|Baylor couldn't hang onto a lead against College of Charleston. (USAToday.com)|
First Colorado handed Baylor a loss, then the College of Charleston did it. Of course, the Bears followed up the Charleston loss by coming one point short of beating Kentucky by double-digits. Out west, UCLA has fallen to Georgetown and Cal Poly. Oklahoma State even walloped North Carolina State, 76-56.
Just like that, four of the most hyped teams in the country have dropped from the Top 25 entirely. The Wildcats' tumble comes after sitting at No. 3 in the preseason polls, and falling from No. 8 to holding the almost-doesn't-count designation of top vote-getter outside of the rankings. UK's most recent vanquishers, Baylor, are now seventh in the waiting line for a national ranking after coming into the season at No. 19, but neither of those teams have fallen the farthest.
N.C. State was originally given the No. 6 spot thanks to the Wolfpack's forceful conference play and a strong showing in the NCAA tournament. Many people wondered whether this might be an optimistic projection by voters longing to introduce a new contender into the Duke-North Carolina scrum that is the perennial pinnacle of ACC action.
Ben Howland's Bruins planned on having a resurgent year, but ran into eligibility trouble before the season even began. Several players have departed before even getting into conference competition, with center Josh Smith being the most recent expatriate. A loss at the hands of San Diego State is completely understandable — the Aztecs are currently ranked No. 23 —but the Hoyas are supposed to be having a down year (although they have taken top-rated Indiana to overtime on a neutral court and eeked out a one-point victory over Tennessee in a 37-36 snoozefest) and Cal Poly is not a traditional national contender.
Questions arose last year over Howland's leadership at UCLA, so perhaps a No. 13 preseason ranking was a tad lofty. John Calipari's newest freshman-heavy squad could have been given too much credit, too. After losing Alec Burks to the NBA then faltering in their inaugural Pac-12 campaign, the Buffaloes were bound to pick up their play and would have to find a big win somewhere — they just happened to play Baylor before encountering an also-falling Murray State team.
As for the Charleston loss? The Bears gained an experience that many teams don't get until single-elimination play in March. Any group of players can beat their opponents on the hardwood on any particular day of the week.
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