College basketball: Top 3 in AP Top 25 lose in the same week

College basketball: Top 3 in AP Top 25 lose in the same week
Virginia atop AP men’s hoops poll for first time since 1982
nWe’ve reached the point with the Poll Attacks column where readers actually alert me of ridiculous things they notice on ballots as if they’re spies out there working on my behalf. Needless to say, I appreciate them. They’re doing God’s work — most recently late Sunday when WBAL’s Chris Dachille tweeted his AP ballot.

The issue was that a Virginia fan noticed that Dachille had Virginia ranked sixth on his ballot, which is impossible to defend with any body-of-work or computer-based argument. In fact, any body-of-work or computer-based argument should lead a person to ranking Virginia No. 1 considering the Cavaliers are 23-2 with eight top-50 RPI wins and zero sub-55 losses, or nine top-50 KenPom wins and zero sub-40 losses. Virginia has three top-50 RPI road wins or four top-50 KenPom road wins. Virginia is ranked No. 1 in the RPI. And No. 1 at KenPom. And No. 1 in KPI. And No. 1 in the Massey Ratings. And I don’t believe the Cavaliers are lower than No. 2 in any metric anybody references. Which is why I told you Sunday morning that Virginia still deserved to be No. 1 even after Saturday night’s loss to Virginia Tech. And it’s why the NCAA Tournament selection committee did the same Sunday afternoon. And it’s why AP voters did the same Monday afternoon.

But Chris Dachille has been such a good sport about the Poll Attacks, and he seems like the best guy, that I made him a promise. And that promise was this …

AP College Basketball Poll 2018: Complete Week 15 Rankings Released

Appreciate you being cool. And, I promise, I’ll find something else. You deserve a pass for being a good sport. (But that Virginia ranking is WAY wrong. Hahaha.)

Fast-forward to Monday night, and I’ve spent hours looking at ballots from this week and comparing them to ballots from last week, spent too much time doing all of the things I usually do in an attempt to discover something perfectly ridiculous for the purposes of this column. Usually, it’s pretty simple. But this week, for whatever reason, it’s not. So I would like to apologize to Chris Dachille for breaking my promise. Because I’m going to have to focus this column on him ranking Virginia sixth — behind Michigan State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Villanova and Texas Tech.

If it makes things better, understand that Dachille was not alone. Longtime Indiana beat writer Terry Hutchens also ranked Virginia sixth. And, again, there’s just no way to rationalize that without admitting a recency bias. And the other questionable thing here is that both punished Virginia more for losing 61-60 in OT at home to a Virginia Tech team that’s No. 39 at KenPom than they punished Villanova for losing 79-75 at home to a St. John’s team that’s No. 71 at KenPom. Their suggestion is that it’s worse to lose by one point in OT at home to Virginia Tech than it is to lose by four points at home to St. John’s. But that’s not true, according to any metric. And, for what it’s worth, Villanova was a 16.5-point favorite over St. John’s last week while Virginia was only a 12-point favorite over Virginia Tech. So it’s also not true, according to oddsmakers.

Like old times: Yes, it’s been more than 35 years since Virginia was No. 1 in the AP Top 25, but Ricky Stokes still remembers. The current director of basketball operations for the Mid-American Conference was the starting pointguard on that team, which featured college basketball icon Ralph Sampson.

I don’t want to make this about Dachille’s ballot and Hutchens’ ballot as much as I want people to understand that Virginia’s body of work is superb. Yes, the Cavaliers lost Saturday. At home. To an unranked team. I was just as surprised as you. But there is still no way to rank five teams ahead of Virginia on an AP ballot right now.

Did you know …: The current list of Top 25 teams, combined, have a total of 160 losses already with a month still to go before the NCAA Tournament tips off. That is an average of 4.6 losses per team. It will be interesting to see if that average gets up to 5.0 when the final poll is announced.

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife… Full Bio

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New No. 1 Virginia beats Miami 59-50

Tyler [email protected] LogoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2018 CommentsComment Bubble Icon

For weeks, Villanova, Virginia and Purdue were pillars of consistency while the rest of the country struggled to keep pace. 

“I do not get too carried away with where we are,” Bennett said after the 61-60 loss to Virginia Tech. “I always say `thus far,’ and now we have to prove it again. … Now we are going to get a chance to do it again and we are going to have to fight like crazy every game. Everybody is capable of beating everybody in this league and that is reality. If you are little off it is not enough.”

All three teams lost at least once over the last week, with Purdue dropping a pair of games, which would have seemingly set the stage for Michigan State to take over as No. 1.

