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The Dagger

Why Kansas deserves to take the No. 1 spot in the polls on Monday

Kansas guard Ben McLemore (Getty Images)

In the wake of a upset-filled week in which top-ranked Duke was pounded by 27 points, No. 5 Louisville dropped a pair of games to unranked foes and 12 other ranked teams suffered at least one loss, only a few elite teams emerged unscathed.

Three of those are the most likely candidates to take over the top spot in the polls from the Blue Devils on Monday.

The most obvious candidates are the nation's lone one-loss teams, Michigan and Kansas, which both won a pair of games apiece with ease this week. The Wolverines outclassed Purdue in Ann Arbor and Illinois in Champaign, while the Jayhawks turned back Kansas State on the road and Oklahoma in Lawrence.

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If there is a contender for the No. 1 spot among the two-loss powerhouses, it's probably Florida, darlings of the tempo-free statistics crowd.

The Gators haven't beaten too many elite foes and they've suffered narrow losses to Arizona in Tucson and Kansas State in Kansas City, but they've dominated the teams they have beaten in a way nobody else has. Their average margin of victory in six SEC games is 26.5 points, which is part of the reason they're No. 1 in the KenPom rankings and in the top five nationally in both points per possession scored and surrendered.

Florida may very well be the best team in the nation, but the Gators' résumé probably isn't strong enough to inspire many voters to jump them ahead of two teams with one less loss than they have. Wins over Wisconsin, Marquette and Missouri are all credible, but both Michigan and Kansas have a better collection than that, not to mention the Jayhawks have beaten the same Kansas State team on the road that the Gators couldn't handle in Kansas City.

So if the choice for No. 1 comes down to Kansas and Michigan, then my vote would belong to the Jayhawks.

They have a more impressive list of marquee victories. They haven't suffered a loss since mid-November. And they defeated the same Ohio State team in Columbus that handed Michigan its lone loss a month later.

Kansas would be my new No. 1. With West Virginia and Oklahoma State up next this week, let's see if the Jayhawks can hold that top spot any longer than their predecessors.

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