Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 16

Zion Williamson breaks down win over N.C. State

Williamson scores 32 points as Duke rolls past N.C. State 94-78
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Williamson scores 32 points as Duke rolls past N.C. State 94-78

Wofford is up to 21 on my ballot this week and if anyone’s paying attention, should crack the actual top-25 this week as well after a resounding win over a very good UNC Greensboro team. The Southern Conference is shaping up to be a potential two-bid conference this year (if Wofford loses in the conference tournament, it has the at-large profile of an 8-10 seed with all four losses to really good teams, a win at South Carolina and no bad losses).

I spent a little time playing around with Bart Torvik’s teamcast tool to see if I could conjure up a three-bid SoCon with a Furman win over Wofford on Saturday and a UNC Greensboro tournament win. The best I could do was getting Furman to “first team out,” which isn’t as close as it sounds because it doesn’t account for bid thieves (upset conference tournament winners) and the committee is naturally going to discount Furman’s resume even though the SoCon ranks ahead of the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, and those are high-mid-major conferences (we need better terminology – Tier II conferences?) the committee would never blink at giving another at-large spot. Even in a perfect world, it sadly feels like #3bidSoCon is a bid too far, but there’s a real chance of #2bidSoCon if Wofford slips up.

And thanks to all the people who tweeted at me about moving Duke to No. 1 ahead of Tennessee when the Blue Devils were down 23 at Louisville. Hope the rest of your night went well. Gonzaga moves up to No. 2; in my mind, there’s a clear gap between Duke and Gonzaga, and an equally clear gap between Duke and Gonzaga and the rest of the world.

Speaking of the angry online world, a note on Kansas State, whose fans were very, uh, concerned that I did not have the Wildcats ranked last week. Nor do I have them ranked this week, although presumably there will be less concern after a home loss to Iowa State, not a terrible loss but still a game a top-25 team should win at home. Because most everyone else pretty much held serve, there was only one spot open in my top 25 this week and it went to Virginia Tech, which appears to be back on track and has the edge on Kansas State.

Kansas State plays two should-win games this week (at West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma State) so the door is open. But let’s remember the Wildcats are still ranked 32nd in efficiency rating per KenPom and 34th in BPI at the moment; despite slightly stronger resume metrics, that’s still a fringe top-25 team.

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 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15

MY TOP 25

1. Duke (Last week: 1)

2. Gonzaga (3)

3. Virginia (4)

4. Michigan State (8)

5. Kentucky (6)

6. Tennessee (2)

7. Michigan (7)

8. North Carolina (5)

9. Nevada (9)

10. Houston (10)

11. Texas Tech (12)

12. Kansas (16)

13. Purdue (11)

14. Iowa (14)

15. Marquette (13)

16. Villanova (15)

17. LSU (18)

18. Iowa State (19)

19. Florida State (20)

20. Buffalo (21)

21. Wofford (24)

22. Wisconsin (17)

23. Virginia Tech (NR)

24. Louisvlle (22)

25. Maryland (23)

OUT Lipscomb (25).

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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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