Good Morning, Illini Nation: Diving deep on latest AP Top 25

Jan. 9—Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team and college basketball at large:

Illinois earned a spot on all 63 Associated Press Top 25 ballots for just the second time this season following a split week that saw the Illini run Northwestern off the court and nearly face the same fate at Purdue before a late rally turned a burgeoning blowout into a five-point loss.

That consensus ranking, though, came with a one-spot drop in the latest AP poll with both Arizona and Oklahoma surmounting now No. 10 Illinois. The Illini got an assist to stay in the top 10 with Seton Hall knocking off Marquette, which sent the Golden Eagles to No. 11.

Where to rank Illinois remains far from a consensus. The Illini received one vote as high as No. 5 from CBS Sports/Messenger's Seth Davis and at least one vote at 13 other spots down the ballot. Thirteen voters had Illinois at 11th, and the lowest mark was a single vote at No. 20 from the New Haven (Conn.) Register's Dave Borges.

Illinois' consensus ranking meant giving up its spot as the highest-ranked team that didn't appear on every single ballot. That honor now goes to No. 11 Duke, which was not included on a pair of ballots. Mine and the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette's Dylan Sinn. The Blue Devils do have wins against Michigan State and Baylor, but losses to Arkansas and Georgia Tech — even on the road — are an anchor for Jon Scheyer's second Duke team.

Duke was one of five teams, including Creighton, Gonzaga, Florida Atlantic Texas, that were ultimately ranked this week but did not appear on my ballot. I could see an argument for ranking all but the Longhorns. Texas is 11-3, ranks 60th in the NET, lost by 11 at home Saturday against Texas Tech and boasts 9-5 LSU as its best win.

How did the Longhorns, one, get a vote as high as No. 11 from Spectrum News (N.C.) voter JB Ricks and, two, hold on at No. 25? Just four of the 25 voters who included Texas on their ballot also had Texas Tech. Three ranked the Red Raiders higher. One, the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald's Brice Cherry had the Longhorns ranked six spots higher.

Texas Tech might only have one notable win this season. But it was by double digits against Texas. On the Longhorns' home court, no less. What are we doing?

It at least makes me feel more comfortable with a ballot that includes six "extreme picks" that ranks teams either five or more spots higher or lower than they appeared on the final poll. I'm higher on Colorado State, Dayton, Mississippi (for now), Wake Forest and Seton Hall than my voting colleagues.