Maladroit44's Week 8 Ballot

1 UConn The gap between UConn and Purdue is closer than it's been in a while, thanks to the Huskies' first imperfect game against Georgetown. They've still been more consistently elite by a margin, though.
2 Purdue One does wonder if UNO would've hung around longer without a 28.4% turnover rate, the highest Purdue has forced in weeks. But, I mean, it's UNO. Hard to consider it a mark against Purdue.
3Houston Computers say Houston is the best team in the country, and they're not necessarily wrong. But the way they played Kent State and Alabama does suggest some cause for concern.
4 UCLA I said more or less this last week, but the way UCLA's turned the corner is rather fascinating. I'm inclined to believe in their recent performance thanks to the prove-it wins over UMD and UK.
5 Alabama Alabama had just about the worst 20-point win you've ever seen over Jackson State. A 4:30 scoring drought, a one-point halftime lead, and 17 turnovers against a bottom-50 D1 team? Yeesh.
6Tennessee As with almost every team (except Gonzaga, which has played, like, eight top-five opponents), the Vols' ranking is very reliant on a few games. Good news: UMD isn't dead! Bad news: Colorado might be!
7 Kansas For a team that doesn't really like shooting threes, Kansas has really struggled at getting to the line in its last couple games. Might be something to watch.
8 Arkansas Arkansas is the biggest watershed in these rankings. They're the first team that has looked vulnerable with regularity (vs NDSU, Creighton, Troy, UNCG), but they're the best of the flawed teams.
9Gonzaga Gonzaga remains enigmatic. As in, "smoking top-five Bama, then going down 10 points to Montana" enigmatic. Getting almost no info on this team for the next three months should be fun.
10Xavier You know what else is fun? Xavier! They love shooting the lights out from all levels and the defense is decent enough to pick them up when some shots don't fall—like this week against Seton Hall.
11 Virginia Less fun, unsurprisingly: Virginia. Usually that just means in general because they play the most boring style known to man, but this week it was also true for UVA fans on account of losing to Miami.
12 Arizona I'm sticking by my guns here. Arizona is overrated. The loss to Utah was quite bad on sheer magnitude and only one marquee win, Tennessee (at home by five), holds much water right now.
13Texas Very normal things going on in Austin right now. I'm increasingly suspicious of the logic that Beard's absence was 100% responsible for the Rice game, since Texas has played fine without him since.
14 Ohio State Ohio State...*seems* good? They don't have a banner win to prove it (TTU doesn't count, they have the same problem), but they've looked really capable in all their losses to solid top-30 teams.
15West Virginia Ascribe WVU's ugly win over a terrible Stony Brook to pre-Christmas to lackadaisicalness (google said this was the noun form don't @ me), if you will. Personally I won't. Excuses are for cowards.
16 Kentucky Kentucky is a team that's built to stifle teams on defense, not roll them on offense. So, uh...a bit concerning to give up 68 points to THE LITERAL WORST OFFENSE IN DIVISION 1, I would say.
17 Auburn Good to know Auburn isn't completely dead. The early SEC schedule will be very interesting—it's really light from here to the B12-SEC challenge, with only one ranked opponent (Arkansas at home).
18 New Mexico New Mexico has shown an interesting tendency to struggle for a couple games, then go on a tear and assuage any doubts, then rinse and repeat. They're on a tear right now.
19 Wisconsin start connor essegian
20North Carolina UNC was underwhelming early and bad during the four-game losing streak (though not *terrible*). Since then, however, they've looked legit, including in a win over Michigan this week.
21 Marquette Losing at Providence might not actually be so bad? I don't know. Marquette is a very peculiar team. The next four games should all be easy wins...but we'll see.
22 Baylor Baylor's defense absolutely throttled Northwestern State. Trouble is, their offense scored 52 fewer points on the Demons than Rice had a couple days prior. Not ideal.
23 Memphis Memphis was designed in a lab to be as good as possible while completely ignoring the existence of the three-point line. Whoever came up with this experiment has presumably been fired.
24 Charleston Just when Charleston was beginning to worry me, there they go steamrolling CCU like a proper top-25 team should. Oh, uh, also, I should mention: they're not an underdog for the rest of the year.
25 Wofford The SoCon team of the week: Wofford! It took 'em three tries and a couple three-point losses, but the Terriers went into College Station without their HC and stunned Texas A&M this week.

Overall Rationale

Also considered: Maryland, Mississippi State, UNLV, Duke, San Diego State, Penn State | Not really considered, but hey, they're out there: Virginia Tech, Saint Mary's, Rutgers, Indiana, UAB, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas State | Enigmas: Mizzou, Miami, TCU | Good yule and a good new year!