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

AUBURN, Ala. — At this point in the season, Auburn basketball is still a projected No. 2 seed with a No. 7 ranking in the RPI. Penalizing the No. 12 Tigers for a road loss just doesn’t make much sense.

However, that will most likely happen Monday when the Associated Press poll is released. Polling during the 2017-18 season has been highly reactionary, swinging with every loss in what has been an upset-heavy season of college basketball.

As a voter, I try to judge an entire résumé when figuring out which team goes where in my ballot. Since we’re almost in March, the tiers of power are obvious. A lot of conference slates wrap up this week. Unless the upset losses are massive and the head-to-head results are too daunting, it’s hard to justify a ton of movement for most teams.

MORE:  Auburn basketball falls short of SEC-clinching comeback win vs. Florida

With that being said, here’s my AP Top 25 ballot:

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

Auburn actually moves up one spot this week to No. 10 after crushing Alabama at home and losing a nail-biter to Florida on the road. Granted, that ascension is mostly due to the pair of losses by Texas Tech. I believe Auburn has a better résumé than Cincinnati, even though the most of my fellow voters don’t agree.

Bruce Pearl’s Tigers won a home game against Alabama with just seven rotation players and nearly doubled the point spread. They went to Florida a few days later and lost a game that they weren’t favored to win. And right now, I don’t believe any team below 24-5 Auburn has done enough to justify a move up. So, Auburn is a top 10 team in my eyes. I don’t expect many to agree with me, but the season speaks for itself.

Other notes from my ballot this week:

  • Villanova lost again on the road after crushing another conference opponent earlier in the week. Some people might have an argument to move Xavier ahead of the Wildcats, but I’ll simply point to the fact they beat the Musketeers by a combined 40 points in their two matchups. Duke, Purdue and Kansas aren’t ahead of ‘Nova in my eyes, either, so it stays at No. 3.
  • I moved Duke ahead of Purdue and Kansas ahead of Gonzaga this week. Duke’s résumé got stronger, while Purdue’s stayed the same as it blasted Illinois and Minnesota to wrap up the conference season. Kansas annihilated Oklahoma and then beat Texas Tech on the road. All four teams are legitimately strong top 10 programs, but I just had to shuffle them a little bit because of the wins that were picked up by the Blue Devils and the Jayhawks.
  • Texas Tech only goes down four spots after losses to Oklahoma State and Kansas. Of that wad of 7-loss teams, the Red Raiders have the best overall résumé, thanks to the meat grinder that is the Big 12. I’m still having a harder time giving Wichita State as much love as they’ll probably get in this poll, too.
  • Arizona is the only team that took a real nosedive this week. The Wildcats lost to Oregon in overtime after the bombshell report that coach Sean Miller discussed a payment for Deandre Ayton over a wiretap during the federal investigation into college basketball. Overall, Arizona has some great wins and several ugly losses — and some of its wins don’t look so great in hindsight, either. Some people might drop them out of the poll altogether. I think that’s a little much, but the Wildcats are just ahead of a few mid-majors in my ballot.
  • Welcome back, Kentucky. The Wildcats look like they’re finally figuring things out and they’ve put up three straight double-digit wins against solid SEC teams. UK has a strong RPI, several wins over teams in this ballot and a chance to cap the regular season with a road win against Florida. Watch out.

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

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