5 biggest winners and losers in college basketball this week

The Oregon Ducks are one of this week's biggest losers thanks to a nine-point road loss to the unranked Colorado Buffaloes in their Pac-12 opener Thursday.

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The Oregon Ducks are one of this week’s biggest losers thanks to a nine-point road loss to the unranked Colorado Buffaloes in their Pac-12 opener Thursday.
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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Winners


▲ No. 8 Michigan State Spartans — Up 6 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Michigan State’s Cassius Winston.
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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

After entering the year as the top team in the nation, Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans floundered considerably well before conference play tipped off. Since their home blow-out loss to the then-No. 10 Duke Blue Devils on December 3, the Spartans have won seven straight. Michigan State capped that stretch with a massive 87-69 win over the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines to remind head coach Juwan Howard which team runs The Great Lakes State. Point guard and consensus preseason player of the year Cassius Winston exploded for a 32-point, 9-assist performance that seemed to solidify the Spartans’ return to the peak of college basketball. This week, Michigan State will host the Minnesota Golden Gophers before traveling to Indiana to take on the Purdue Boilermakers.


▲ No. 10 Florida State Seminoles — Up 8 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Florida State’s Malik Osborne.
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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators were widely expected to be the major college basketball contender to come out of the Sunshine State this year. Still, the Florida State Seminoles have overtaken them as Florida’s premier squad. This week, the Seminoles readily handled the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before handing the then-No. 7 Louisville Cardinals a 13-point home loss. Florida State will travel to North Carolina to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons before heading home to host the No. X Virginia Cavaliers in a top-25 showdown a week later.


▲ No. 20 Penn State Nittany Lions — Up one spot in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Penn State’s Lamar Stevens and Myles Dread.
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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State Nittany Lions have quietly made it into 2020 with just two losses on their resume, and now they’re primed to be a surprise force in a stacked Big Ten conference. This week, they took down the then No. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes in a come-from-behind three-point victory at The Palestra. Now Penn State will face the unranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Wisconsin Badgers before gearing up for a top-25 showdown against the Ohio State Buckeyes the following week.


▲ No. 2 Duke Blue Devils — Same spot in the AP Top 25 Poll

The Duke Blue Devils have only faltered once this year, and ever since that horrendous loss to the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at the end of November, they’ve looked to be one of the premier team’s in the nation. Duke freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. has made a convincing case to be the program’s second-consecutive player of the year thanks to his 18.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game on 62.8% shooting from the field. Last week, he led the Blue Devils to back-to-back blowouts, first routing ACC bottom-dweller Boston College by a whopping 39 points before crushing the Miami Hurricanes 95-62 on the road. Coach K’s squad faces another pair of unthreatening conference foes this week before gearing up for what will likely be a top-10 showdown against the Louisville Cardinals the following week.


▲ No. 22 Texas Tech Red Raiders — Same spot in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and Terrence Shannon Jr.
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Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

After losing three straight contests to start December, the Texas Red Raiders shocked the world of college basketball by taking down the then top-ranked Lousiville Cardinals by 13 at Madison Square Garden. Since then, Chris Beard’s squad hasn’t lost. The Red Raiders’ most recent victims were the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who lost to Texas Tech 85-50 on Saturday. Now, the Red Raiders will have yet another high-profile opportunity to prove that they’re the real deal as they host the No. 4 Baylor Bears Tuesday night before facing the No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday.


Losers


▼ No. 19 Michigan Wolverines — Down 7 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Michigan’s Juwan Howard and Zavier Simpson.
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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

First-year head coach Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines shocked the world by beating two ranked opponents – the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Gonzaga Bulldogs – in back-to-back contests at the Battle 4 Atlantis during Thanksgiving week. But Michigan has not been as consistently dominant in the weeks since, losing to the Louisville Cardinals, unranked Illinois Fighting Illini, and Oregon Ducks. This week, the Wolverines went on the road to face their in-state rival Michigan State Spartans and got blown right out of the arena with an 18-point loss. Michigan has two middle-of-the-road Big Ten opponents on its docket this week, giving Howard’s squad a chance to regroup before facing the No. X Iowa Hawkeyes on the road next Friday.


▼ No. 9 Oregon Ducks — Down 5 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Oregon’s Will Richardson.
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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Though they’ve been really solid throughout the season, the Oregon Ducks are one of this week’s biggest losers thanks to a nine-point road loss to the unranked Colorado Buffaloes in their Pac-12 opener Thursday. They rebounded with a five-point win against the Utah Utes Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a considerable slide in the AP Poll rankings this week. Now, Oregon faces arguably its toughest conference opponent in Nico Mannion and the Arizona Wildcats Thursday before hosting the Arizona State Sun Devils two days later.


▼ No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes — Down 6 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Ohio State’s Brad Davison.
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Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, the Ohio State Buckeyes lost back-to-back contests, the second of which came to an unranked opponent in its Big Ten opener. Ohio State hosted the unranked Wisconsin Badgers and faltered in a major way Friday night. Now, the Buckeyes will have to rally quickly as they travel to College Park to face the No. 12 Maryland Terrapins Tuesday night.


▼ No. 21 Memphis Tigers — Down 12 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa.
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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Things may finally be starting to unravel for the James Wiseman-less Memphis Tigers. Penny Hardaway’s squad fell to the unranked Georgia Bulldogs at home, even with star freshman Anthony Edwards having an off night. A Thursday-night date with the surging No. 23 Wichita State Shockers may be a make-or-break contest for the Tigers, who were looking surprisingly solid despite losing their star due to NCAA violations and, subsequently, to prepare for the NBA draft on his own.


▼ No. 16 Villanova Wildcats — Down 6 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Villanova’s Justin Moore.
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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Immediately after taking down a solid and previous-ranked Xavier Musketeers squad 68-62, the Villanova Wildcats traveled to Wisconsin and, like many who have faced the unranked Marquette Golden Eagles this season, got smoked by sharpshooter Markus Howard. The senior star went off for a game-high 29 points and a bonus eight rebounds to give Steve Wojciechowski’s squad the 11-point victory. Nova’s Big East schedule is certainly no cakewalk, and Jay Wright and company will face the Creighton Bluejays on the road before hosting the Georgetown Hoyas for a grudge match at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.


Now check out the most memorable college basketball stars of the last decade:

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Duke’s Grayson Allen.
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Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The 17 most memorable college basketball players of the decade