Virginia instead ascended to the top spot in the land, with Michigan State coming in at No. 2. Villanova, Xavier and Cincinnati round out the Top Five. 

Virginia sits as the nation’s top-ranked team for the first time since the 1982-83 season. The Cavaliers’ rise is a major surprise to many, given they opened the season unranked. They were also named the top overall seed by the NCAA Tournament committee Sunday, as part of a new preview system that seeds the country’s top 16.

Villanova is down to No. 3 after losing to St. John’s. The Wildcats’ biggest downfall?? A lack of depth, so when valuable rotation players like Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are out of the lineup, it stings even more. Before Booth’s injury, Jay Wright trusted six players. Remove a third of those guys, and it makes sense that Villanova slipped up against St. John’s and was in another dogfight with Butler. Paschall should be back soon, but Booth’s status heading into March might be even more important to Villanova’s title hopes than what happens on the court in February. A huge matchup against No. 4 Xavier looms on Saturday.

Neither the AP nor the tournament committee were affected by Virginia’s 61-60 overtime loss to rival Virginia Tech. 

Duke is down three spots after losing at North Carolina, which may seem harsh. But the teams who jumped the Blue Devils – No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Gonzaga and No. 11 Clemson – all deserved to. Chris Holtmann is a wizard, by the way. His Buckeyes were picked to finish 11th in the Big Ten preseason poll; they’re now eighth in the country. The beginning of the Big Ten tournament could be a snooze, but if we get any combination(s) of Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue squaring off, the ending will be a blast.

Michigan State has won eight straight games despite the athletic program being embroiled in controversy following the Larry Nassar verdict and subsequent investigations into the basketball and football programs. 

Virginia atop AP men's hoops poll for first time since 1982
Virginia atop AP men’s hoops poll for first time since 1982

An Outside the Lines report revealed a Spartans assistant coach was charged with punching a female Michigan State student in 2010. He was allowed to continue coaching the team and was later dismissed after being accused by sexual assault later that year.

Miami missed 10 consecutive shots during a 13-0 run by the Cavaliers that put them ahead 26-12. Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said his team was too eager early playing against the No. 1 team, and squandered scoring chances.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has declined to publicly go into detail on the matter, saying only that he has cooperated with any investigation. 

“I’m not talking about difficult plays,” Larranaga said. “I’m talking about plays that were right there for the taking. They weren’t things Virginia did to make us miss those shots. We missed them out of anxiousness.”

“I said, ‘That was one for you,'” Miles Bridges told reporters after hitting a game-winning three to beat Purdue. “All season he’s been taking heat for so much stuff. For us to win that game, for him and Coach Heathcote, it’s great for both of them.”  

An 8-0 run by the Hurricanes cut their deficit to 29-26, but they got no closer. An 11-2 spurt by the Cavaliers put them ahead 49-36, and Hunter’s four-point play with three minutes left sealed the win.

Belmont earns first AP Top 25 ranking in school history

Bridges’ three gave the Boilermakers their second loss in as many games, as they dropped a game to Ohio State earlier in the week. Matt Painter’s team fell three spots to No. 6 following the rough week.

AP College Basketball Poll 2018: Complete Week 15 Rankings Released
AP College Basketball Poll 2018: Complete Week 15 Rankings Released

‘Hoos take lessons from Hokies loss to Miami

“We were right there on the road against the No. 4 team in the country,” Purdue guard P.J. Thompson said, per Nathan Baird of the Journal & Courier. “I thought we played well. I thought we played hard. We just could have been a little bit better, and that’s how they got us.”

College basketball: Virginia climbs to No. 1 in poll
College basketball: Virginia climbs to No. 1 in poll

Villanova dropped to No. 3 after a surprising 79-75 loss to St. John’s. The Wildcats have lost a pair of games to unranked opponents in an otherwise unbeaten season. They atoned for one of those defeats by getting a win over Butler on Saturday.

College basketball: Virginia climbs to No. 1 in poll
College basketball: Virginia climbs to No. 1 in poll

U.Va. rises to No. 1 in AP men’s hoops poll for first time since ’82

Fifteen different Top 25 teams lost at least one game, hence the relative lack of movement for the teams at the top. Oklahoma is teetering on the edge of falling out of the Top 25 after losing three straight games, including a pair to West Virginia and Iowa State this week.

Several factors played role in Cavaliers’ move to No. 1

Kentucky did exit the rankings after losing to Tennessee and Texas A&M, giving the Wildcats three straight defeats as well.

The Aggies are at No. 21 as one of the two new teams in the Top 25. No. 25 Arizona State is the other. 

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