College basketball rankings: Duke bringing in the new year as the new No. 1

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Villanova lost Saturday. So did Arizona State and Texas A&M. So the top of the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) looks different on this Sunday morning. And the new No. 1 is … Duke.

Let me explain.

The Blue Devils beat Florida State 100-93 on Saturday to improve to 13-1 and record their fourth top-40 KenPom win of the season. And do you know how many other schools have four top-40 KenPom wins right now? Answer: Zero. So you can reasonably argue that Duke currently has better wins than anybody — most notably a neutral-court victory over the Michigan State team that’s likely to move to No. 1 in the AP poll on Monday. But here’s my question: Why?

Why should Michigan State be No. 1?

The Spartans are 13-1 and great, undeniably; it’s why I have them third in the Top 25 (and one). But they only have two top-40 KenPom wins compared to Duke’s four — not to mention Arizona State’s three. And Michigan State’s one loss is an 88-81 neutral-court loss to a Duke team that spent the final 30 minutes of that game without its best player (Marvin Bagley). In other words, Duke has twice as many top-40 wins as Michigan State and a win over Michigan State. So Duke over Michigan State in the Top 25 (and one) makes sense to me. And, yes, I know Duke’s loss at Boston College is worse than Michigan State’s loss to Duke. But the truth is that Boston College, over the past few weeks, has proven to be better than anybody realized back when the Eagles beat Duke earlier this month. They’re now a top-75 KenPom team — one that nearly upset Virginia at Virginia on Saturday. And Michigan State still hasn’t even played, much less beaten, a top-75 KenPom team on the road, for whatever that’s worth.

Moving on …

No, I’m not going to punish Arizona State for losing a close game at Arizona. And I’m not going to punish TCU for losing by one to Oklahoma. And I’m not going to punish Tennessee for losing in overtime at Arkansas. And I’m not going to punish Florida State for losing a close game at Duke. That’s why the Sun Devils are still No. 2, the Horned Frogs are still No. 8, the Vols are still No. 13 and the Seminoles remain No. 19.

The complete Top 25 (and one) is below.

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