Two weeks into college basketball season, of the still-unbeaten teams, only one has yet to play a home game.
“Four games in you would probably have to fire the scheduling coach, which is me,” Tigers coach Mitch Henderson said after Saturday’s 25-point win at Monmouth. “Not this year.”
In addition to drilling Monmouth, which has won at West Virginia, Princeton handled Rutgers on a neutral court and triumphed at Duquesne (4-1) and at defending CAA champion Hofstra.
With five members back from the eight-man rotation that advanced to last March’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, plus that kind of resume, plus a group whose sublime execution passes the eye test with flying colors, the Tigers have earned a spot on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot.
In an age when the gap between high-major and mid-major programs is smaller than ever – witness San Diego State and Florida Atlantic in last year’s Final Four, and Saint Peter’s in the Elite Eight the year before that – it’s time for poll voters to stop scoffing at the conference affiliation (the Ivy League, with so much experience and continuity, is very good this year) and open their eyes. Princeton guards Matt Allocco and Xaivian Lee and forward Caden Pierce would be impact players on just about any team in the country. And if winning on the road in this sport was easy, more teams would do it.
Here is my ballot, plus more analysis:
- Kansas (3-0)
- Arizona (5-0)
- Purdue (3-0)
- Marquette (3-0)
- UConn (4-0)
- Houston (6-0)
- Tennessee (3-0)
- Creighton (4-0)
- Duke (3-1)
- Gonzaga (2-0)
- Miami (5-0)
- Texas A&M (4-0)
- Baylor (4-0)
- Texas (4-0)
- North Carolina (3-0)
- James Madison (4-0)
- BYU (4-0)
- Kentucky (3-1)
- Michigan St. (3-2)
- San Diego State (4-1)
- FAU (2-1)
- Arkansas (3-1)
- Southern Cal (3-1)
- Alabama (4-0)
- Princeton (4-0)
Dropped out: No. 21 Villanova (3-1) for a loss to Penn; No. 23 Illinois (4-1), which didn’t make my ballot last week but is being considered; No. 25 Colorado (3-0), which didn’t make my ballot last week but his being considered.
Entered: BYU, which has beaten San Diego State, at No. 17; San Diego State, which beat Saint Mary’s and Washington on neutral courts this past weekend, at No. 20; Princeton, which has four wins away from home, including three road wins, at No. 25.
Also considered: Virginia (4-0), Iowa State (4-0), Memphis (3-0), Mississippi State (5-0).
Analysis: Last week I voted Arizona No. 1 after its win at Duke. This week I move Kansas into the top spot for two reasons. First, the Jayhawks notched a quality neutral-court win against Kentucky. Second, when in doubt, I try to respect the poll’s consensus, and the Jayhawks w
Analysis: Last week I voted Arizona No. 1 after its win at Duke. This week I move Kansas into the top spot for two reasons. First, the Jayhawks notched a quality neutral-court win against Kentucky. Second, when in doubt, I try to respect the poll’s consensus, and the Jayhawks were No. 1 last week.
The toughest call of this week’s ballot is how much to punish FAU for its shocking loss to Bryant. Weird stuff happens in this sport, so I try to not over-punish for one bizarre result, and I don’t remember ever dropping a top-10 team out over one loss, so I left FAU in at No. 21.
In that same spirit Arkansas and USC also suffered upsets, but both to opponents ranked in Kenpom’s top 100 (and USC was down two key players who have since returned), so they remain on the ballot.
Yes Michigan State has two early losses, but both to teams in the Top 25, so Sparty remains in.
By conference: Big 12 (5), SEC (5), ACC (3), Big East (3), Big Ten (2), Pac-12 (2), American (1), West Coast (1), Ivy (1), Sun Belt (1), Mountain West (1).
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at email@example.com.