Justin Ferguson: Where I voted Auburn basketball in my AP Top 25 ballot

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AUBURN, Ala. — Timing has been everything this season for teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. For Auburn basketball, that continued this past week.

Auburn rallied from a big second-half deficit but lost a heartbreaker to Texas A&M at home. But Auburn was one of just 15 ranked teams to lose last week, including six of the teams in the Top 10. It also helped matters for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers, who won by double-digits on the road at Georgia, when Texas A&M beat Kentucky handily Saturday.

The Tigers should stay in the top 10 for another week, considering the chaos that happened just below them in the Top 25. A one-point loss to a team that should jump back in the Top 25 this week will look tame by comparison.

MORE: Auburn basketball is top No. 2 seed in first selection committee bracket

Here’s my ballot:

  1. Virginia
  2. Villanova
  3. Xavier
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Michigan State
  6. Purdue
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Auburn
  9. Gonzaga
  10. Ohio State
  11. Duke
  12. Kansas
  13. Clemson
  14. North Carolina
  15. Saint Mary’s
  16. Tennessee
  17. Rhode Island
  18. Texas A&M
  19. Arizona
  20. Michigan
  21. West Virginia
  22. Oklahoma
  23. Nevada
  24. Wichita State
  25. New Mexico State

Auburn dropped just one spot to No. 8 this week in my ballot. A one-point loss at home to a great team — when it has all of its starters — without your best two-way player for most of it isn’t cause for a free fall. Auburn is considered the No. 5 team by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the No. 9 team on KenPom and the No. 7 team in the RPI.

I like the resumes of Cincinnati and Texas Tech more than the committee right now. Auburn still has opportunities to pick up good-looking wins, though, with Kentucky, Alabama and Florida coming up soon.

Other notes from my ballot this week:

  • Yes, Virginia is moving up a spot to No. 1 despite losing Saturday to Virginia Tech. Look, it was a crazy week. Villanova lost to St. John’s. Purdue lost twice. The Cavaliers are tied with Xavier for most wins over top-50 KenPom teams, and their two losses are by a combined eight points. That’s enough reason for me to put UVA at the top.
  • No. 2 through No. 5 gets dicey. Villanova’s loss to St. John’s wasn’t great, but the Wildcats weren’t at full strength — and the Red Storm were fresh off beating Duke. An 8-1 record against the KenPom top 50 is remarkable, and basically every team has had a bad loss or two this season.
  • No. 3 is Xavier, which keeps finding ways to win after getting shelled by Villanova last month. The Musketeers have the head-to-head win over…
  • …Cincinnati, which gets the edge over Michigan State. The Bearcats are routing basically everyone they face these days, while the Spartans have had to eke out wins against similar teams in the RPI and KenPom. While Cincinnati doesn’t face the stiffest competition in the AAC, there’s something to be said for winning often and winning big. Purdue only slips to No. 6 with those two losses, which were nail-biters against two great teams. The Boilermakers have a lot of quality wins.
  • Gonzaga and Ohio State make good jumps this week after big-time road wins in conference play. Gonzaga crushed St. Mary’s, and it has the benefit of a good nonconference schedule to offset some of the weaker teams in the WCC. Ohio State is worthy of that top 10 ranking after beating Purdue away from home and smacking an Iowa team that Michigan State just edged.
  • Texas A&M is back with a vengeance after beating a pair of ranked teams in Auburn and Kentucky. This team is top 10 quality when everybody is playing, and it proved that this past week. The Aggies have a great resume that keeps getting better.
  • It hasn’t been easy giving out these final few spots in an upset-heavy season of college basketball. This week, I’m welcoming New Mexico State to the party. The Aggies are undefeated in their conference and beat a few solid teams back in the nonconference slate. Hey, it’s more fun than kicking the No. 25 spot around some 8-loss power-conference teams.

The post Justin Ferguson: Where I voted Auburn basketball in my AP Top 25 ballot appeared first on SEC Country.

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