5 biggest winners and losers in college basketball this week

The Kentucky Wildcats notched a major overtime win against their in-state rival Louisville Cardinals Saturday afternoon.

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The Kentucky Wildcats notched a major overtime win against their in-state rival Louisville Cardinals Saturday afternoon.
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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
  • The eighth week of the 2019-2020 basketball season has come and gone, and the AP Top 25 Poll has once again had a bit of a shakeup at the top.
  • For the second week in a row, the Gonzaga Bulldogs now sit atop the college basketball rankings, but the previously third-ranked Louisville Cardinals dropped out of the top five thanks to an overtime loss to their in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats.
  • The Duke Blue Devils, Kansas Jayhawks, Oregon Ducks, and Ohio State Buckeyes, round out the top five.
  • The Big Ten leads all conferences with six teams in the AP Top 25 Poll, while the ACC and Big 12 follow close behind with four apiece in the rankings.
  • Here are the five biggest winners and losers from Week 8 of the college basketball season.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Winners


▲ No. 16 West Virginia Mountaineers — Up 6 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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West Viginia’s Emmitt Matthews Jr.
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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers got off to a hot start this season, but an early-December loss to the unranked St. John’s Red Storm set them back in the college basketball hierarchy. Still, impressive wins against the Wichita State Shockers and Rhode Island Rams – plus a single-loss record late in December – had the Mountaineers on some fans’ radars. But Sunday’s 67-59 win against the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes established West Virginia as a force to be reckoned. Now, Bob Huggins’ squad has another opportunity to bolster its resume in a tough matchup against the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday.


▲ No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Kentucky’s EJ Montgomery.
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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Back-to-back losses to the unranked Utah Utes and then-No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes set John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats back – thirteen spots back in last week’s AP Poll, to be exact. But an overtime win against their in-state rival and then third-ranked Louisville Cardinals certainly helped put the SEC on notice heading into conference play. Still, a two-spot jump in the AP Poll rankings doesn’t fully reflect the magnitude of the victory.


▲ No. 13 San Diego State Aztecs — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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San Diego State’s Yanni Wetzell.
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Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs are officially undefeated heading into the new year, making them one of two teams to have avoided a loss this far into the 2019-20 season. The Aztecs readily defeated the Cal Poly Mustangs at home Saturday, and now San Diego State will open Mountain West play with a target on its back. Still, with no ranked opponents on their schedule as of now, the Aztecs are in a good position to cruise through the remainder of the regular season.


▲ No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks — Up 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Kansas’ Marcus Garrett.
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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a major loss to the Villanova Wildcats, Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks bounced back with a 72-56 win over the Stanford Cardinal and jumped two spots in the AP Poll rankings. Heading into 2020 – and conference play – on a win should help the Jayhawks, who are set to host the red-hot and 16th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday.


▶︎ No. 8 Auburn Tigers — Same spot in the AP Top 25 Poll as last week

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Auburn’s Samir Doughty.
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John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Pearl has orchestrated one of the more underrated runs of the early college basketball season this year, leading his Auburn Tigers to a perfect record heading into 2020. On Sunday, Auburn dealt the Lipscomb Bisons a 27-point loss to remain unblemished, but the SEC certainly won’t prove easy to survive unscathed. Still, the Tigers have a month before they’ll face another ranked opponent in conference heavyweight Kentucky, so expect them to continue climbing up the rankings for now.


Losers


▼ No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes — Down 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Ohio State’s Gabe Osabuohien.
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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Until their December 15 loss to the unranked Minnesota Golden Gophers, the Ohio State Buckeyes were looking like the team to beat not just in the Big Ten but in all of college basketball. A big win over the Kentucky Wildcats helped the Buckeyes right the ship, but a loss to the then-No. 22 West Virginia Mountaineers the following game set them back again. Still, Ohio State is sitting pretty in the top five of the AP Poll rankings heading into the new decade. The Buckeyes will open the year with a game against the Wisconsin Badgers before facing off against the No. 15 Maryland Terrapins January 7.


▼ No. 7 Louisville Cardinals — Down 4 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Louisville head coach Chris Mack.
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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Since their shocking 13-point loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders December 10, the Louisville Cardinals have been on a tear, beating their opponents by an average of 28 points. But a marquee matchup against a downtrodden Kentucky Wildcats squad still spelled trouble for Chris Mack and company, who couldn’t come away from Rupp Arena with the overtime victory against their in-state rival. Now, Louisville heads into conference play facing a stacked ACC and with a top-20 matchup against the No. 18 Florida State Seminoles looming just four days after the new year.


▼ No. 15 Maryland Terrapins — Down 2 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Maryland’s Eric Ayala.
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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland Terrapins beat the Bryant Bulldogs by 14 on Sunday, but that wasn’t enough to keep them from sliding two spots in the AP Poll rankings. Their loss to the Myles Powell-less Seton Hall Pirates the week prior may still be holding them back, and now the Terrapins enter conference play in the Big Ten. Maryland will face two top-25 opponents in the first 10 days of 2020 looking to reestablish itself amongst the best teams in the nation.


▼ No. 19 Virginia Cavaliers — Down 3 spots in the AP Top 25 Poll

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Virginia’s Braxton Key.
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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Like Maryland, the Virginia Cavaliers may have gotten punished for an earlier loss in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. Tony Bennett’s defensive juggernaut slipped up mightily against the unranked South Carolina Gamecocks December 22, and a 65-56 win over the Navy Midshipmen wasn’t enough to keep them from falling another three spots further in the rankings this week. Virginia kicks off ACC play Tuesday with a grudge match against its in-state rival Virginia Tech Hokies, who stunned the Michigan State Spartans late in November.


▼ Washington Huskies — Dropped out of the AP Top 25 Poll

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Washington’s Jaden McDaniels.
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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With two top-10 recruits from the class of 2019 on its roster, Washington was meant to be one of the most talented squads in all of college basketball this season. Instead, the Huskies have already taken three losses before Pac-12 play. The first two losses, which came against the Tennessee Volunteers and the now top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs, were somewhat expected if not justifiable, but Wednesday’s loss to the unranked Houston Cougars certainly did not bode well for Washington. Unsurprisingly, the Huskies dropped out of the rankings as a result, and their light schedule over the next few weeks all but assures they’ll stay out of the top 25 for the forseeable future.


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