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AP college basketball poll: Kansas No. 8, first among six ranked Big 12 schools

Kansas moved up to No. 8 in the Associated Press college basketball Top 25 poll, released Monday.

The Big 12 has by far the biggest presence of any conference in the rankings, with six of its 10 teams making an appearance, a remarkable 60 percent of its members. The only other league with half as strong a penetration as that is the newly formed American Conference, which has 30 percent (Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis) of its members in the top 25.

The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 19 and total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

         Record Pts Prv
  1. Arizona (61) 18-0 1,621 1
  2. Syracuse (4) 18-0 1,559 2
  3. Michigan St. 17-1 1,497 4
  4. Villanova 16-1 1,377 6
  5. Wichita St. 19-0 1,368 5
  6. Florida 15-2 1,303 7
  7. San Diego St. 16-1 1,211 10
  8. Kansas 13-4 1,117 15
  9. Wisconsin 16-2 1,074 3
  10. Iowa 15-3 1,041 14
  11. Oklahoma St. 15-3 971 9
  12. Louisville 16-3 804 18
  13. UMass 16-1 781 16
  14. Kentucky 13-4 769 13
  15. Cincinnati 17-2 736 19
  16. Iowa St. 14-3 644 8
  17. Ohio St. 15-3 549 11
  18. Duke 14-4 447 23
  19. Saint Louis 17-2 421 24
  20. Pittsburgh 16-2 419 22
  21. Michigan 13-4 362 NR
  22. Kansas St. 14-4 221 NR
  23. Memphis 13-4 201 17
  24. Baylor 13-4 170 12
  25. Oklahoma 14-4 111 25

Others receiving votes: Creighton 98, UConn 62, Gonzaga 59, California 44, Colorado 26, UCLA 23, Harvard 12, George Washington 8, Missouri 6, Texas 5, Xavier 4, SMU 2, New Mexico 1, Virginia 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 - Arizona: Former Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics great Dennis Johnson, who died of a heart attack in 2007 while coaching a D-League practice, was known as a great defender, good scorer and terrific leaper. Just about every time his leaping ability came up during telecasts, one of the announcers would bring up stories about the jumping ability of his brother, Joey Johnson, who played at Arizona State. Joey once had his vertical leap measured at 52 inches and once dunked on an 11-foot-7 hoop to win a contest. Nick Johnson, Joey’s son and Dennis’ nephew, leads the Wildcats in scoring, and like the rest of the team’s key players is known as an excellent defender.

2 - Syracuse: Having one of the top freshmen (point guard Tyler Ennis) and seniors (C.J. Fair) is such a nice place to start for any team. Ennis, Fair and sophomore Jerami Grant all played 40 minutes in 59-54 victory against Pittsburgh, a Big East retro game played in the ACC. The Orange bench scored just two points. Grant’s uncle, Harvey Grant, played 11 years in the NBA after playing at Clemson and then Oklahoma.

3 - Michigan State: The most interesting numbers column on the Spartans' statistics page is GP, games played. That might be the first time anyone has ever typed that sentence, but it happens to be true. Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine are the only Spartans to appear in all 18 games, thanks to injuries and illnesses. Yet, the Spartans keeping winning, their only loss coming at the hands of giant-killer North Carolina.

4- Wichita State: Indiana State entered Saturday’s road game against Wichita State unbeaten in Missouri Valley League play and Sycamores guard Dawon Cummings had a big day, scoring 19 points. Good thing Cummings made the trip because the rest of the team made 9 of 37 field goals (.243) and 2 of 13 three-pointers (.154).

5 - Villanova: Coach Jay Wright is one of the most universally well-liked college basketball coaches by alumni, students, strangers who recognize him in public, etc. Not only that, he dresses like a sportswriter.

6 - Florida: Victory against Kansas started Gators on a nine-game winning streak next put to test Thursday at Alabama.

7 - San Diego State: Legitimate national-title contenders, the Aztecs have won 15 in a row after suffering lone loss, to Arizona.

8 - Iowa: Fran McCaffery was 26 when he became head coach at Lehigh University. He left there to become an assistant to Digger Phelps at Notre Dame (1988-99) and has been a head coach ever since leaving ND. I tried interviewing him after the press conference announcing Digger’s ouster, or was it a "resignation" or "retirement"? McCaffery was too ticked to talk. Couldn't blame him. Notre Dame forced Phelps into retirement too early. As if to honor the son of an undertaker, my car died on the way back to Chicago that day.

