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 how 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. There were four unbeaten teams left in the country when the week opened and that number was chopped down to three when Eric Musselman and Nevada lost in stunning fashion to New Mexico in Albuquerque. The 85-58 upset dropped the Wolf Pack six spots from No. 7 to 13 in my poll, but the majority of voters weren’t quite as harsh. Twenty-one of them kept Nevada in the top-10 and only 22 dropped them below No. 12.
2. Last week, there was a fairly heavy influx of Big Ten teams joining the Top 25 party. This week, it was the Big 12’s turn. Iowa State made its poll debut after knocking off No. 5 Kansas 77-60 in Ames. That boosted the previously unranked Cyclones to No. 20 in the country, while TCU snuck in at No. 25 after improving its win streak to nine games with an 85-81 victory over Baylor in the Big 12 opener.
3. Another newbie? St. John’s. The Red Storm had been relatively underappreciated by voters during nonconference play despite their 12-0 start, but I included them on four different ballots until they absorbed their first loss to Seton Hall two weeks ago. St. John’s responded with two Big East wins, over ranked Marquette and Georgetown, and got Top 25 nods from all but 16 voters.
Perusing the Pac-12
For the second straight week, nothing to peruse. After Arizona State fell out of the AP Top 25, the tumble in Tempe continued. The Sun Devils lost their second straight game, to Utah 96-86, and collected only one AP vote this time around. There isn’t another team in the Pac-12 even sniffing the Top 25, either, which obviously doesn’t bode well for the conference’s chances of earning at-large NCAA Tournament bids.
The Bulldogs obliterated Santa Clara in Spokane, but that isn’t why Gonzaga got a two-spot jump in this week’s AP Top 25. GU moved up by virtue of the Nevada and Kansas losses, and that’s presumably the only way the Zags will be able to climb the polls the remainder of the season, given the strength of opposition – or lack thereof – they’ll see in the West Coast Conference. Two voters placed GU No. 3, 36 more had them at No. 5, 24 ranked them No. 6 and two more at No. 7 or 8.
Gonzaga didn’t need Killian Tillie or Geno Crandall back to dispose of Santa Clara in the WCC opener, but the return of the two injured Zags helped with the minutes dispersement. None of the starters played more than 27 minutes and GU got 30 points from the bench in a 91-48 thumping of the Broncos.
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