College Basketball AP Top 25 Poll Reaction for Week 7

College Basketball AP Top 25 Poll Reaction for Week 7

The AP Top 25 poll throughout this season resembles a classic game of chutes and ladders. Four top teams have already been knocked out of the top spot with three of them losing to unranked teams.

This early in the year, it is extremely rare to have zero undefeated teams in the top 10. Per our data, dating back to the 2002-2003 season, at least one undefeated team made the AP top 10 every year.

As the shakeup at the top continues, here are four teams that saw their stock change significantly over the past week.

Kansas (1)

Kansas ascended to the top of the AP poll this week with a 9-1 overall record. Since their two-point, opening-night loss to Duke, the Jayhawks won nine straight games. In those wins, their average margin of victory is 23.5 points.

Sophomore guard Devon Dotson and senior center Udoka Azubuike are the focal point of the Jayhawk’s success thus far. Dotson is averaging a team-high 19.6 points per game and shooting 60.8% from 2-point range. His 4.8 assists per game lead the team. He has also improved his numbers on the defensive end. Through only 10 games, Dotson earned 22 steals. Last year, he finished the year with 49 steals in 36 games.

Azubuike played in only 9 games last season before a hand injury kept him out for the rest of the year. Now that he is healthy again, he is a frontcourt force for the Jayhawks. Azubuike is averaging 14.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. He leads the nation with an 82.6% effective field goal percentage.

This Saturday, Kansas faces a tough test against 18th-ranked Villanova. In what should be an extremely competitive game at the Wells Fargo Center, Kansas gets a chance to either keep the number one ranking or suffer the fifth loss by a number-one team this season.

Dayton (13)

The Dayton Flyers quickly climbed the AP Top 25, currently sitting at number 13 with an 8-1 overall record. Their only loss was a 90-84 overtime thriller against Kansas in the Maui Invitational finals.

One of the main reasons for Dayton’s rise this season is their offensive efficiency. Per KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency statistic, Dayton ranks sixth in the nation with 114.1 points per 100 possessions. The Flyers rank third in the country with 86.3 points per game, while holding opponents to an average of 67.3 points per game. They also lead the nation with a 62.9% effective field goal percentage, which is 3.4% higher than the next-closest team.

Sophomore Obi Toppin is one of the breakout stars of the year thus far and a large part of Dayton’s offensive success. Toppin is averaging 21.1 points per game and a 71.5% true shooting percentage. He also ranks inside the top 10 in player efficiency rating (7th) and effective field goal percentage (10th).

With no teams on their schedule currently ranked in their next eight games, the Flyers will look to build further momentum into conference play.

Penn State (23)

Penn State is ranked number 23 this week, which is their first appearance in the AP Top 25 since 1996. Last week, home wins over then fourth-ranked Maryland and Alabama vaulted the Nittany Lions into unfamiliar territory. Their two losses so far this season are a 2-point defeat against Ole Miss and an excusable road loss to Ohio State.

Coach Patrick Chambers’ squad has been tough on the defensive end of the floor this season with top-20 rankings in both steals and blocks. In their win over Maryland, Penn State forced 20 turnovers, 1 less than their season-high 21 against Georgetown. It was also the seventh time they caused 15 or more turnovers.

For context on their rankings achievement, only one player on the current roster was born prior to 1996. However, the past is irrelevant to this year’s team as they look to stay inside the rankings as Big Ten competition looms. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they’ll see relatively easy games against Central Connecticut State and Cornell before finishing the rest of the year against Big Ten opponents.

UNC (Unranked)

While Penn State is not accustomed to being ranked, the opposite is true for North Carolina. UNC was not included in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2014, ending the second-longest streak in the nation at 104 weeks. After starting the year 6-1, including wins over Notre Dame and Oregon, UNC dropped three straight games. A blowout home loss against Ohio State was followed by a 9-point defeat against Virginia.

While not ideal, these losses are at least understandable. However, Sunday’s home loss to Wofford dropped them from number 17 to out of the top 25 completely. The absence of point guard Cole Anthony was painfully evident in the Wofford game, and Anthony is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

The entire Tar Heel offense is struggling this season with some of the worst shooting percentages in the country. UNC is 320th in the nation in both field goal percentage (39.8%) and free throw percentage (63.2%). Outside shooting is also an issue, as they are averaging 28.7% from beyond-the-arc this season. The road won’t get any easier for UNC this week, as they face off against second-ranked Gonzaga in Spokane on Wednesday night.