AP College Basketball Poll 2014: Complete Week 2 Rankings Released

After most of the nation’s best started their seasons with win-padding games against overmatched cupcakes, not many changes were expected in the Week 2 Associated Press poll. 

Kentucky, Arizona and Wisconsin remain the three best teams in the land after each went 2-0 over the weekend. The Wildcats of Kentucky, who opened at No. 1 for the second straight season, were first on 49 of 65 ballots. That’s down four from their preseason total of 52 first-place votes.

The Arizona Wildcats and Badgers were at the top of four and seven ballots, respectively, with Duke adding four first-place votes after receiving zero in the preseason.   

Kansas rounds out the Top Five. Here is a look at how the second slate of rankings played out:

While the win now looks fine from the final scoreline, Kentucky received a scare Sunday from visiting Buffalo. The Bulls outscored their 5-star opponents 38-33 in the first half, which included a meme-ifying dunk from Justin Moss on UK’s Willie Cauley-Stein. Kentucky righted the ship in a dominant second half, though, holding Buffalo to 14 points en route to a 71-52 victory.

Boasting perhaps the deepest team of this century, John Calipari has made hay keeping his players fresh. No Wildcat has played more than 26 minutes in either of the first two games, and the second half against Buffalo saw him go long stretches of high-priority minutes with all-bench units on the floor. Ten Kentucky players are averaging at least 16 minutes per game so far.

“They substitute a lot of guys,” Buffalo forward Moss said, per Rick Bozich of WDRB.com. “They get fresh, [but] they don’t really get into a rhythm. 

“I felt like us being on the court and our substitution scheme helped us get better rhythm. They got fresh legs so that allowed them to run up and down. Me personally, I wouldn’t like that.”

Kentucky doesn’t have any more time to waste getting into a rhythm. The Wildcats’ real tests begin Tuesday when they face No. 5 Kansas as part of the State Farm Champions Classic.

Kansas will be well-rested having not played since its season-opening win over UC Santa Barbara. The underdog Gauchos kept themselves in the game throughout thanks to a 22-point, 13-rebound game from Alan Williams, but a strong 14-point outing from Devonte Graham off the bench helped the Jayhawks open their season with a win.

“It’s a great barometer,” Kansas coach Bill Self told Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star on the matchup with Kentucky. “But the thing that will be interesting for us: There’s a whole different level we’ve got to play.”

The State Farm Champions Classic, hosted in Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will also see fourth-ranked Duke take on No. 19 Michigan State.

The Blue Devils are off to a rip-roaring offensive start, averaging 111 points across two wins against Presbyterian and Fairfield. Freshman All-American Jahlil Okafor has proven himself worthy of the hype thus far, missing just three of his 20 shot attempts and averaging 18 points per game.

“One of our main things is sharing the ball,” Okafor told reporters. “Everybody’s eating right now.”

Five Duke players are averaging double figures, four of whom are freshmen. Justise Winslow is second on the team at 15.5 points per game, Grayson Allen is nearly averaging a point per minute and Tyus Jones has been the unselfish leader of the offense. 

Like his counterpart in Lexington, Mike Krzyzewski has been able to rely heavily on depth. Ten Blue Devils are averaging 15 minutes per game, though it’s likely we’ll see some major alterations to the rotation against Michigan State.

The Spartans, having lost a number of players from last year’s Elite Eight outfit, are nowhere near Duke’s level of depth. Their season-opening win against Navy saw six players receive 20-plus minutes of action as the Midshipmen surprisingly pushed them to the brink. Travis Trice scored 25 points, adding five rebounds and five assists, to be Tom Izzo’s offensive savior.

“It’s not about me right now. It’s about the team,” Trice told reporters after the game. “We’ve got to figure out what we’re doing wrong. That’s not how we want to play.”

Another early tournament campaign gets underway at the Maui Invitational, which starts its campus-site opening games this week. No. 16 San Diego State and No. 25 Utah will get their first taste of Top 25 action against one another after opening with strong victories.

The Aztecs forced 17 turnovers and had four double-figure scorers in their 79-58 victory over Cal State Northridge. Brandon Taylor scored a team-high 19 points as one of four starters in double figures for the Utes, who took down Ball State 90-72 at home.

The only other game scheduled between Top 25 opponents will take place late Monday, when No. 13 Gonzaga and No. 22 SMU meet in Spokane. The Bulldogs are coming off a 104-58 blowout win over Sacramento State. Larry Brown’s SMU team is coming off an equally impressive 93-54 win against Lamar.

For the most part, though, teams are still holding tight against cupcakes as they look to get into an early-season rhythm. More high-intensity games will start trickling onto the schedule next week, as the typical barrage of high-profile games around the Thanksgiving holiday start coming around.

For now, we’ll have to settle for the handful of good scraps around a pretty dreary dinner table. Let’s hope they’re worth it.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Florida Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Gators

After a successful season led by senior stars, the Florida Gators are in the process of reloading for the 2014-15 season. 

Young players from last year’s squad, a few transfers and incoming freshmen will help Billy Donovan’s team compete with Kentucky in the SEC once again. That task may be tough, but with a coach like Donovan anything is possible. 

Continue reading on for a look at how the Gators’ season will pan out. 

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Gonzaga Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Bulldogs

If I told you that Gonzaga could lose just one game this season, would you believe me?

