|Last week's ballot|
Dropped Out: Illinois (#24).
1-5: Essentially an unchanged version of last week's top 6, minus a certain mediagenic team that hasn't played a good game in ... let's see ... almost three weeks. Tar Heels get the bump over Pitt via the emphatic road win over that same certain team.
6-12: The question is: how far do you want to drop the ACC Duke-Clemson-Wake triumvirate, all three of which dropped ugly decisions this week and all three of which have looked generally mediocre for the past two weeks--Duke's been a train wreck, Wake's lost three of five, Clemson two of three. So behind Big 10-leading Michigan St., the Kansas-Missouri pair, and steady Louisville they go. (I realize Wake and Clemson have actually moved up from last week's ballot, but that's due solely to Duke and UCLA slipping behind them. And I hate it. I should probably move 'Nova in front of them.)
13-17: Arizona St.'s the big mover in this week's poll as their home win over UCLA and ownership of the best Kenpom and BBState rating in the Pac-10 lands them a notch behind Villanova. Xavier holds steady despite the loss to Dayton, since a) that game meant a lot more to the Flyers than it did to X b) they should have been ranked higher last week with their nonconference profile. UCLA's better than this, but there's only so high you can rank a team that just got swept on its trip to Arizona. Still like them better than Washington, though.
18-22: Honestly, I want to drop Marquette further than this; their 10-2 Big East record comes without a game against UConn, Louisville, or Pitt, and the one away game against serious competition was last week's 18-point blowout at 'Nova. Their best nonconference win is a three-point home victory against Wisconsin. But oh well, I guess 21-4 in the Big East is 21-4 in the Big East. Still, I'm predicting a loss at Georgetown this Saturday and a spot next week behind Utah (now the clear leader in the MWC), LSU (unquestionably the best team in the SEC, though their 30-point loss to the Utes says something about how much that's really worth this season) and maybe a few other teams. And oh: yeah, Butler losing to Loyola at home was pretty inexplicable. But they're still Butler.)
23-25: Mid-majors ho! Dayton entering the poll after their Xavier win was a no-brainer. The tougher call was figuring out what to do with Davidson now that Curry might be on the shelf for a couple of weeks. I figure I'll cross that bridge when we get there. And as for Utah St., a road loss to the second-best team in their league's hardly cause for too much concern.
Waiting list: I can't yet sneak a team with 8 losses into the poll, but holy hell, have you seen West Virginia's Big East schedule? Their conference losses are as follows: vs. UConn, @Marquette, vs. Pitt, @Louisville, @Syracuse, @Pitt. They've played two home games against the BE's upper crust, against Providence and Villanova: they won by a combined 48 points. No. 6 is still mindblogglingly high, but there's still reason to think Kenpom's not too far off on this team.