CHAPEL HILL — And a new Associated Press top 25 is out. As always, my ballot is below, followed by some thoughts. This week, my ballot is brought to you by “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” by U2. Because more than halfway through this college basketball season, I still feel in some ways as clueless about some of these teams as I was when the season began.
Been a difficult season to figure, what with all the parity. My top 25 this week:
5. Miami (Fla.)
9. Michigan State
11. Ohio State
14. Kansas State
17. Notre Dame
18. New Mexico
20. Oklahoma State
22. St. Mary's
And some thoughts:
--A new week, a new number one. If it seems like we’ve had a new number one every week for a while, that’s because we have. I’ve voted a different team first in each of the past four weeks. This week, it’s Indiana, which defeated Michigan in Bloomington on Saturday night in what was one of the more well-played games of the season. I thought Indiana was the best team in the country entering the season, and I still lean that way. Because of that, Michigan dropped just one spot in my rankings, to second.
--Just two ACC teams on my ballot this week: Miami and Duke. I moved the Hurricanes up five spots, from 10th to fifth. It’s time to get on the Miami bandwagon, folks. The Hurricanes are 8-0 in the ACC, and are coming off back-to-back road wins – the most recent of which came in dramatic fashion at N.C. State. And, oh yes, Miami did beat Duke by very many points recently – thus my placing the Hurricanes ahead of the Blue Devils.
--And speaking of N.C. State, the Wolfpack is out of my top 25. This team continues to be infuriating to try to figure out, and Lorenzo Brown’s injury doesn’t help matters for the Wolfpack. What’s worse, though, is that N.C. State continues to play up and down to the level of its competition. The most recent example came in that loss last week at Virginia. The Cavaliers aren’t terrible, and they’re good defensively, but that’s a team that was a bad loss for the Pack – Brown or no Brown. And then the Pack let one get away against Miami. I still think N.C. State is one of the top 15 or 20 teams in the country, but the Pack needs to play like it to justify a ranking.
--Five new teams were on my ballot this week: Oklahoma State (which beat Kansas), Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St. Mary’s and VCU. That means I said goodbye to: N.C. State, San Diego State, Mississippi, Wichita State and Arizona State. Biggest jump in on my ballot: Pittsburgh – from unranked to 19th after beating Syracuse. Biggest fall: Oregon, from eighth to 16th after back-to-back losses to Stanford and Cal.
Until next week …