Probably not when you consider that the Bulldogs enter this season after a series of letdowns with a roster of players that have never been past the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

This year’s team, however, is incredibly talented and, more importantly, incredibly deep.

Led by a senior-laden backcourt that features Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. and a dynamic frontcourt that could lead the nation in scoring, Gonzaga is primed for a deep run in March.

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Beck/Bucher Debate: Who Is the NBA’s Most Complete Point Guard?

The NBA has an influx of top-tier point guards who demonstrate varying skills and talents.

While the position may have shifted from a pass-first mindset to a get-to-the-hoop mindset, a few floor leaders still have the ability to win while exhibiting the quintessential traits of a point guard.

Who is the most complete 1 in the NBA? 

Find out as Adam Lefkoe goes in-depth with Howard Beck and Ric Bucher, who give their answers in the video above.

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Indiana Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Hoosiers

The Indiana Hoosiers, for decades one of the most iconic basketball programs in the country, will begin the upcoming season under a veil of scrutiny, facing many questions about discipline, leadership and judgement in Bloomington.

The past week has not been kind to the program, with head coach Tom Crean announcing four-game suspensions—two exhibition, two regular-season games—for sophomores Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams, each for failing drug tests.

An additional four-game suspension was also doled out to incoming freshman Emmitt Holt for his role in a Nov. 1 car accident which left teammate Devin Davis hospitalized with a head injury.

Davis, who was later found by police to be mostly at fault for jumping in front of Holt’s car, has no timetable for return from the accident in which alcohol was a factor.

That’s no way to start a season, and particularly for a team that seems middle of the road.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get right to it. This is your complete 2014-15 season preview for the embattled Indiana Hoosiers.

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Maryland Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Terrapins

The Maryland Terrapins, making their Big Ten debut this season, will be hoping to rebound from a lackluster 2013-14 campaign that saw them finish with a pedestrian 17-15 mark, missing out on the Big Dance and failing to even qualify for the NIT.

Head coach Mark Turgeon sits firmly on the hot seat entering his fourth season at the helm in College Park, with a fanbase growing increasingly agitated by the lack of NCAA tournament bids under his leadership.

The Terrapins haven’t been dancing since the 2009-10 season, and they’ll need to rely heavily on freshmen in order to get there this year.

That seems like a tall task.

But given the top-tier nature of Turgeon’s incoming recruiting class and the return of last year’s leading scorer Dez Wells and fellow starters Evan Smotrycz—who could miss the beginning of the season with a left ankle sprain—and Jake Layman, this is a team that could surprise a few people and play meaningful games in March.

Read on for your complete preview and prediction for the 2014-15 Maryland Terrapins.

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Michigan Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Wolverines

John Beilein’s grand design is unfolding in front of his very eyes—for the first time since the 1990s, Michigan is a feared program both at the Big Ten and national levels.

Reaching the title bout and Elite Eight in consecutive seasons will do that for a team.

This year, the Wolverines are without power from the likes of a Trey Burke or Nik Stauskas—the two stars who led the charge in 2013 and 2014, respectively—but they do have a dynamic trio of returning talent that can hang with the best on any given night: Caris LeVert, a junior wing, Derrick Walton, a sophomore point guard, and Zak Irvin, a sophomore guard/wing.

Should those three reach expected peaks, Beilein’s young squad could end up shocking a few favorites; the Big Ten may be Wisconsin’s to lose, but don’t discount Michigan—its lethal blend of experience, youth, depth and versatility could conquer a few favorites come March.

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Wisconsin Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Badgers

Wisconsin goes into the 2014-15 season dealing with an unfamiliar feeling: the pressure to live up to massive expectations.

The Badgers have been one of the most consistent teams in the nation, earning an NCAA tournament bid in each of Bo Ryan’s 13 seasons with the program. However, this season might be “championship or bust” after returning most of last year’s Final Four team.

A No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll represents the highest-ever preseason mark for Wisconsin and only the third time it started the year in the Top 10. As a result, the squad will have a target on its back the entire year and will get the best effort from every opponent it faces.

The talent is there to bring home a national title, but will this squad wilt under the pressure?

Here is a guide to the Badgers’ upcoming season with predictions for what to expect in 2014-15.

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Michigan State Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Spartans

Another year, another opportunity to compete for a Big Ten championship and another year to make a mad dash through March and April—that’s always the mode of operation for coach Tom Izzo, who’s been to six Final Fours and won a national title while roaming the sidelines at Michigan State.

The 2014-15 Spartans aren’t exactly loaded, but they’re definitely an Izzo team—meaning that regardless of perception, it has the necessary components to overachieve. With the addition of transfer Bryn Forbes, Izzo’s respectable mix of Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice has what it takes to rumble its way to the top of the Big Ten standings, despite losing Adreian Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling to the pro ranks.

Michigan State opens its season Nov. 14 by taking on Navy at the Quicken Loans Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland. That’s where it all starts. And if history has anything to say, the ride will either end in national glory or sometime in late March.

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Texas Basketball: Complete Roster, Season Preview for 2014-15 Longhorns

Excitement is buzzing across Austin as the college basketball season approaches, especially after a rough 2013-14 campaign put in by the Texas Longhorns.

Freshman Myles Turner will add an extra dimension to a dangerous frontcourt that contains three star returners. 

Texas also returns two key players at the guard position, which is why Longhorns fans are expecting their team to challenge in the Big 12.

Continue reading on for a preview of Texas’ 2014-15 season. 

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