MIAMI, FL — Four of the Top 5 teams in the AP college basketball rankings fell last week, which opens the door for Villanova to return to the No. 1 slot on Monday.
Michigan State, Duke, Arizona State and Xavier all lost a game last week and are expected to slip in the next poll.
Michigan State Expected To Slide
No. 1 Michigan State fell 80-64 to the “over-achieving” Ohio State on Sunday, with Keita Bates-Diop scoring a career-high 32 points and added seven rebounds and three steals to lead the Buckeyes (13-4, 4-0 Big Ten), who stayed undefeated in conference play.
Joshua Langford and Miles Bridges each scored 17 points for the Spartans (15-2, 3-1), who were losing for the first time since the seven-point loss to then-No. 1 Duke on Nov. 14.
Preseason No. 1 Duke also was topped 96-85 by North Carolina State on Saturday, which means the Blue Devils missed an opportunity to go back to the top of the poll this week.
Villanova Set To Move Back To Top
Defeats to Michigan State and Duke unlocked the door for Villanova to go back to the top of the rankings when it is released in Week 10 on Monday.
The No. 3 ranked Wildcats (14-1, 2-1 Big East) rebounded from their first defeat of the season to Butler by holding off Marquette 100-90 on Saturday night to earn the right to rule the nation again.
The Cats replaced Duke and spent three weeks a the top of the AP college basketball rankings.
Virginia and West Virginia Are Other Strong Candidates For No. 1
Even though Villanova is the leading candidate for the pole position, Virginia and West Virginia are notable front-runners to take over as well.
No. 8 Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) established themselves as a possible No. 1 team by stifling defending champion North Carolina in a 61-49 victory on Saturday for its sixth win in a row.
Meanwhile, No. 6 West Virginia is also in the conversation for the top rank spot after beating the inform No. 7 Oklahoma 89-76 over the weekend.
The Mountaineers (14-1, 3-0 Big 12), interestingly owns a head-to-head victory over Virginia, having beaten the Cavaliers earlier this season.
Possible Candidates Who Also Fell
No. 5 Xavier fell 81-72 at Providence to ruin its chance of being No. 1 this week, while No. 4 Arizona State split its fixtures last week to hurt its opportunity as well.
Meanwhile, North Carolina is set to drop even further down the pecking order after the defending national champion dropped both games last week.
The No. 12 Tar Heels (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost at home 81-80 to Florida State and then 61-49 at Virginia.
Florida State and Arkansas are both set to leave the AP college basketball rankings this week.