9 - Kansas: Strangest play during a 2-0 week: Conner Frankamp, blessed with best shooting range on the team, has the ball 25 feet from hoop with shot clock dwindling and passes it to a center 22 feet from the hoop in the Oklahoma State game. He’ll have a nice career for KU and some day he’ll be able to look back on that play and laugh.

10 - Kentucky: Julius Randle, team’s leading scorer and rebounder, has not had a turnover-free game, averages 3.3 a contest and 4.8 in Wildcats’ four losses.

11 - Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart won’t miss any time with wind burn caused by the breeze of Wayne Selden’s elbows swinging close to Smart’s face.

12 - Wisconsin: Great unbeaten ride while it lasted. Losses at Indiana and at home to Michigan have the Badgers on a streak of another kind.

13 - Cincinnati: Sean Kilpatrick is one of those college basketball players who seems as if he’s been playing for his school for 10 years. Maybe that’s because Kilpatrick has hit 10 years worth of big shots. His scoring averages, starting with freshman season: 9.7, 14.3, 17.0, 18.6.

14 - Louisville: The nice thing about the name Richard is it comes with so many options. Cards coach Pitino goes by Rick. His son, distinguishing himself as a separate person and coach, goes by Richard, a nice touch. But the full name just doesn’t seem the right fit for outspoken NFL Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. He could choose from one of the many of the nicknames that stem from Richard: Dick, Rich, Richie, Rickey. Any suggestions on which might be most fitting?

15 - Pittsburgh: Throw-back Panthers play at slow pace and seldom shoot three-pointers. That might frustrate some ACC teams.

16 - Duke: As Jabari Parker hit the freshman wall, Rodney Hood continued to shoot great: .517 overall, .847 from the line, .457 from three.

17 - Michigan: Since Mitch McGary’s season-ending injury, Wolverines have gone 7-0, making John Beilein candidate for national coach of the year honors. Why should this year be any different?

18 - Ohio State: Buckeyes take three-game losing streak into Lincoln, Neb., tonight.

19 - Iowa State: Cyclones try to end three-game losing streak Saturday in Hilton Coliseum against Kansas State.

20 - Massachusetts: Year of living dangerously continues. Minutemen have average margin of victory of five points during active six-game losing streak.

21 - St. Louis: Billikens doing it all without a single player from the state of Missouri on the roster.

22 - Memphis: Ten-point home loss to UConn not the Tigers’ finest two hours.

23 - Kansas State: Since taking over for departed Frank Martin, Bruce Weber has a 20-2 record against Big 12 schools located outside the state of Kansas.

24 - Oklahoma: The only coach ever to lead five different schools to the NCAA Tournament, Kruger has Sooners on course for second consecutive tourney appearance.

25 - UCLA: Bruins lost at Utah despite monster game from 6-foot-9, 230-pound sharp-shooter Kyle Anderson (28 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, 5 for 5 three-point shooting).

Comments

Rodney Crain

I live the view from here, nice very nice.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Daniel Kennamore

From the last of the ranked Big 12 teams to the top in just three weeks. Looks like that brutal non-con paid off just in time for league play.

Kansas has played 8 of the current top 25 (three of those on the road) in addition to two of the 'receiving votes' teams and another ranked team tonight.

Our schedule has been brutal.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Tom Keegan

I agree that it paid off. I've always believed the tougher the schedule the better prepared a team is for March Madness. The only that could make KU's schedule tougher, and therefore better, would be if more Big 12 teams played zone. If Jayhawks run into a team that plays great zone, will they have had enough tough tests against zones to be at their best?

8 years, 10 months ago

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Bryce Landon

Gotta remember that Bruce Weber is still living off the profits of Frank Martin's recruits. As soon as they move on, K-State will go back to what it was before Bob Huggins was brought in.

8 years, 10 months ago

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David Leathers

Although he recruited a pretty mean freshman in Marcus Foster.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Robert Brown

Why do you refuse to give this guy some credit? People hated the move to K-State, even K-State fans, but he has definitely exceeded expectations. By the way, have you checked out how well South Carolina is doing. I don't think anyone at K-State misses Frank Martin.

