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Hard to tell who will be No. 1 after first three in AP Top 25 lose in the same week

Michigan State’s Nick Ward, right, shoots against Purdue’s Isaac Haas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 68-65. (Al Goldis / Associated Press)
Michigan State’s Nick Ward, right, shoots against Purdue’s Isaac Haas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 68-65. (Al Goldis / Associated Press)

Top-ranked Villanova suffered a surprising loss to unranked St. John’s. No. 2 Virginia unexpectedly fell at home to unranked Virginia Tech. No. 3 Purdue lost not just once, but twice.

The top three teams, seven of the top 10 and 16 of the AP Top 25 lost at least once in a wild week of college basketball– and it’s not even March.

Now the question is: Who should be No. 1?

Virginia could get the top spot despite its 61-60 overtime loss to the Hokies. The Cavaliers (23-2, 12-1 ACC) were the top overall seed in the NCAA’s preliminary rankings on Sunday, remaining ahead of fellow top seeds Villanova, Xavier and Purdue.

No. 4 Michigan State could be the pick. The Spartans (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) were No. 1 once before, have won eight straight after knocking off Purdue and are the highest-ranked team in the poll to not lose last week. They were picked as a third seed in the South Region.

“I do think we have a higher ceiling, but whether we get there is a big key,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Maybe it will be No. 5 Xavier. The Musketeers (23-3, 11-2 Big East) have a half-game lead on Villanova for the Big East lead after beating Butler and Creighton this week. Xavier also has Trevon Blueitt, one of the top contenders for national player of the year, and were picked as the top seed in the Midwest Region by the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee.

Perhaps No. 6 Cincinnati will leapfrog the current top 5 and earn its first No. 1 ranking since Kenyon Martin led them to the top in 1999-00. The Bearcats (22-2) are 11-0 in the American Athletic Conference and have the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 39 straight games after blowing out Central Florida.

Cincinnati was slated as the second seed in the South Region behind Virginia in the preliminary rankings.

“This home win streak started before we got here,” Cincinnati junior point guard Justin Jenifer said. “Us being here and continuing it is real special. It’s what we’re looking for the rest of the way, being undefeated at home.”

Then again, voters could leave Villanova at No. 1. The Wildcats have been a decisive No. 1 since retaking the top spot in the AP Top 25 five weeks ago and ran into a hot team in St. John’s, which took down No. 9 Duke in its previous game.

Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East) bounced back from the St. John’s loss by beating Butler despite missing two starters. The Wildcats were the top seed in the East Region.

Whichever team gets to No. 1, it’s sure to spark debate.


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