Villanova rolls in first game at No. 1
By JOHN MARSHALL
Dec. 17, 2017
Villanova handled its move to No. 1 with ease. No surprise there. The Wildcats won a national championship two seasons ago after spending three weeks at No. 1.
No reason to expect a change atop the AP Top 25 on Monday.
No. 3 Wichita State, on the other hand, likely will take a tumble after running into Trae Young and Oklahoma.
The Shockers (8-2) had won four straight since a one-point loss to Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational title game and moved up to No. 3 in last week's poll.
Wichita State had a chance to bolster its resume and hold onto the third spot on Saturday against the Sooners. Instead, it had trouble containing Young, who has emerged as one of the nation's top freshmen.
The shifty 6-foot-2 guard from Norman leads the country with 28.8 points per game and is third in assists at 8.9. Though he didn't shoot particularly well — 9 of 22 from the field, 4 of 11 from 3-point range — Young had 29 points and 10 assists against the Shockers, leading Oklahoma to a 91-83 win that could move the Sooners (8-1) into the rankings and drop the Shockers several spots.
"I haven't coached against a freshman that plays the game at that level," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "Hedging, switching. We tried everything against him. Trae Young is not going to get rattled. He is too good."
The Shockers at least got some good news last week: Markis McDuffie, the team's leading scorer and rebounder last season, is closer to returning from a left foot stress fracture that has kept him out all season.
Villanova moved to No. 1 last week for the first time since 2016 on its way to the national championship. The Wildcats played one game after taking over the top spot and turned it into a rout, rolling over Temple 87-67 on Wednesday to win its unprecedented 22nd straight Big 5 game.
Jalen Brunson was the catalyst for the Wildcats once again, scoring 22 of his career-high 31 points in the first half. He also had six rebounds and five assists in 38 turnover-free minutes.
"He was just spectacular," Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. "He's just terrific, plays with a great pace, so smart, great toughness. His efficiency is ridiculous."
With Wichita State's loss, expect a shuffle in the top 10 of Monday's poll.
Duke (11-1), which dropped from the No. 1 spot after a loss to Boston College on Dec. 9, is No. 4 and did not play last week.
Arizona State (10-0) moved up to No. 5 after beating then-No. 2 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse last week and could move up another spot after rallying from a 13-point deficit to beat Vanderbilt 76-64 on Sunday.
And keep an eye on No. 6 Miami. The Hurricanes (9-0) are one of four undefeated teams after beating George Washington 59-50 on the road Saturday. A move into the top five is likely.
One undefeated team that has flown mostly under the radar is No. 14 TCU. That could change soon.
The Horned Frogs won 12 more games than the previous season in their first season under coach Jamie Dixon in 2016-17 and could be angling for an NCAA Tournament berth this season.
TCU's talented front-court quartet of Kenrich Williams, Vladimir Brodziansky, J.D. Miller and Ahmed Hamdy has led the Horned Frogs to wins over SMU and Nevada, which was ranked No. 22 at the time.
TCU faces Texas Southern on Monday and William & Mary next Friday.
Florida moved up to No. 5 in the Top 25 with a thrilling double-overtime victory over then-No. 17 Gonzaga at the PK80 Invitational.
The Gators have since lost three of four. The one victory was against then-No. 17 Cincinnati, but a 71-69 loss to Clemson on Saturday could send them out of the poll from No. 22.