Five thoughts on the new AP college basketball poll out Monday:
1. Kentucky falls to No. 12 and I’m a little surprised it wasn’t a deeper drop. Over at CBS Sports, Gary Parrish put Kentucky at No. 20 in his rankings. After all, the Cats were a 10-point favorite over a 5-5 Ohio State team on Saturday and ended up losing by seven at the Barclays Center. If not for Jamal Murray’s 33 points, it could have really been a Brooklyn beating.
UK is now 2-2 against Power 5 teams with wins over Duke and Arizona State and losses to UCLA and Ohio State. Its best win is over Duke and the Blue Devils dropped from seventh to 15th after losing in overtime to Utah at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
2. Louisville continues its climb. The Cards are now at No. 16 after being unranked in pre-season and the first two weeks of the poll. The Cardinals entered at No. 24 and have moved up from No. 22 to No. 19 and now to No. 16.
Louisville has a busy schedule this week with home games against Missouri-Kansas City on Tuesday and Utah Valley on Wednesday before traveling to Lexington for the annual rivalry game against Kentucky on Saturday, the day after Christmas.
3. Say hello to South Carolina. Frank Martin’s team cracks the poll this week at No. 25 thanks to a 10-0 start. It’s the first time the Gamecocks have been ranked in men’s basketball since 2004. Before this season, Martin was 45-54 for his three seasons in Columbia.
The Gamecocks won at arch-rival Clemson 69-59 on Friday night. They play St. John’s on Tuesday night in a 9:00 game at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The CBS Sports Network will be televising.
4. Texas A&M moved up from No. 24 to No. 21 thanks to the Aggies 80-61 win over then No. 16 Baylor on Saturday. Billy Kennedy’s club is 9-2 with losses to Syracuse in the Bahamas and at Arizona State.
Jalen Jones and Danuel House each scored 17 points Saturday as the Aggies rolled over Baylor. Texas A&M led 51-30 at the half and held the Bears to just 35.6 percent from the floor. Remember, Kentucky travels to College Station on Feb. 20.
5. Xavier moved up to No. 6. The Muskies haven’t just been winning, they’ve been killing people. They won by 16 at Michigan, by 19 over Alabama, by 29 over Dayton, by 31 over Western Kentucky, by 10 over Cincinnati and by 24 over Auburn. Just to name a few.
Chris Mack’s team wasn’t even ranked in the pre-season. Now it has climbed into the Top 10 before traveling to Wake Forest on Tuesday night. Wake Forest is 8-2. The game is part of the Skip Prosser Classic series honoring the late coach who coached at both schools.
AP College basketball poll
1. Michigan State - Third straight week the Spartans have been No. 1
2. Kansas - Jayhawks play at San Diego State on Tuesday night
3. Oklahoma - Sooners boast nation’s No. 2 defense says Pomeroy
4. Maryland - On the way back up after loss at North Carolina
5. Virginia - Make jump from No. 10 after beating Villanova
6. Xavier - Chris Mack has a deep bench and lots of talent
7. North Carolina - Impressed in Saturday win over UCLA
8. Arizona - Wildcats are 11-1 with lone loss coming to Providence
9. Butler - Moved up from 17th after 74-68 win over Purdue
10. Providence - Unranked until Week 4 the Friars crack the Top 10
11. Iowa State - Lost to Northern Iowa team that also beat UNC
12. Kentucky - Sagarin’s computer dropped UK to No. 25
13. Miami - Only loss to Northeastern team Michigan State handled
14. Purdue - Boilers still nation’s best defensive team says Pomeroy
15. Duke - Blue Devils are struggling without Amile Jefferson
16. Louisville - No. 2 behind Michigan State in Sagarin ratings
17. Villanova - More trouble in big games, losing to Virginia
18. SMU - Mustangs unbeaten but haven’t played anybody
19. West Virginia - Plays host to Eastern Kentucky on Monday
20. George Washington - Colonials are the only team to beat Virginia
21. Texas A&M - Flexed muscles to bash Baylor on Saturday
22. Cincinnati - Losses to Butler and Xavier nothing to be ashamed of
23. Baylor - Bears have played two road games and lost both
24. Utah - Win over Duke at Garden puts Utes back in poll
25. South Carolina - Frank Martin finally seeing results in Columbia