Can Duke basketball still be in the AP Top 25? Who is No. 1?

Last week was one of the most turbulent times for the Associated Press Top 25 list in some time. Forget for a moment that No. 1 Purdue was upset at home by unranked Rutgers.

This was the week that saw 15 teams, or 60 percent of the poll, suffer at least one loss. Even stranger, only five of the 19 total losses suffered by the ranked teams were to another ranked team: No. 24 Ohio State lost to No. 1 Purdue. No. 17 TCU lost to No. 25 Iowa State; No. 13 Arkansas lost to No. 22 Auburn. No. 20 Missouri lost to No. 13 Arkansas.

The rest were head-scratching as Washington State, which has a 7-10 record that includes a loss to Prairie View A&M, snapped Arizona’s 26-game winning streak under second-year head coach Tommy Lloyd with a 74-61 victory.

Duke nearly strayed out of the ballot on my ballot after being beaten by NC State 84-60 and needed a last-second stop to escape Boston College with a 65-64 win.

With North Carolina currently unranked, college basketball’s blue bloods could make a dubious mark. The last time both teams were unranked in the AP Poll was in January of the 2020-21 season. (This stretch also marked the first time that Kentucky, UNC, or Duke had not been ranked in the AP Poll since 1961.)

highest height

Kansas State has gone from unranked to #13 on my ballot. The Wildcats followed a risky formula popular for first-year coaches like Jerome Tang. Their non-conference schedule wasn’t too challenging, but the games allowed the team to get used to a new style and build confidence along the way.

Now that Big 12 play is in full swing, K-State has proven that this isn’t a rebuilding year where it should be relegated to the cellar. The Wildcats won on the road at Texas and Baylor, which arguably might be the two best road wins for any team right now.

Kansas State forward Keontay Johnson (11) drives to the basket against Baylor forward Tampa Flo, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte) AP

biggest drop

Duke fell from No. 16 to No. 25 on my ballot. The Blue Devils did not score 70 points in consecutive games (in the same season) for the first time since February 2018 when they beat Syracuse 60-44 and lost to Virginia Tech 64-63. They better find something out quickly to generate more offense or they’ll see themselves out of the polls.

Baylor suffered a similar decline from No. 15 to No. 24. The Bears lost by a combined three points to TCU and Kansas State. But considering their loss to Iowa State on Dec. 31, they’re heading in the wrong direction with three straight defeats.

Welcome to the ballot

Providence has won nine straight and leads the Big East standings with a 6-0 record. I bumped the brothers all the way to 17th place on their debut on my ballot. Forward Bryce Hopkins, who couldn’t get minutes at Kentucky last season, has turned into his team’s leading scorer and forward and an early candidate for Big East Player of the Year.

Providence guard Allen Breed (0) drives to the basket past Connecticut guard Tristen Newton (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, January 4, 2023, in Providence, RI Providence upset No. 4 Connecticut 73-61. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa AP

Outta here

Indiana went from No. 18 in my ballot right after losing to Iowa and Northwestern this week. Injuries caused a major setback for IU with a pair of starters (guard Xavier Johnson and forward Race Thompson) both suspended indefinitely.

New Mexico’s good 14-0 start was quickly shattered with losses to Fresno State and UNLV last week. The rest of Lobos’ biography wasn’t strong enough to withstand that and stay ranked.

CL Brown ballot

Rk. Team
1. Houston
2. Alabama
3. Tennessee
4. Kansas
5. Bordeaux
6. UConn
7. University of California
8. Arizona
9. Gonzaga
10. Texas
11. Virginia
12. Xavier

13. Kansas State

14. Iowa
15. Miami
16. TCU
17. Providence
18. Wisconsin
19. Market
20. Arkansas
21. Missouri

22. San Diego Boulevard

23. Charleston
24. Baylor
25. duke

This story was originally published Jan 9, 2023 9:57 AM.

Profile photo of C.L. Brown

CL Brown covers the University of North Carolina News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience including stints as a successful writer at Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stay at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he picked up an APSE award, he stopped at, The Athletic and even tried running his own website,

Leave a Comment