Time to send my next-to-last ballot in to The Associated Press.
I kicked out Syracuse after it followed a win over DePaul with a woeful loss to Georgetown. The Orange is just not playing like a Top 25 team right now, so I’m going to leave them out this week and then we’ll see if they beat someone good in the Big East tourney to earn their way back in. They have lost four of their last five games, and while those losses – Georgetown and Louisville at home, Marquette and Georgetown on the road — were to the Big East tri-champ, shouldn’t SU be able to beat one of them? And they also lost at UConn last month.
I also booted UNLV after its home loss to Fresno.
I also evicted La. Tech after its 0-2 week. I finally put La Tech on my ballot and they kick their spot away.
I also kicked out Cal after its home loss to Stanford.
Here is the ballot:
1. Gonzaga stays here after beating Loyola Marymount in the WCC semis. Next: good game with Saint Mary’s in the WCC final Monday.
2. Duke moves up 2 spots after beating the Hokies and UNC. Next: Maryland or Wake in the ACC quarterfinals Friday.
3. Louisville moves up 5 spots after beating Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Cards have won 7 in a row. Next: Villanova or St. John’s in Big East quarterfinals.
4. Georgetown falls 2 spots after losing at Villanova and beating Syracuse. Next: Providence or Cincinnati in Big East quarterfinals.
5. Ohio State moves up seven spots after winning at Indiana and beating Illinois. OSU has won 5 straight, including a win over Mich. St. and the win over Indiana. So I am putting OSU ahead of both those teams. Yes, Indiana won the Big Ten regular season title, but if we can all rank Duke over ACC regular season champ Miami, then I can also rank a hot OSU team over the Hoosiers this week. Next: Purdue or Nebraska in Big Ten quarterfinals.
6. Indiana falls one spot after losing at home to Indiana and winning at Michigan. Next: Illinois or Minn. in Big Ten quarterfinals.
7. Mich. St. moves up 4 spots after beating Wisconsin and Northwestern. Next: Bowa or Northwestern in Big Ten quarterfinals.
8. Marquette moves up 2 spots after beating Rutgers and St. John’s. Next: Rutgers, DePaul or Notre Dame in Big East quarterfinals.
9. Kansas falls six spots after beating Texas Tech and losing at Baylor. Next: WVU or Texas Tech in Big 12 quarterfinals.
10. Michigan falls one spot after beating Purdue and losing to Indiana. Next: Penn St. in first round of Big Ten tournament.
11. Miami falls four spots after losing at home to Ga. Tech and beating Clemson. Next: BC or Ga. Tech in ACC quarterfinals Friday.
12. New Mexico falls six spots after beating Nevada and losing to Air Force. Next: Wyoming or Nevada in Mountain West quarterfinals.
13. Oklahoma St. moves up 2 spots after losing at Iowa St. and beating Kansas St. Don’t usually move up a team after a loss, but Okla State bounced back with that good win over K-State. K-State did tie for the Big 12 regular season title, but Okla. State just beat K-State and of course they swept Kansas, so I think Okla St. seems like the No. 13 team. Next: Baylor in Big 12 quarterfinals.
14. Kansas State falls one spot after beating TCU and losing at Oklahoma St. Next: Texas or TCU in Big 12 quarterfinals.
15. St. Louis falls one spot after losing to Xavier in OT and beating La Salle. Next: Richmond or Charlotte in A-10 quarterfinals.
16. Florida stays here after beating Vandy and losing at Kentucky. Next: Georgia or LSU in SEC quarterfinals.
17. Saint Mary’s moves up 3 spots after beating San Diego in OT in the WCC semis. Next: big game with Gonzaga in the WCC final Mon.
18. Creighton returns to my ballot here after beating Drake, Indiana State and Wichita St to win the Missouri Valley Conf. tournament. This comes on the heels of beating Wichita St to win the Missouri Valley regular season title. Creighton has won 5 straight since losing at Saint Mary’s, so they deserve to be back on the ballot after sweeping the conf. regular season and tourney titles.
19. VCU falls 2 spots after beating Richmond and losing at Temple. Next: Xavier or St. Joe’s in A-10 quarterfinals.
20. UCLA falls one spot after losing at Wash. State and beating Washington. That was a bad loss to lowly Wash. State, but UCLA stays on the ballot because it has won the Pac 12 regular season title. Next: Stanford or Arizona State in Pac-12 quarterfinals.
21. Notre Dame stays here after beating St. John’s and losing at Louisville. Next: Big East tournament.
22. Pitt returns to my ballot here after beating DePaul. I am not putting Pitt back on because of that win, but because of Pitt’s body of work as the fourth place team in the Big East. Pitt has won 4 straight and 7 of its last 9. But it recently lost to Notre Dame, so they go behind the Irish on my ballot. Next: Seton Hall, South Fla. or Syracuse in Big East quarterfinals.
23. Wisconsin falls one spot after scoring just 43 points in a loss to Michigan State and beating Penn State on a buzzer beater. Wisconsin not playing well going into the Big Ten tournament, especially considering that recent home loss to Purdue. Next: Michigan or Penn St. in Big Ten quarterfinals.
24. Colorado State returns to my ballot here after beating Wyoming and Nevada to claim sole possession of second place in the Mountain West. Next: Fresno St. in Mountain West quarterfinals.
25. For this last spot, I thought about keeping Syracuse on my ballot but want to see them bounce back in the Big East tourney before I do. I looked at Belmont, which won the OVC tourney. I looked hard at putting Memphis and Arizona back on the ballot, but I want to see how they do in their conference tournaments before I put them back on my ballot.
So in the end, I decided to have Villanova crack my ballot here after its big win over Georgetown. Villanova is 19-12 and went 10-8 in Big East play, including Feb. wins over Georgetown and Marquette, a Feb. road win over UConn and Jan. wins over Syracuse and Louisville. That body of work, including 4 wins in their last six games, puts the Wildcats on my ballot instead of Syracuse. Villanova beat Marquette and Georgetown at home in recent weeks, whereas Syracuse lost at home to Louisville and Georgetown in recent weeks. Next: St. John’s in Big East second round at the Garden. Will Villanova still be on my ballot next week?