How I voted in the college basketball AP poll: UCLA rises again

UCLA climbed four spots to No. 6 in Monday’s Associated Press men’s basketbal poll

UCLA hasn’t convinced the computers, but the humans are buying in again. The Bruins’ mammoth win over Oregon on Thursday – and losses by four teams ranked ahead of them – earned them four spots in Monday’s AP poll.

It’s undeniable that UCLA’s schedule is weak, limiting its potential to earn resume-building wins – its RPI actually dropped from 20 to 25 after beating lowly Oregon State on Sunday. But humans recognize that if UCLA is capable of beating a team of Oregon’s caliber, it doesn’t need to be heavily penalized for the upredictable element of a schedule that didn’t pan out.

The Bruins have high quality wins over Oregon and Kentucky more than two months apart. They have remained steadily on the cusp of being great all season, but there have been limited opportunities to prove it.

Its win over Oregon, however, earned it no favor from the NCAA tournament selection committee. Coach Steve Alford was none too pleased that UCLA was slotted as a No. 4 seed in Saturday’s preliminary bracket. If the tournament started tomorrow, I’d give UCLA a No. 2 seed and feel good about it.

How I voted in the Week 15 AP men’s basketball poll:
1. Gonzaga
2. Villanova
3. Kansas
4. Baylor

5. Arizona
Arizona’s 27-point loss to Oregon Feb. 4 is such an outlier on its resume – and the Wildcats’ only loss in the last two months – that it still deserves to be a top-5 team. UCLA seems like the only team left on the schedule capable of beating the first-place team in the Pac-12.
6. UCLA
The Bruins so desperately needed Thursday’s win over then-No. 5 Oregon. Even with a win over the Ducks that looks like the best victory on its resume, UCLA is still struggling to get respect from the tournament committee, which projected it as a No. 4 seed. Continue reading

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How I voted in the men’s basketball AP poll: UCLA moves up

After a one-week hiatus, UCLA returned to the top 10 of the Associated Press poll

UCLA’s ceiling in the polls appears to have been lowered by its loss to USC. Despite seven combined losses in the top 10 last week, the Bruins’ 2-0 week earned them a single spot.

Maybe UCLA has officially been branded as a team that can’t play defense at a high enough level. Or once the shine came off the best offensive team in the country, voters are taking a harder look at a schedule that has limited UCLA’s RPI to No. 23.

I’m giving UCLA more credit than most voters, but awaiting the Bruins on Thursday is one of two remaining chances in the regular season to have a significant positive effect on its standing. Despite a loss to Colorado two weeks ago and a one-point win over Arizona State last week, Oregon got plenty of respect for its 27-point win over Arizona on Saturday.

The Ducks jumped eight spots and finally returned to the Associated Press poll’s top five. During a week where the AP top 10 posted a combined record of 12-7, three teams fell out of the top 10. UCLA was one of the three that was voted into the top 10, but the other two leapfrogged the Bruins. Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia fell out. Oregon, North Carolina and UCLA moved in.

North Carolina has one more loss than the Bruins, but its RPI is 4 compared to UCLA’s lowly 23. Until the Bruins beat one of the best two teams in their own conference, UCLA will continue to be passed over by teams from other conferences even if the Bruins have a better record.

How I voted in the men’s basketball Week 14 AP poll:
1. Gonzaga
2. Villanova
3. Kansas
4. Baylor
5. Oregon

Even with Dillon Brooks back in the lineup, the Ducks have been all over the map of late, but a 27-point win over Arizona is too strong of a statement to discount in any way. Oregon has now snapped a 13-game UCLA winning streak and a 15-game Arizona winning streak this season.
6. Arizona
The fact that Arizona lost to Oregon isn’t shocking in itself, but the 27-point margin was difficult to digest. The Wildcats were probably playing the most consistent basketball in the country with Allonzo Trier back in the lineup, but their 15-game winning streak ended with a thud.
7. UCLA
The Bruins looked so lost while being defeated at USC two weeks ago that simply earning two road wins last week went a long way toward restoring credibility. UCLA’s RPI is still lagging at No. 22 in the country, but a massive opportunity awaits the Bruins when Oregon comes to town Thursday.
8. Louisville
9. North Carolina
10. Florida State Continue reading

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How I voted in the college basketball AP poll: UCLA is my No. 1

Aaron Holiday vs UtahEarly in the season, I was stubborn about ranking UCLA above other teams with similar records. My reasoning? A team that finished with a losing record last season needed to earn their standing more so than the other elite teams near the top of the rankings. UCLA was the only team in the entire preseason top 25 that finishing under .500 last season.

