Advertisement

Ballot breakdown | Major shakeup after another week of upsets

Jan. 29—Sign up for our daily Illini basketball newsletter here

Illinois beat writer Scott Richey is in his ninth season as an AP Top 25 voter. Here's how his ballot shook out this week:

1. Connecticut 1

2. Purdue 2

3. North Carolina 3

4. Houston 4

5. Tennessee 6

6. Wisconsin 14

7. Marquette 13

8. New Mexico 15

9. Utah State 16

10. Arizona 8

11. Creighton 19

12. Duke 21

13. Iowa State NR

14. Kansas 7

15. Kentucky 5

16. Texas Tech NR

17. Dayton 10

18. Illinois 11

19. Brigham Young 17

20. South Carolina NR

21. Alabama NR

22. Auburn 9

23. Texas Christian NR

24. Baylor 18

25. Indiana State NR

Who's up

Take your pick in a week where just the four teams at the top of our ballot held steady and six teams made their season debut. South Carolina snagged one of those six spots after a 2-0 week that included a 17-point thrashing of Kentucky and a second win against Missouri in a two-week span. The Gamecocks won't wow you with their place among the advanced metrics, but they're 6-2 in the first two quadrants and have just one "bad" loss to a Georgia team that's currently just on the wrong side of the Quad II/Quad III border. A pair of transfers — Ta'Lon Cooper (Minnesota) and B.J. Mack (Wofford) — have teamed up with former Ohio State guard Meechie Johnson to give Lamont Paris an NCAA tournament-caliber team (so far) in his second season as coach.

Who's down

Bill Self apparently looked at the unbalanced schedule in the Big 12 this week and came to the conclusion that chasing a conference title doesn't mean as much as it used to when the league slate was a true round robin. The Kansas coach said as much after his team lost to Iowa State to slip into a tie for fourth in the Big 12 standings. The Jayhawks, who have won at least a share of 17 conference titles under Self, have lost three of their last six games with what might be the thinnest roster in his time in Lawrence, Kan. Four starters are playing at least 32 minutes per game, and Kansas got a grand total of four points off the bench in two games last week. Five-star freshman Elmarko Jackson went scoreless and took zero shots in the loss to Iowa State.

Who to watch

Tuesday shapes up to be a multiple-screen type of night. The early slate includes South Carolina at Tennessee (5:30 p.m., SECN), Illinois playing at Ohio State (6 p.m., Peacock), Marquette heading to Philadelphia to face a Villanova team in desperate need of a win (6 p.m., FS1) and TCU hosting Texas Tech in a top four Big 12 battle (6 p.m., ESPN2). Wednesday keeps a good first half of the week going, but its best games won't tax your remote control abilities. The night starts with Northwestern going for the sweep of Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. (5:30 p.m., BTN) before a solid SEC showdown with Kentucky hosting Florida (7 p.m, ESPN) and a nightcap between Boise State and New Mexico at The Pit (9:30 p.m., FS1) — where the Lobos appear unstoppable.