Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 17

Duke’s RJ Barrett on an ‘amazing’ win at Syracuse

Duke freshman star RJ Barrett discusses Duke's 75-65 win at Syracuse on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 at the Carrier Dome. The Blue Devils won despite not having fellow freshman star Zion Williamson, who is out with a knee injury.
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Duke freshman star RJ Barrett discusses Duke's 75-65 win at Syracuse on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 at the Carrier Dome. The Blue Devils won despite not having fellow freshman star Zion Williamson, who is out with a knee injury.

For reasons too complicated and yet too boring to explain, I’m late posting my ballot this week. I doubt anyone will care, because it’s neither complicated nor unpredictable – other than Kansas State finally making it in, congrats everyone and get off my back.

I’ve maintained for some time that Duke and Gonzaga are the two best teams in the country, so I’m swapping the two after Duke’s home loss to North Carolina, with or without Zion. There’s an argument to be made that Duke should still be No. 1, and Duke may be No. 1 again next week. But the Zags have earned this, too. Their conference schedule may not be as dramatic as in other conferences, but there’s something to be said for their metronomic consistency, too. And they still have to go to St. Mary’s, the toughest on that schedule.

North Carolina could probably be higher, given the Tar Heels are playing as well as anyone anywheree right now, but it’s hard to move them ahead of anyone else in that top five. That said, there’s a clear gap between the top eight and the rest of the poll, a group that has set itself apart from the rest.

THIS SEASON’S BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16

MY TOP 25

1. Gonzaga (Last week: 2)

2. Duke (1)

3. Virginia (3)

4. Michigan State (4)

5. Kentucky (5)

6. North Carolina (8)

7. Michigan (7)

8. Tennessee (6)

9. Texas Tech (11)

10. Houston (10)

11. Purdue (13)

12. Marquette (15)

13. Kansas (12)

14. Wisconsin (22)

15. Buffalo (20)

16. Nevada (9)

17. Wofford (21)

18. Iowa (14)

19. LSU (17)

20. Maryland (25)

21. Florida State (19)

22. Virginia Tech (23)

23. Kansas State (NR)

24. Mississippi State (NR)

25. Cincinnati (NR)

OUT Villanova (16), Iowa State (18), Louisville (24).

Roy Williams addresses the media following the Tar Heels' win over the Blue Devils

Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.
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