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Ballot breakdown | A new No. 1

Jan. 15—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 4

2. Purdue 1

3. North Carolina 6

4. Kansas 2

5. Houston 3

6. Baylor 14

7. Wisconsin 15

8. Memphis 13

9. Kentucky 5

10. Tennessee 7

11. Arizona 8

12. Auburn 16

13. Dayton 19

14. Illinois 12

15. Oklahoma 9

16. Marquette 10

17. Utah State 20

18. Seton Hall 25

19. Boise State NR

20. Brigham Young 17

21. Duke NR

22. Colorado State 11

23. San Diego State 18

24. Mississippi 22

25. Nevada 21

Who's up

Odds are the reigning NCAA champions will be the new No. 1 team in the country come early Monday afternoon. It will be the first time UConn reached the peak of the AP Top 25 this season after ripping its way through last year's NCAA tournament field en route to the program's fifth national title. The Huskies went 2-0 last week — beating Xavier and Georgetown. In most scenarios, that wouldn't be enough to secure the top spot in the poll, but the fact Purdue, Houston and Kansas all lost at least once (more on the Cougars in a bit) paved the way for Dan Hurley and Co. to be the new No. 1 on our ballot. All UConn had to do Sunday was not lose to Georgetown, and it cleared that very low bar.

Who's down

Houston was the last unbeaten team in the country heading into last week, but they never moved to the top of the AP Top 25 despite claiming a similar position in several advanced metrics. The one thing holding the Cougars back was their strength of schedule. They picked up three legitimate neutral site wins against Utah, Dayton and Texas A&M in nonconference play, but the bulk of their non-Big 12 games were of the Quad IV variety. So was their first foray into their new conference. Manhandling West Virginia at home didn't mean much. Life on the road in the Big 12 proved a little tougher last week. Houston lost by four at Iowa State and one at TCU and probably can't wait to be back at home Wednesday against Texas Tech.

Who to watch

The rash of upsets in the last week could continue, and Tuesday's slate of games could have several. Indiana coach Mike Woodson picked a good time to shift strategies — benching Xavier Johnson and scrapping his "second unit" idea — as the Hoosiers enter their showdown with rivals Purdue (6 p.m., Peacock) in Bloomington, Ind., coming off a nice win against Minnesota. Baylor also faces a tricky matchup at Kansas State (7 p.m., ESPN+), while the intriguing Big 12 slate also includes BYU hosting Iowa State (8 p.m., ESPN+). And the Mountain West Conference remains must-see TV with Utah State headed to The Pit to face New Mexico (9:30 p.m., FS1).