The big tumbler for me this week was Louisville, which dropped from No. 4 to No. 11. That was a combination of weighing the Cardinals’ loss to West Virginia and strong performances from the teams ranked 5-10 last week (with the exception of Texas A&M.)
The biggest movers were Texas and Virginia, which each climbed four spots. The Longhorns definitely made some noise with wins in their last three games, against Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. But you may be wondering why Virginia climbed in a week in which it lost to Duke.
I don’t have air-tight reasoning here; this was a “feel” decision, in part. Mostly, it’s because falling to the Blue Devils doesn’t count harshly against the Cavaliers in my mind. Ohio State’s and Vanderbilt’s losses to unranked teams (Michigan State and Mississippi State) got them a little more poll punishment – although you could make the argument that I’m underestimating the Spartans and the Bulldogs somewhat.
(Just FYI … it’s kind of funny to me how much I end up second-guessing my ballot when I blog here after I’ve already second-guessed it a lot before sending it in to the Associate Press sports desk. It’s just the nature of voting, I think.)
Anyway, Mississippi State is a team that sort of intrigues me – having almost gotten its first win ever against Tennessee on Jan. 15, and beating Kentucky, LSU and Vandy since. However, MSU also has lost to Georgia and Arkansas.
As for Tennessee, it’s really beyond weird to have the Vols ranked No. 16. Their only game this week is at home against Alabama, and that’s very unfortunate timing for the Tide.
In regard to Notre Dame, I’m not at all sure if this is the correct ranking for the Irish. With the injuries, they’ve been a hard team to gauge.
Team on my poll radar: Utah, which has won 12 in a row since its last loss, to the aforementioned Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Utes lead the Mountain West at 9-0, but have three of their next four games on the road.
Feb. 8 ballot
1.Connecticut, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Auburn, 4. Duke, 5. Cal, 6. Baylor, 7. Stanford, 8. Maryland, 9. North Carolina, 10. Florida, 11. Louisville, 12. Texas A&M, 13. Florida State, 14. Texas, 15. Virginia, 16. Tennessee, 17. Kansas State, 18. Iowa State, 19. Pittsburgh, 20. Ohio State, 21. Vanderbilt, 22. Notre Dame, 23. South Dakota State, 24. Xavier, 25. DePaul