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College basketball rankings: A drastic change after Xavier’s exit from UConn

College basketball rankings: A drastic change after Xavier’s exit from UConn

A new year has dawned, and with it a new chapter. College hoops have formally pivoted from non-conference play — full of easy buy-in games, exciting challenges, and tournaments played both inside casinos and in the tropics — to conference play, where teams have to travel through frigid temperatures and try to win games in hostile cauldrons. This means no more hiding, no more smooth sailing for anyone. Nothing but frozen, choppy waters ahead.

So this may be the last time all season that I can say there wasn’t a lot of movement on my ballot. Here, then, for the first time in 2023, I present the correct ranking of the top 25 men’s college basketball teams, as presented to the Associated Press Sunday night:

Seth Davis’ Top 25 Team for Monday, January 2nd

drop out: North Carolina (16), Kentucky (19), Memphis (21)

always famous: Auburn, Florida Atlantic, Illinois, Missouri, Providence, Saint Mary’s, Utah

Notes on voting

• Those of you who follow my rankings closely (and you know who you are) understand that I consider a lot more than just winning or losing matches in the past week. I put extra weight on who I played, how I played, and most of all, where I played. We all know it’s really hard to beat on the road. Conversely, it means that a top 25 team must win at home, especially if it is against a team ranked lower or none at all.

I had three hits in my top five from last Saturday that I needed to keep in mind: Okunlosing 83-73 in XavierKansas win at home, 69-67 Oklahoma StateAnd the ArizonaFor a 69-60 win at Arizona. I almost left UConn as #2, because there’s no shame in losing to a good team on the road, and Huskies It was the best team in the country this season. I had to, however, move Arizona up a few points because Her victory was decisiveAnd it happened against a good team on the road. Arizona also had a neutral win Indiana and win the house Tennessee In December, pushing an 81-66 loss at Utah on December 1 deeper into the rearview mirror. Most teams will have a bad game now and then, and that was losing to a conference opponent on the road.

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As for KansasI don’t generally believe in penalizing teams after wins, but the Jayhawks have been playing at home against an unranked Oklahoma State team that lost this season to Southern Illinois And the UCF, and they rise close to being lost. I don’t think moving a team down one hole is much of a penalty anyway, but the Jayhawks went down because of my decision to jump over Arizona.

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• I suspect there is still some confusion as to why Houston at No. 8 when cougars It was ranked #3 in last week’s AP Poll and #1 on NET, KenPom, and BartTorvik. The answer lies in their bio. Houston’s best win was in Virginia. A great way to win, no doubt, however Virginia He also lost his next match in Miami. Other than that, Houston’s best win in Fort Worth came against unranked Saint Mary’s. It also has several wins over unranked teams that were uncomfortably close, including a 71-65 home win Saturday over UCF. It’s worth noting that Houston is #7 in the Kevin Pauga KPI rankings, which are based solely on scores, while other metrics are meant to be predictive. There are also some direct results to consider. Houston lost at home to Alabama, so shouldn’t the Cougars rank behind the Crimson Tide? Alabama lost Gonzaga in Birmingham later that week, so shouldn’t the tide be behind the vitriol? Given that Houston is by far the best team in its conference, I would expect this team to continue winning and move up the rankings accordingly, but that’s why I’m putting the Cougars in their place. Scales are helpful, but they are not good news.

• To broaden my view on metrics, let’s take a look at some of the teams where ranking seems to be elusive, for better and for worse. Is there anyone who would argue that Miami does not deserve the rating? Well, the Hurricanes are 33rd on the grid, 37th on KenPom, and 50th on BartTorvik. However, KPI ranked them ninth. They shouldn’t be rated that high, but in this case, the KPI is much closer to accuracy.

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Then there are the two teams that scales love to hate: Wisconsin (44 NET, 42 KenPom, 49 BartTorvik) and Providence (57 NET, 44 KenPom, 58 BartTorvik). The KPI is split on this one – Wisconsin is at 12, Providence is at 64. This is all because the metrics don’t like teams that win a lot of close games. However, when they factor in the rankings and quadruple records, a win counts the same whether they come by one or 100. By the way, Providence has a big game Wednesday night at home against UConn. the Huskies You won’t be in a good mood, but it’s not often that you play a top-five team in your home court. Monks would do well to at least pass the eye test.

On the flip side, scales are in love West Virginia (13 NET, 20 KenPom, 13 BartTorvik, 25 KPI), although the Mountaineers’ best win was in Pittsburgh and they just lost in Kansas State In the Big 12 opener. Auburn It also has strong metrics and still ranks in the top 25 AP though tigers The resume is very skillful. Their best win was at a neutral venue North Westand they had losses in December to Memphis (neutral) and USC (Way).

• The biggest winner this week, of course, was Xavier. This was a great win for the Knights on Saturday under tremendous pressure. The two things that stood out to me are Jack Nung15 points, three rebounds and three assists against a virus. Most people don’t want to get out of bed when they’re that sick, let alone play a top-level basketball game, but Nung pulled it off like a champ. The other was contributions from the bench of a 6-7 senior forward Jerome Hunter, a Glue Guy who played Sean Miller’s brother, Archie, in Indiana. Xavier is a really good offensive team but a very defensive team. Hunter gives this team the toughness it needs at the end of the floor. It will become a very valuable piece during the Dog days of February.

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• I have been most supportive of North Carolina and Kentucky of my fellow voters, but these teams made it easier for me to part with them after losing to Pete W Missouri, respectively. Speaking of Missouri, I gave tigers A closer look, not only for their win over Kentucky but also for their evisceration Illinois In the game Braggin Rights. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how good these teams are, and the Tigers had a very questionable non-conference schedule otherwise, so I decided to wait a little longer before putting a number next to their name. But if they continue to play like this, it’s only a matter of time.


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• Memphis’s loss Tulane On Sunday another spot opened. I was surprised to Creighton In the past two weeks — I even gave the Jays a coveted Buy-Plus rating in our annual Hoop Thoughts stock report — so I gave them last place even though it doesn’t take much to beat Butler and DePaul at home. My point all along was that the reason Creighton had deteriorated so badly was because Ryan Kalkbrenner It was out, but now that it’s back, I expect it to pick up again. They’ve got Seton Hall at home and UConn on the road this week, to be followed by Xavier (road) and Providence (home) next week. We will soon find out if my belief in this team is justified.

(Top photo is of Xavier’s Colby Jones: Dylan Boyle/Getty Images)