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Jayhawks jump back into top spot in AP Top 25

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Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) turns to the bucket after catching the ball in the paint while defended by New Mexico State forward Johnny McCants (35) during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) turns to the bucket after catching the ball in the paint while defended by New Mexico State forward Johnny McCants (35) during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

With no team positioned to jump them into the top spot during the past seven days, the Kansas men’s basketball team returned to the No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday.

The Jayhawks, winners of eight in a row to open the 2018-19 season, received 57 of the 65 first-place votes, with Duke (4), Tennessee (1), Gonzaga (1), Michigan (1) and Virginia (1) all receiving the eight remaining first-place votes while claiming spots 2 through 6 in this week’s poll.

Unbeaten Nevada, Auburn (8-1), Michigan State (8-2) and Florida State (8-1) round out the Top 10.

Kansas, which survived a scare from New Mexico State at Sprint Center on Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., climbed back into the No. 1 spot thanks to Gonzaga’s loss to Tennessee.

The Volunteers, which sit at 7-1 and opened the season ranked No. 6, are likely an overtime loss to KU from sitting in the top spot themselves.

KU (8-0), Virginia (9-0) and Nevada (7-0) are the only teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 10 that have yet to suffer a loss this season. Michigan, at 10-0, also is unbeaten and rolling, but the Wolverines did not open the season in the Top 10, instead starting at No. 19.

The Jayhawks, who opened the season as the AP’s preseason No. 1, have not fallen below second this season but were jumped in Week 1 by Duke, which drubbed Kentucky to open the season, and jumped again by Gonzaga in Week 4 after the Zags knocked off Duke at the Maui Invitational.

The Jayhawks currently have two Top 10 wins already this season, three victories against teams currently ranked in the Top 25 and will get a chance for two more — No. 17 Villanova (8-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday morning at Allen Fieldhouse in a highly anticipated rematch of last year’s Final Four matchup and at No. 20 Arizona State on Dec. 22 — in the next two weeks.

While Self and his players generally don't put too much into the polls at this time of year, that figures to be extra true this week, with Kansas having a week between games and closing in on first-semester finals.

“Academics is the priority this week," Self said after the NMSU victory last Saturday. We’ll practice Monday through Friday even though it may be short and limited. We’re not going to get any better this week but hopefully we can maintain, just because of the limited practice time and guys’ minds won’t be there like it would be if it wasn’t Finals week. Hopefully we can maintain and play as competitive (of a) game as we will all year on Saturday.”

Here’s a look at this week’s complete poll:

AP Top 25

1 – Kansas, 8-0 (57)

2 – Duke, 9-1 (4)

3 – Tennessee, 7-1 (1)

4 – Gonzaga, 9-1 (1)

5 – Michigan, 10-0 (1)

6 – Virginia, 9-0 (1)

7 – Nevada, 10-0

8 – Auburn, 8-1

9 – Michigan State, 8-2

10 – Florida State, 8-1

11 – Texas Tech, 8-0

12 – North Carolina, 7-2

13 – Virginia Tech, 8-1

14 – Buffalo, 9-0

15 – Ohio State, 8-1

16 – Wisconsin, 8-2

17 – Villanova, 8-2

18 – Mississippi State, 8-1

19 – Kentucky, 7-2

20 – Arizona State, 7-1

21 – Marquette, 8-2

22 – Iowa, 7-2

23 – Furman, 10-0

24 – Houston, 8-0

25 – Syracuse, 7-2

Others receiving votes: Nebraska 115, Maryland 105, Oklahoma 82, Cincinnati 73, St. John's 57, Purdue 40, NC State 26, Iowa St. 19, TCU 13, San Francisco 5, UCLA 3, Minnesota 2, Butler 2, Davidson 1, Florida 1, NJIT 1, Seton Hall 1, Texas 1.

Comments

Tony Bandle 3 years, 11 months ago

Surprise, surprise!! Duke stayed at Number Two. I guess all the Duke voters got caught in the North Carolina snow storms. :}

Matt Tait 3 years, 11 months ago

Duke actually moved up a spot from No. 3 to No. 2... KU was No. 2 last week. And the Blue Devils got those 4 first-place votes because their only loss is to No. 4 Gonzaga. I was honestly surprised the Blue Devils didn't get a few more. Voters are clearly respecting how hard it is to win and how good Kansas has been at finding a way even without their best performance.

Steve Corder 3 years, 11 months ago

…"even without their best performance." Matt, how do you know that what has been on display is much closer to "their best" than one imagines?

Matt Tait 3 years, 11 months ago

Seeing all the mistakes Comments from Self and the players Watching them struggle with basic KU staples Etc. Etc. Etc.

I get what you're saying but this team has a ton of room to improve still. Doesn't mean they 100 percent will, but that would be the expectation.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

The fact that they have played WAY better at times (for a half in some games) indicates they are capable of way better than they have been playing. Another indication would be that KU always gets better as the season goes along. Last year at this time everyone was losing their mind saying it was the worst KU team in a decade, that KU would have double digit big 12 losses and be lucky to make the tournament, etc. Next thing you know they figure it out, win the conference (and conference tournament), and go to the final 4.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 11 months ago

We certainly don't look like a number one team. I thought Michigan would move up, they are beating teams pretty thoroughly. We just need more consistency out of Grimes, Vick and Dok back.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

They are looking like one of the best teams this year.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 11 months ago

If I had a vote I would put Michigan at number one. They destroyed Carolina, Villanova and Purdue. We are only ranked higher because of the pre-season poll.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 11 months ago

No, we are ranked higher because we have 3 wins against higher ranked teams than they do. Carolina is down this year, Nova is down this year, Purdue is ranked lower than Marquette, our third best win. We have two top ten wins already.

Joe Joseph 3 years, 11 months ago

K-State not even receiving votes! OUCH!

(lol)

Joe Ross 3 years, 11 months ago

The number 1 ranking underscores the adage that "Things are never as good or as bad as you think they are".

I've said this before with respect to not receiving the number 1 ranking in weeks gone by: Rankings don't matter at this point in the season. Records against competition actually DO. The latter is good news for Kansas, even if they don't pass the eye test as the number 1 team in the country.

...and they're NOT, despite the rankings.

Jonathan Allison 3 years, 11 months ago

The voters appreciate Kansas' 8-0 record with wins over Michigan State and Tennessee, combined with the talented roster and preseason #1 ranking, especially in the context of the other teams which have been ranked #1 this season all having losses.

If I were voting, I would probably have Kansas somewhere around #8 based on what I've seen from them thus far, combined with the expectation that they will eventually perform closer to the level that everyone has expected of them.

Blake Brown 3 years, 11 months ago

The worst #1 team in the history of polls. I know they go back Ws and Ls and who you play, but how you play has got to have something to do with it and we have been woeful to put it mildly. As much as I love the Hawks year in and year out, I`d vote them around #15.

If we don`t improve the offence, Villanova will outscore us just because they can score consistently shooting up 43 from 3 in the last game. At ASU is a real challenge.

Shocked at K-State out and NO votes. Their level of play has been almost as woeful as outs so far.
After posting this comment, I went to ESPN and found that KSU was tied for 25th in the AP poll and 24th in the Coaches poll.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 11 months ago

Nevada has been really a nice surprise these past few seasons. They play good and fun-to-watch basketball.

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