World-Herald staff writer Jon Nyatawa submits a ballot each Monday for the AP Top 25 poll. He has a new No. 1 team this week following Duke's loss to North Carolina.

The morning of LSU’s showdown against Tennessee, the Tigers found out their starting point guard, Tremont Waters, was too sick to play. Yet LSU won.

Michigan State played once last week without top big man Nick Ward, but that was against Rutgers. Sunday at Michigan was its first real test. And the Spartans won.

One of the biggest stories of the season emerged last week when national player of the year candidate Zion Williamson stepped through his shoe and injured a knee during a loss to North Carolina. He wasn’t in Duke’s lineup Saturday, but the Blue Devils won at Syracuse.

Kentucky crushed Auburn without starter Reid Travis. Baylor has been winning without Tristan Clark and a couple other injured players. Gonzaga has handled things just fine without Killian Tillie.

What’s this mean?

Probably not a lot, except that good teams can find a way to make adjustments and triumph through temporary setbacks. And maybe we tend to overrate the impact of one single player in a 40-minute game.

But it's still notable, especially with March around the corner. Because you can’t make a deep NCAA tournament run if you don’t know how to win in spite of adversity.

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My Top 25 rankings this week:

1. Virginia (last week: 2)

2. Gonzaga (4)

3. Duke (1)

4. Kentucky (5)

5. Tennessee (3)

6. North Carolina (8)

7. Houston (7)

8. Michigan State (12)

9. Michigan (6)

10. Texas Tech (11)

11. Marquette (10)

12. Purdue (15)

13. Nevada (9)

14. Florida State (13)

15. LSU (16)

16. Kansas State (19)

17. Kansas (17)

18. Maryland (25)

19. Baylor (NR)

20. Iowa State (14)

21. Louisville (18)

22. Virginia Tech (21)

23. Buffalo (23)

24. Wisconsin (24)

25. Iowa (22)

Next 10 considered: Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Wofford, Villanova, Syracuse, NC State, Washington, St. John’s, TCU, Auburn

Dropped out

20. Villanova: The Wildcats lost road games at Georgetown and at Xavier last week. They’ve dropped three in a row and four of their last five. It’s largely the result of a shooting slump. Villanova has made 30.1 percent of its 3-pointers in February.


» Baylor clearly is not the same team that lost to Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin in nonconference. And it’s difficult to even assess those defeats when evaluating this squad today. The Bears swept Iowa State and Oklahoma. They picked up a win over Texas Tech. They’re tied for third in the Big 12. New Baylor is legit.

» Louisville remains ranked despite losing four of its last five games. But two of those defeats came on the road — at Syracuse and in overtime at Florida State. The two other losses featured glimpses of the Cardinals' potential. But they ultimately collapsed late, blowing a 23-point lead against Duke over the final nine minutes and losing a 12-point, second-half lead against Virginia. I’ll keep giving them some credit, for now.

» Texas Tech has won five games in a row. It’s produced a defensive points per possession rate of 0.842 in those wins. Data analyst Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric (which accounts for schedule strength) has the Red Raiders on pace to be the best defensive team in five years.

» Virginia, North Carolina and Duke are all tied at 12-2 in ACC play. They’re a combined 32-2 against the rest of the league.