. The Blue Devils are the only team to beat Virginia (twice, home and road) and they’re No. 1 in every metric. I can’t in good conscience vote Tennessee over Duke at this point. Tennessee fans will say the Volunteers beat Gonzaga, who beat Duke, and Duke’s loss to Syracuse is disqualifying, but when you look at each schedule as a whole, there’s no comparison. Duke has played a tougher schedule and is better on both sides of the ball.

Hey, that could change next week. But for now, anyone arguing Duke isn’t the No. 1 team in the country at this moment is doing some kind of voodoo economics. It’s crystal clear. (By the same token, Tennessee is clearly No. 1 in all non-Duke polling.)

The same group of mid-majors is still piled up at the bottom of my ballot, more worthy of recognition than any of the power-conference teams that keep bouncing in and out of the poll. (Please welcome back Maryland! For one week only, probably.) I’d like to add UNC Greensboro and UC Irvine to that group, but they’re not quite there yet. Other retreads who were under consideration: Kansas State, TCU, Texas and Ohio State.


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 Week 13 Week 14


1. Duke (Last week: 2)

2. Tennessee (1)

3. Gonzaga (4)

4. Virginia (3)

5. North Carolina (5)

6. Kentucky (6)

7. Michigan (8)

8. Michigan State (7)

9. Nevada (9)

10. Houston (11)

11. Purdue (15)

12. Texas Tech (18)

13. Marquette (10)

14. Iowa (19)

15. Villanova (14)

16. Kansas (12)

17. Wisconsin (16)

18. LSU (NR)

19. Iowa State (17)

20. Florida State (NR)

21. Buffalo (23)

22. Louisville (20)

23. Maryland (NR)

24. Wofford (24)

25. Lipscomb (25)

OUT Virginia Tech (13), Auburn (21), Baylor (22).

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.