With the clock ticking and only three weeks left until March Madness, the road to the Final Four is becoming clearer by the day. In a week that featured the biggest upset of the year, the tournament favorites continued to prove themselves just as mortal as their lower-ranked opponents. Before the AP releases its updated poll today, here’s a look at how last week’s top-ranked teams fared over the week that followed.
For the fifth straight week, Villanova found itself at No. 1 in the AP Poll. After key conference wins against Creighton and Seton Hall, the Wildcats fell to St. John’s on Wednesday night. After losing 13 straight games, St. John’s has now knocked off both No. 9 Duke and Villanova. Bouncing back from their loss, the Wildcats were able to handle Butler 86-75 and emerge as the clear Big East favorite.
After another pair of conference wins, No. 2 Virginia stayed right behind the Wildcats for another week. Increasing their win streak to 15, the Cavaliers knocked off Syracuse and Florida State, thanks to their NCAA-leading defense. On Saturday, however, the Cavaliers dropped a home game to rival Virginia Tech, 60-61. Expect the Cavaliers to drop a few spots next week.
Parked behind the Wildcats and the Cavaliers are the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers, who maintained their previous spot in the rankings. But standing between Purdue and its hopes for a Big Ten title were a pair of conference matchups against No. 14 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan State. After a hard-fought loss to the Buckeyes, the Boilermakers fell to the Spartans, 65-68. After winning 19 in a row, Purdue has now lost two straight games and, subsequently, their control of the Big Ten.
Moving up one spot was No. 4 Michigan State. Despite their off-court controversies, the Spartans continued to drop Big Ten opponents like flies en route to their Big Ten showdown on Saturday. The Spartans, led by NBA-prospect Miles Bridges, have hit peak form with wins in 23 of their last 25 games. In a matchup against No. 3 Purdue, the Spartans were able to turn Miles Bridges’ 20 points, including a last-minute game-winner, into an exciting 68-65 win.
Debuting in the top five this week is No. 5 Xavier, who jumped up one spot. After a pair of Big East wins against St. John’s and Georgetown, the Musketeers faced a pair of road matchups at Butler and Creighton. Dispatching both the Bulldogs and the Bluejays by scores of 98-93 and 72-71, respectively, the Musketeers now await matchups against Seton Hall on Wednesday and Villanova on Saturday.
As a team that has slowly snuck into the one-seed conversation, Cincinnati moved up two spots to No. 6 last week. The Bearcats, after facing two ranked teams and losing both of those games, have rolled off 16 straight wins with six more wins likely to follow suit. As the unanimous AAC favorite, No. 6 Cincinnati will look to continue its domination with a pair of matchups against No. 22 Wichita State, the only ranked games still on the schedule.