A new year has come and a new season has arrived. College hoops have officially moved from non-conference play (filled with easy-to-purchase games, exciting challenges, and tournaments in casinos and tropical locations) to conference play. Conference play requires teams to travel through extreme cold and attempt to win the game in a hostile cauldron. So hiding isn’t always smooth sailing for everyone either. In front of you is a frigid and choppy sea.
So this might be the last time all season that I can say my vote didn’t move much. So, for the first time in 2023, on Sunday night he presents the correct order of the top 25 men’s college basketball teams as submitted to the Associated Press.
Seth Davis’ Top 25 for Monday, January 2nd
Dropped out: North Carolina (16), Kentucky (19), Memphis (21)
Most Famous: Auburn, Florida Atlantic, Illinois, Missouri, Providence, St. Mary’s, Utah
• Those who watch my rankings closely (and who know who they are) consider much more than just whether the team won or lost the previous week’s game. I understand that It emphasized who played it, how it was played, and most importantly, where it was played. We all know it’s really, really hard to win on the road. Conversely, this means that the top 25 teams must win at home. Especially when playing against teams that are ranked lower or not ranked at all.
Among the top five last Saturday, there were three results to consider: UConn’s 83-73 loss at Xavier, Kansas’ 69-67 home victory over Oklahoma State, and Arizona’s 69. Winning Arizona State at -60. He was looking to leave UConn in second place because there is no shame in losing to a better team on the road and the Huskies were arguably the best team in the country this season. But because Arizona’s win was decisive, I was forced to put Arizona up a few. Arizona also had a win over Indiana on neutral courts in December, a win over Tennessee at home, and an 81-66 loss in Utah on December 1 shoved deep into the rearview mirror. You can have bad games. That defeat was inflicted on the meeting opponent on the way.
When it comes to Kansas, I don’t generally believe in punishing a team after a win, but the Jayhawks were playing an unranked team from Oklahoma at home. Either way, he doesn’t consider moving the team one slot down as a big punishment, but my decision to jump over Arizona dropped the Jayhawks.
Bill Self’s skillful coaching moves lead Kansas to another come-from-behind victory
• I think there is still some confusion as to why I put Houston in 8th place when the Cougars were 3rd in last week’s AP poll and 1st in NET, KenPom and BartTorvik. The answer is in your resume. Houston’s best win was Virginia. A great road win is no doubt, but Virginia also lost their next game in Miami. Other than that, Houston’s best win was in Fort Worth against unranked St. Mary’s. He also has several wins against unranked teams that were uncomfortably close on Saturday, including his 71-65 home victory over UCF. It’s worth noting that Houston is his 7th in Kevin Pauga’s KPI rankings. This is based on results only, while other metrics are for forecasting purposes. There are also some direct consequences to consider. Houston lost at home to Alabama, so shouldn’t the Cougars rank behind the Crimson Tide? Alabama lost to Gonzaga in Birmingham later that week. Given that Houston is by far the best team in the conference, I expect this team to keep winning and move up in the rankings accordingly, but that’s how I see the Cougars at their current position. That’s why I’m putting it in. Metrics are useful, but they’re not gospel.
• To expand on my metric case, let’s take a look at some teams whose rankings seem to be far off, for better or worse. Who would argue that Miami doesn’t deserve the rankings?The Hurricanes are 33rd in NET, 37th in KenPom and 50th in BartTorvik. Still, he is ninth in KPIs. It shouldn’t rank so highly, but in this case the KPI is much closer to being accurate.
Then there are two teams that don’t like metrics. Wisconsin (44 NET, 42 KenPom, 49 BartTorvik) and Providence (57 NET, 44 KenPom, 58 BartTorvik). The KPI is now split. Wisconsin has 12 and Providence has 64. This is all because the metric doesn’t like teams that win a lot of close matches. Still, when they count their standings and quad records, 1 win counts as much as 100 wins. The Huskies won’t feel good, but they rarely play against top-five teams on their home courts.
Conversely, the Mountaineers’ best win was in Pittsburgh, and despite just losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 opener, the metrics were ahead of West Virginia (13 NET, 20 KenPom, 13 BartTorvik, 25 KPI). is hit by Auburn also has strong metrics, and while the Tigers’ resume is very so-so, he continues to rank in the AP Top 25. Their best win was on a neutral court against the Northwest, with a loss to Memphis (Neutral) and He USC (Road) in December.
• Of course, the biggest winner of the week was Xavier. It was a stunning win for the Musketeers on Saturday under immense pressure. The two things about him that stood out to me were that he had 15 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists while Jack Nanji battled the virus. Most people don’t want to get out of bed when they’re sick, much less play a high-level basketball game. It was a contribution from the bench by 6-7 senior forward Jerome Hunter.Xavier are a very good offensive team, but so-so defensively. Hunter gives this team the toughness it needs at the end of the floor. It will be a very valuable piece during the time of the dog in February.
• I have favored North Carolina and Kentucky more than any other voter, but after losses to Pitt and Missouri respectively, those teams made it easy for me to drop them. Speaking of Missouri, I took a hard look at the Tigers, including not only their win over Kentucky, but the Braggin’ Lights beating Illinois in his game. Frankly, I’m not sure how good these teams are. Also, the Tigers have such a questionable non-meeting schedule that they decided to wait a little longer before putting a number next to their name.
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• Memphis’ loss at Tulane on Sunday opened up another spot. Over the past few weeks I’ve had a hard time getting Clayton — even giving the Jays the coveted buy-plus rating in the annual Hoop Thoughts Stock Report — so much so that it’s hard to beat Butler. gave them the final place, even though it didn’t take them long to finish. DePaul at home. My point is, the reason Clayton plummeted so badly was because Ryan Kalkbrenner was out, but now that he’s back, expect them to surge again. Hall, UConn on tour, followed by Xavier (tour) and Providence (home) next week. I will soon find out if my trust in this team is justified.
(Top photo of Xavier’s Colby Jones: Dylan Buell/Getty Images)