The Big 12 is a league of great coaches and Weber does nothing to tarnish the list.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Tom Keegan

Actually, freshmen account for 38 percent of scoring, 30 percent of rebounding and 44 percent of assists. That's abnormally high freshman production and they all project as four-year players. I think Weber is showing he'll have better four-year players than Will Spradling, a Martin recruit.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Rodney Crain

Thought Texas would get more votes, would love to have a 7th B12 team ranked this season.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Sean Lancaster

Our local Ap voter puts our team 9 while the rest of the AP media sees us at #8. I wouldn't mind a little hometown bias in this case.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Robert Brown

It would not have changed our position in the rankings. I prefer objectivity to home town bias.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Rodney Crain

Tom - when was the last time a team has beat 4 ranked opponents in a row? Since 3 was a semi big deal dating back to Louisville in 2009.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Tom Keegan

North Carolina in 1997.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Nick Cole

Wind burn. Nice Tom.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Doug Fogleman

Best line I have seen in a while.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Michael Gentemann

TK
I believe you have your Grant brothers mixed up. Harvey started at Clemson but finished at OU.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Tom Keegan

Right you are, Michael. Horace stayed at Clemson, Harvey transferred. As bad point guards used to say (when charges actually were called in basketball) after dribbling 100 mph into a defender who had been standing there for 10 seconds, "My bad."

8 years, 10 months ago

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Sae Thirtysix

Ehhhg hem.

Yes that was the only sound I could muster . . . when I read that Keegan wrote something about Jay Wright dressing like a flat footed sports writer. (!!! ???)

Mr. Keegan even if you could find your way to Boyd's in Philly . . . not sure that Omar the Tent Maker is on the staff, stick with the sale rack at Sears my friend.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Joe Ross

My Top 25:

1. Arizona 18-0
2. Michigan State 17-1
3. Syracuse 18-0
4. SDSU 16-1
5. Florida 15-2
6. Kansas 13-4
7. Louisville 16-3
8. Okie State 15-3
9. Iowa 15-3
10. Wichita St. 19-0
11. Iowa State 14-3
12. Wisconsin 16-2
13. Kentucky 13-4
14. Duke 14-4
15. Creighton 15-3
16. Ohio St. 15-3
17. Michigan 13-4
18. Villanova 16-1
19. Cinci 17-2
20. StL 17-2
21. UMass 16-1
22. Kansas St 14-4
23. Memphis 13-4
24. Gonzaga 16-3
25. Oklahoma 14-4*

*I would have ranked Colorado in the top 25 if Spencer Dinwiddie were not out for the season with an ACL tear.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Tom Keegan

Joe, My sentiments exactly regarding Colorado. As for Wichita State, Shockers won four games by double digits to get to Final Four, played Louisville tougher than anybody and have majority of that team back and just about every returning player has improved. Given all that, I find it tough to hold scheduled against them when nobody wants to play them. Your thoughts? -- Tom

8 years, 10 months ago

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Joe Ross

You have it right Tom. It's kind of a question of the schedule for me. They haven't really played anyone outside of Saint Louis. I really like that they beat them on the Billikens' floor, and I'm sure that if they were in a major conference it would be easier to get a feel for where they are. But I worry that Wichita will get so used to playing at the level they are, that when they face real adversity their level of play will fall. Now you make an excellent point about what they did last year against Louisville, and because there hasn't been the personnel turnover that Kansas has had, one might safely assume that the Shockers could repeat their performance of a year ago. But this kind of thinking is fraught with error. Suppose, for example, Team X jumps up and bites Kansas; it should be reasonable that if Kansas defeated Team Y very badly, then Team X should win against Y. But what you see a lot of times is that Team Y will come back and put a thumping on X. So these retrospective considerations of past performance are not always a reliable way of looking at it. I certainly agree that they've done all they can do to make their case, but I try to answer the unanswerable question of how they would do against the major programs THIS YEAR, and to do that I admittedly rely a lot on intuition in a hypothetical head-to-head match-ups (this is also an imperfect way of looking at it, by the way). Consider, for example, what would happen if WSU played SDSU. I can not see Wichita winning that contest at all, and so I rank SDSU ahead of them. And so on. In other words, I ultimately ask myself whether or not the Shockers really are the fifth-best team in the nation. I don't believe that they are so they slide in my ranking, but less because they don't deserve it, and more because there is an absence of available information upon which to put them there and I'm relegated to guesswork. But I won't argue a great deal with anyone who feels differently.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Suzi Marshall

Thanks for that little bit about AZ's Johnson. Nice to know those kind of things.

8 years, 10 months ago

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Tom Keegan

You're welcome, Suzi. Thanks for reading the blog. -- Tom

8 years, 10 months ago

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