Nate Oats

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Houston could not survive Temple on the Cougars’ homecourt. Kansas is in a two-game funk.

There will be a new No. 1 team when the Associated Press men’s college basketball Top 25 is released Monday at noon.

Purdue, the leader of the Big Ten, and Alabama, the team to beat in the Southeastern Conference, are the leading candidates.

My first take was to go with the Boilermakers. They have lost once — and by a single point to Rutgers. They lead the Big Ten by 2 1/2 games. They have the leading Player of the Year candidate in center Zach Edey. They rank in the top five in offensive and defensive efficiency.

Alabama has a pair of defeats — to UConn by 15 and Gonzaga by 10.

But the Crimson Tide are treating the Southeastern Conference like Joe Burrow treats cornerbacks. They’ve won all seven of their SEC games by at least 11 points.

They have out-of-league wins over Michigan State, North Carolina, Houston and Memphis.

They rank in the Top 13 nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency.

They have the nation’s best freshman in Brandon Miller.

I can’t tell you how others will vote, but the No. 1 team on my ballot was Alabama, which has looked the part this month.

1. Alabama (17-2) — I just noticed the Crimson Tide only play Kentucky and Tennessee once. Regrettable scheduling by the SEC.

2. Purdue (19-1) — The Boilermakers have built a comfortable lead in the Big Ten.

3. Tennessee (16-3) — Yes, I remember what happened when the Vols played Kentucky.

4. Houston (18-2) — Temple?

5. Arizona (17-3) — The Wildcats made USC and UCLA wish they had already bolted for the Big Ten.

6. Kansas (16-3) — There is a legitimate chance the Jayhawks will carry a 3-game losing streak into Rupp Arena Saturday night.

7. Virginia (15-3) — The Cavaliers are not in first place but they are the best team in the ACC.

8. UCLA (17-3) — The Bruins won’t get their payback game against Arizona until the final weekend of the regular season.

9. Kansas State (17-2) — Jerome Tang is the frontrunner for national coach of the year.

10. Texas (16-3) — With Marcus Carr in his 18th season of college basketball, the Longhorns go as he goes.

11. Auburn (16-3) — The Tigers have quietly won five straight.

12. Xavier (16-4) — DePaul?

13. Gonzaga (17-4) — Loyola Marymount?

14. Iowa State (14-4) — The Cyclones two Big 12 losses have been by a basket.

15. Marquette (16-5) — Here comes Shaka Smart.

16. TCU (15-4) — A 23-point win at Kansas?

17. Saint Mary’s (18-4) — The Gaels are actually No. 7 in, which is puzzling.

19. Clemson (16-4) — The Tigers’ next three games are against Georgia Tech, Florida State and Boston College so they should remain atop the ACC for a few more days.

19. Providence (15-5) — Former U of L guard Noah Locke hit 7 threes and scored 29 points for the Friars Saturday.

20. UConn (16-5) — The Huskies buried Butler after losing 5 of 6 and have a Show Me game with Xavier Wednesday.

21. Rutgers (13-6) — The Scarlet Knights are tied with Michigan for second place in the Big Ten.

22. Miami (15-4) — I could be talked out of the Hurricanes, who have lost three of their last five.

23. Charleston (21-1) — The Cougars’ winning streak sits at 20.

24. Kent State (16-3) — The Golden Flashes dominated Ball State in the featured Mid-American Conference game on Friday night. Check their losses — Charleston (by 2); Houston (5); Gonzaga (7), all on the road. They’re legit.

25. Baylor (14-5) — The Bears have won four straight Big 12 games and have wins over UCLA and Gonzaga.

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