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The Messenger’s College Basketball Top 25: Walking a Razorbacks’ Edge



Senior basketball writers Seth Davis and Jeff Goodman reveal their Top 25 rankings for men’s college basketball every week. The Messenger’s overall Top 25 is compiled based on a scoring system that combines the writers’ individual lists. Here’s where things stand as of November 20.

Seth Davis: We have very quickly reached the point where results and metrics should matter more than brand, expectations and previous rankings. So I dropped FAU and Arkansas completely off my ballot for losing at home to Bryant and UNC Greensboro, respectively. The metrics didn’t love FAU anyway, even though the Owls brought back most of their Final Four team. But the loss to a 1-3 Bryant team plummeted FAU to No. 50 on KenPom. That was too far a bridge to cross for me. Arkansas dropped to No. 29, so that was a closer call. Eric Musselman is working in his usual spate of transfers as well as Trevon Brazile, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL. The Razorbacks host Duke a week from Wednesday. That’s a great opportunity for them to get back in my good graces.

Jeff Goodman: I am with you on both FAU and Arkansas. The Owls were a shocker losing to Bryant, but I think they will get back into the Top 25 once Alijah Martin gets to 100%. As for the Razorbacks, I worry about their perimeter shooting — but it also takes time for Muss to get his team together. I also bounced Villanova following its loss to Penn. 

Seth Davis: I also dropped Texas seven spots following its great escape against Louisville. The Cardinals have been so bad, it’s hard to imagine that a ranked team almost lost to them. Yes, Texas is still without Dylan Disu, but there’s no indication he’s coming back soon. They are who they are, which is still pretty good.

Jeff Goodman: I never had the Longhorns in the Top 25 to begin with, and as good as the Cardinals looked in that game, Texas was abysmal. They don’t warrant inclusion after that performance. 

Seth Davis: USC lost to UC Irvine on Tuesday, but I didn’t drop the Trojans because they were playing without starting guards Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson. Both those guys were back for Sunday’s game against Brown, and the Trojans prevailed, 81-70.

Jeff Goodman: There’s only one unbeaten team left that hasn’t played a single home game: Princeton. The Tigers made the Sweet 16 last season after beating Arizona and Missouri, and I put them at No. 25 after wins over Rutgers, Hofstra, Duquesne and Monmouth. Starters Matt Alloco and Caden Pierce are back from last year’s team as are key reserves Xaivian Lee and Blake Peters.

Seth Davis: I haven’t checked, but I would bet that no voter in either poll has UCLA ranked higher than I do. We’re about to find out how right or wrong I am as the Bruins are in Honolulu for the Maui Invitational. Mick Cronin is working in so many new guys — including 6-foot-9 Turkish freshman Berke Buyuktuncel, who just got cleared to play on Saturday — that they’ll probably take their lumps this week. But trust me, UCLA has a ton of talent. If they stay healthy, it’s only a matter of time before they start creeping up the polls again.

Jeff Goodman: The team I moved up the most, even after a loss, was Kentucky. The ’Cats deserve it after playing Kansas so closely on a neutral court. Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard were both terrific, and UK showed a toughness and maturity that was surprising from a team with so much inexperience. 

Seth Davis: I leaned heavily on KenPom to fill out the bottom of my ballot. We still don’t know how good most teams are. So I included Iowa State (No. 13 on KenPom), Kentucky (14), and BYU (15). Auburn (16), Virginia (20), Colorado (23) and TCU (24) just missed my cut.

Jeff Goodman: I don’t look at Kenny Pom Poms when I fill out my ballot. Maybe that’ll change if Kenny gives me a free membership, but I highly doubt it.

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