Kelvin Sampson

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Farewell, Purdue. I stuck with the Boilermakers after their loss to Indiana. But Matt Painter’s team forced me to shake my AP Top 25 men’s college basketball poll ballot after they lost to Northwestern Sunday.

That left two choices — Alabama and Houston.

There is no right answer. Considering Houston was second in the poll last week and earned 22 first-place votes, chances are the Cougars will return to the top.

Just not on my ballot. Alabama is unbeaten in the Southeastern Conference and also defeated Kelvin Sampson’s team in Houston.

Tough to top that — at least with me.

1. Alabama (22-3) — The Crimson Tide still have to visit Tennessee and Texas A&M, but it’s OK to start the discussion about an unbeaten SEC champion.

2. Houston (23-2) — Kelvin Sampson’s squad has two games with Memphis ahead. Other than that, it’s strictly cruise control for the Cougars, who will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

3. Purdue —The Boilermakers rely on two freshmen guards — and they were shaky in losses against Indiana and Northwestern.

4. UCLA (21-4) — The Bruins have opened a 2-game lead in the Pac-12 — and get Arizona in Pauley Pavilion on the final weekend of the regular season. Smile, Bill Walton.

5. Virginia (19-4) — The Cavaliers have finally overtaken fading Clemson and should hold off Pittsburgh to win the ACC regular-season title.

6. Texas (20-5) — Even with the loss at Allen Fieldhouse the Longhorns hold a one-game lead on the Jayhawks in the Big 12.

7. Kansas (20-5) — The Jayhawks have won four of their last five, which isn’t easy in the Big 12.

8. Arizona (22-4) — I still believe in the Wildcats’ talent but I don’t understand how this group lost to Stanford and Washington State. Flashing light.

9. Baylor (19-6) — Impressive Show Me Win at TCU gave the Bears their ninth victory in their last 10 games.

10. Indiana (18-7) — The Hoosiers finally silenced Rutgers and earned their third Big Ten road win — without Race Thompson or Xavier Johnson. They’ll play at Northwestern for second place in the Big Ten Wednesday night. That’s a weird sentence to write.

11. Marquette (20-6) — If the Golden Eagles can handle Xavier in Milwaukee Wednesday, they shouldn’t lose another Big East regular season game.

12. Tennessee (19-6) — I know the Vols were on the wrong end of two buzzer beaters last week, but what are they doing playing one-possession games against Vanderbilt and Missouri?

13. Creighton (17-8) — The Bluejays have won eight straight, surging into second place in the Big East but must play at Providence and St. John’s this week.

14. Gonzaga (21-5) — The Zags had trouble putting BYU away — in Spokane.

15. Xavier (19-6) — Xavier’s stumble against 13-loss Butler Friday was the first time I’d heard about the Butler Way in a while. How about you?

16. Saint Mary’s (22-5) — Loyola Marymount?

17. Illinois (17-7) — The Illini have won eight of their last 10 — and don’t forget they beat UCLA and Texas. I haven’t.

18. Miami (20-5) — The Hurricanes have won four straight but could use a win at North Carolina Monday night.

19. San Diego State (20-5) — The Aztecs have a one-game edge on Steve Alford and Nevada in the Mountain West.

20. Providence (18-7) — The Friars have split their last eight games but five were on the road.

21. UConn (19-7) — The Huskies won three straight against the dregs of the Big East but weren’t good enough to beat Creighton.

22. Texas A&M (18-7) — Have you checked the SEC standings? Buzz Williams and his guys have a 2-game edge on Tennessee for second-place. But they did lose to Murray State, Colorado and Wofford.

23. Northwestern (18-7) — The Wildcats have wins over Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue.

24. Iowa State (16-8) — If you’re scoring at home, the Cyclones are fading the same way they did last season, losing four of five and five of seven and six of nine. I like Iowa State better than Kansas State, which I axed after notint they’ve lost five of seven, have enjoyed four overtime wins and got whipped by Butler.

25. Nevada (20-6) — Steve Alford’s team has won four straight.

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