Big Ten co-champ and tournament No. 1 seed Illinois? Up to No. 12 on my ballot — four spots higher than Monday’s new AP Top 25 poll has the Illini, who still are behind both Purdue and co-champ Wisconsin.
Missouri Valley tournament champ Loyola? Still unranked, but when has something as trivial as that stopped the Ramblers before?
It’s hard to know how important the weekly AP poll is to most fans throughout the season, but we can safely assume no one will be paying much attention to it from here. It’s all about the NCAA selection committee now. Selection Sunday is six days away. Time to start digging under your mattresses for pool money.
By the way, will Illinois and Loyola be in the same region again as they were a year ago? Would the committee dare line them up to meet again before the Sweet 16? ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Illini as the 4 seed in the East and the Ramblers as the 11 in the Midwest. CBS’ Jerry Palm has the Illini as the 3 in the Midwest and the Ramblers as the 11 in the West.
Lunardi has the Ramblers lined up to face Purdue in the second round. Palm has them lined up to meet Wisconsin. Either way, sounds like a heck of a good time.
I’m heading to Indianapolis this week for the Big Ten’s postseason shindig, where no fewer than seven teams — Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan — are capable of cutting down the nets. No, not necessarily in that order. Yes, I purposely left out No. 4 Rutgers. Reflex, maybe.
To the new poll:
AP Top 25
1. Gonzaga, 2. Arizona, 3. Baylor, 4. Auburn, 5. Kentucky, 6. Kansas, 7. Duke, 8. Villanova, T9. Purdue, T9. Tennessee, 11. Providence, 12. Wisconsin, 13. UCLA, 14. Texas Tech, 15. Arkansas, 16. Illinois, 17. Saint Mary’s, 18. Houston, 19. Murray State, 20. Connecticut, 21. USC, 22. Texas, 23. Colorado State, 24. Iowa, 25. North Carolina.
(Click here to see the poll in more complete list form.)
1. Arizona, 2. Gonzaga, 3. Kentucky, 4. Auburn, 5. Baylor, 6. Duke, 7. Kansas, 8. Providence, 9. Tennessee, 10. Purdue, 11. Villanova, 12. Illinois, 13. Texas Tech, 14. Wisconsin, 15. UCLA, 16. Arkansas, 17. Houston, 18. Iowa, 19. Connecticut, 20. USC, 21. Saint Mary’s, 22. Texas, 23. Murray State, 24. Colorado State, 25. North Carolina.
(Click here and then on “all voters” to see each voter’s individual ballot.)
• While the Zags sat around on their rear ends for the last week, Arizona went 3-0 to run away with the Pac-12 regular-season title. That 20-point win at USC was a real eye-popper. I put the Wildcats at No. 1 this time and shan’t apologize for it.
• That’s right, I just used “shan’t.” Kind of like, I shan’t be surprised when Arizona fails to win the national title since the Pac-12 hasn’t won one of those since 1997. Or, I shan’t flip-flop Villanova and Providence on my new ballot (it’s too late) but I kind of wish I could. Or, I shan’t get to Indy in time for Northwestern’s opening game on Wednesday. Will the Purple still be there when I arrive the next day?
• Iowa is coming off a two-point loss at Illinois, but I moved the Hawkeyes up on my ballot. They were better than Illini on Sunday, not counting their descent into madness at the foul line. I could go 10-for-22 from the foul line like they did. At least I think I could. All right, so I’m beginning to doubt myself. But you definitely could. Have you been working out? Look at you, you magnificent sonofagun.
• My ballot crashers this week: Colorado State and North Carolina. Keep an eye on the Tar Heels, winners of five straight — most recently at Duke in Mike Krzyzewsi’s home finale — and 11 of their last 13.
• Kicked to the curb (for now): Ohio State and Michigan State. Now watch one of these teams win the Big Ten tournament, right?