The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson is one of 65 national media members voting in the Associated Press Top 25 basketball poll this season. Every week throughout the 2018-19 campaign, he’ll break down he voted, offering three thoughts on the latest edition of the poll, an update on the Pac-12’s ranked teams and a look at local Top 25 representative Gonzaga.
1. The Associated Press Top 25 poll is released once in the preseason, 19 times through the course of the regular season and once after the last net has been cut down. So, 21 polls per season. For six years, from the 2012-13 season to the 2017-18 season, the Pac-12 Conference had a team ranked in every edition of the AP Top 25 poll. On Monday, a streak that spanned more than six years and more than 160 polls came to an end, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Arizona State’s 67-66 loss to Princeton dropped the 17th-ranked Sun Devils out of the poll, leaving the Pac-12 without a representative. ASU, now the top receiving vote-getter, could climb back in pretty easily. But behind Bobby Hurley’s Devils, nobody else in the conference is remotely close to Top 25 consideration.
2. In the midst of the holiday break, five teams were idle this week and the other 20 only played once. There were no games between ranked teams, but the coming week will deliver a handful of them. On Wednesday, No. 23 Oklahoma visits No. 5 Kansas. On Saturday No. 8 Michigan State plays at No. 14 Ohio State and No. 9 Florida State visits No. 4 Virginia. On Sunday, No. 21 Indiana is at No. 2 Michigan and No. 24 Nebraska is at No. 25 Iowa.
3. While the Pac-12 had no representation this week, the Big Ten snuck a seventh team into the Top 25 poll. Nebraska cracked the rankings after winning its fourth straight game and Wisconsin, even after a loss to Western Kentucky, avoided demotion, giving the Big Ten one more Top 25 team than the ACC. Four of the bottom five are from the Big Ten, too: No. 21 Indiana, No. 22 Wisconsin, No. 24 Nebraska and No. 25 Iowa.
Perusing the Pac-12
Welp… nothing to peruse this week.
There was no movement for Gonzaga after the Bulldogs cruised to a 96-51 win over North Alabama in Spokane – a game that saw GU lead 29-1, 35-3 and 48-14 by halftime. Ranked No. 7 for the second straight week, the Zags collected one third-place, one fourth-place and one fifth-place vote, while 42 voters slotted them into the seventh spot.
With a KenPom rating of 324, North Alabama may have been Gonzaga’s weakest opponent. The Bulldogs don’t have a current Top 25 team on their schedule the rest of the season, but each of their next five opponents – everybody until Portland – carry winning records and might be able to push GU if the Zags aren’t clicking. First up is Cal State Bakersfield (8-4), then Santa Clara (8-6), Pacific (10-5), San Francisco (12-2) and Loyola Marymount (12-2).
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