At this point, I think the Bruins have earned it. I was just one of three voters to rank them No. 1, likely because Villanova (2) and Kansas (4) each have a much higher RPI than UCLA (17). But it’s not UCLA’s fault that Michigan, Ohio State and Texas A&M aren’t any better this season.

What UCLA does best – run and shoot 3-pointers – it does better than anyone in the country. I’m not sure that Kansas and Villanova can say that. I don’t think either of those two teams can say they have the best player in the country, either. Lonzo Ball has made a legitimate case for that honor.

How I voted in the Week 11 men’s basketball AP poll:
1. UCLA
The Bruins are coming off their first sweep of Pac-12 road games in Steve Alford’s tenure, a comfortable win at Colorado and a squeaker at Utah, which is looking like a top tier conference foe. It shouldn’t be forgotten UCLA’s one loss was on a last-second 3-pointer to an Oregon team looking like a juggernaut right now.
2. Villanova
3. Kansas
4. Baylor

Last week’s AP poll No. 1 team still has the top RPI in the country even with a loss. I think Baylor was unfairly dropped to No. 6 by the voters because their one loss this week was so lopsided. And it should be noted the 21-point was to West Virginia, the No. 7 team in the country.
5. Kentucky Continue reading

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How I voted in the college basketball AP poll: UCLA shorted

UCLA basketball remained at No. 4 in the AP poll this week despite Villanova's loss.

UCLA basketball remained at No. 4 in the AP poll this week despite Villanova’s loss.

Villanova’s first loss of the season should have positively affected UCLA’s ranking, in my opinion. But the Bruins were not part of the shift at the top of the AP poll today that dropped former No. 1 Villanova to No. 3, bumped Baylor to No. 1, Kansas to No. 2 and left UCLA at No. 4 for a second straight week.

To its credit, Villanova has the top RPI in the country, but neither of its big wins – at Purdue and at Creighton – are as impressive as UCLA’s biggest win, at Kentucky. It can be argued that Villanova’s schedule is deeper than UCLA’s, but the Bruins are gaining ground in that respect now that they’re into Pac-12 play.

I dropped USC out of my poll after Sunday’s loss to Cal. I still believe the Trojans are a NCAA tournament team that will finish in the top tier of the Pac-12, but the shine is starting to come off USC after its undefeated run through a weak non-conference schedule.

How I voted in the Week 10 men’s college basketball AP poll:
1.Baylor
2. UCLA

The Bruins are still maturing, which is scary considering how good they already are, but have been dominant when focused. Thursday’s first half against Cal is a prime example when UCLA built a 20-point first-half lead on a team that will easily make the NCAA tournament and finish in the top tier of a good conference.
3. Kansas
4. Kentucky
5. Villanova Continue reading

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How I voted in the AP college basketball poll: UCLA doesn’t gain ground

At the end of the season, I think UCLA’s win over Ohio State will be its second-best non-conference victory behind Kentucky. But it wasn’t enough to move the Bruins any higher than No. 3 on my Associated Press poll ballot – or No. 2 in the actual AP poll.

No. 1 Villanova’s non-conference schedule has admittedly not been a murderer’s row. But across the board, it has been more difficult than UCLA’s. The Bruins’ best win (Dec. 3 at Kentucky) is better than Villanova’s best win (Nov. 14 at Purdue), but the Wildcats’ RPI is 18 spots higher than UCLA’s for a reason.

How I voted in the Week 7 AP poll:
1. Villanova
2. Baylor

3. UCLA
I think UCLA’s victim on Saturday, Ohio State, was a very strong opponent and will prove that over the course of conference play in the Big Ten. I think the Buckeyes will be a much better team than Michigan, for example, and the NCAA tournament committee will appreciate that on selection Sunday.
4. Kansas
5. Duke Continue reading

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