NCAAB: Penn State, Marquette soar in latest AP Top 25 poll
The top of the college basketball AP poll is beginning to stabilize, while the bottom half has fluctuated with uncertainty.
With Selection Sunday a month away, let’s break down the biggest risers and fallers in the AP Top 25.
Penn State Nittany Lions: up nine spots to No. 13
Penn State is on a rapid ascent, after seven straight wins, including victories against then-No. 21 Ohio State and at No. 16 Michigan State.
The Big Ten squad has bounced back since three consecutive losses in January and sits at second in its conference. Senior forward Lamar Stevens (17.5 points per game) has been a key part of Penn State’s recent success. The Wooden Award contender (+5000) led his team in scoring in five of the past seven games, including a 33-point outing against Minnesota on Saturday.
Penn State is a +5000 longshot to win the school’s first NCAA championship and will face Northwestern on Saturday, before No. 22 Illinois at home and No. 21 Iowa at the end of the month.
Marquette Golden Eagles: unranked to No. 18
Marquette knocked off its second ranked opponent of the year Sunday to crack the Top 25 for the first time this season.
The Golden Eagles (+6000 to win the NCAA tournament) downed then-No. 19 Butler at home, 76-57, as payback for an overtime loss to the Bulldogs in late January. Steve Wojciechowski’s squad is 17-6 and second in the Big East, but that soon could change with the upcoming schedule.
The team will visit No. 15 Villanova on Wednesday, then confront No. 23 Creighton and Providence, which beat Marquette 81-80 in overtime Jan. 7. No. 10 Seton Hall is also up in February and defeated the Golden Eagles, 69-55, Jan. 11.
Villanova Wildcats: down five spots to No. 15
The Wildcats climbed as high as eighth in the AP poll but continue on a downward spiral following Saturday’s third consecutive loss.
Seton Hall edged out Villanova, 70-64, at home, one game after Butler beat the Wildcats by three in Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Wildcats meet Marquette on Wednesday, then hit the road for Temple, DePaul, and Xavier.
Villanova is still a +2500 shot to earn the NCAA title. Coach Jay Wright should be able to get his team in gear right before March, especially with mostly weaker conference competition on the remaining schedule.
LSU Tigers: down seven spots to No. 25
The 18-6 Tigers dropped two straight last week and are barely hanging on in the Top 25. Despite scoring 90 in both contests, it wasn’t enough to get past Vanderbilt on the road or then-No. 11 Auburn in overtime.
LSU is currently tied for first in the SEC with No. 12 Kentucky. The Wildcats are the toughest opponent left on LSU’s schedule and head to the Bayou on Feb. 18.
The Tigers (+7500) found a win against Missouri, 82-78, at home Tuesday. They travel to 13-10 Alabama ahead of next Tuesday’s matchup against Kentucky. The Tigers defeated UK, 73-71, on the road last season.