Purdue is back on top of the AP Top 25 this week, but the team it replaced will still be in the spotlight this week.
Kansas, the preseason No. 1, will return from the loaded Maui Invitational and attempt to pick up another marquee win when the fifth-ranked Jayhawks play defending national champion and fourth-ranked UConn on Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
Rarely do top programs play each other on college campuses these days, opting instead for easy matchups against the likes of Eastern Illinois, which the Jayhawks played Tuesday night. The big-time showdowns have been increasingly pushed onto neutral floors in lucrative made-for-TV tournaments and events, such as the Maui Invitational, where the Jayhawks lost to fourth-ranked Marquette in the semifinals before rebounding to beat No. 10 Tennessee in the third-place game.
“Whenever you play a tournament, exempt tournament, everybody wants to go into it thinking 3-0. In this field, I guarantee you all the coaches were thinking 2-1’s a good trip,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team also was tested on an a neutral floor when it beat No. 12 Kentucky in Chicago. ”I don’t think there’s anybody's walking away saying 2-1 was not a success."
The revamped Huskies have been tested this season, too, picking up wins over Indiana and No. 16 Texas to win the Saatva Empire Classic in New York earlier this month. But the real tough stretch for coach Dan Hurley's team is just beginning.
UConn plays the Jayhawks on Friday night, then returns to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 5 to play No. 17 North Carolina in the Jimmy V Classic. After a breather against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Huskies play No. 11 Gonzaga on Dec. 15 in the Continental Tire Tipoff, then begin a brutal race in the Big East — the league had four teams in the Top 25 this week.
The marquee matchup in the showdown between the ACC and SEC was Tuesday night, when eighth-ranked Miami travels to No. 12 Kentucky, while No. 23 Alabama played Clemson.
The event continues on Wednesday, when No. 11 Tennessee visits No. 17 North Carolina, No. 14 Texas A&M visits Virginia and seventh-ranked Duke heads to Arkansas, which dropped out of the Top 25 this week.
BIG EAST-BIG 12 BATTLE
Kansas and UConn take center stage in the event pitting arguably the premier leagues in college basketball this season. But the same night they play at the Phog, Big 12 newcomer and sixth-ranked Houston travels to Xavier for an intriguing matchup.
No. 15 Creighton, which fell from the top 10 after its loss to Colorado State last week, visits Oklahoma State on Thursday night.
As leagues get bigger, conference play is beginning sooner. Top-ranked Purdue, fresh off three wins over top-11 teams in Maui, opens Big Ten play on Friday night at Northwestern, while No. 24 Illinois heads to Rutgers on Saturday.
The ACC also gets going with Florida State visiting the Tar Heels and No. 7 Duke at Georgia Tech on Saturday.
MORE LAS VEGAS LIGHTS
What has fast become one of the most popular destinations for neutral-floor events has another one next weekend when No. 20 Colorado State plays Washington and No. 11 Gonzaga takes on USC in the Las Vegas Invitational. The Rams are coming off their first win over a top-10 team since 1984 when they beat Creighton for the Hall of Fame Classic title last week.
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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball