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AP Top 25 Rankings: How do #1 Villanova and #2 Virginia compare?

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers are ranked #2 in the latest AP Poll, the team’s highest rank since 2015. UVA even received one first place vote from the 65 AP pollsters. #1 Villanova received 63 of the other votes along with 2-loss Purdue picking up a vote as well. The Hoos have not been ranked #1 since Ralph Sampson was on the team back in 1983. To achieve that #1 AP ranking, Virginia will likely need to keep winning until Villanova drops a game. (UVA and Villanova both have 2 relatively winnable road games this week.) But how close has the performance of the two squads been? Does UVA have an argument for the top spot? Let’s compare the teams:

The first place to look to compare two teams can be their computer rankings. KenPom, RPI, and ESPN’s BPI are some of the more well known rating systems while there are others like Sagarin and KPI that can be useful as well. Here is how the teams stack up.

Rankings Comparison

Ranking Virginia Villanova
Ranking Virginia Villanova
KenPom 3 1
RPI 2 3
BPI 3 1
KPI 7 1
Sagarin 3 2

The Cavaliers have a higher RPI ranking, but the Wildcats are ranked higher everywhere else. Massey Ratings does a composite of 31 rankings around the college basketball world and Villanova is ahead of UVA in 28 of them.

What about looking at the two teams overall wins and losses? Villanova has three wins over currently ranked teams compared to only one for the Hoos. However, the Wildcats loss was at a currently unranked Butler team, while Virginia’s lone loss was at #6 West Virginia. Below is a breakdown of Villanova and Virginia’s top wins by KenPom and RPI ranks.

Wins Breakdown

Top Wins Virginia Villanova
Top Wins Virginia Villanova
KenPom Top 25 Wins 1 3
KenPom Top 50 Wins 4 4
KenPom Top 75 Wins 6 5
KenPom Top 100 Wins 9 7
KenPom Top 125 Wins 11 8
RPI Top 25 Wins 2 2
RPI Top 50 Wins 3 4
RPI Top 75 Wins 6 7
RPI Top 100 Wins 7 8
RPI Top 125 Wins 8 8

UVA has more top #100 KenPom wins while the Wildcats have more top #100 RPI wins. Even the overall strength of schedules are split with KenPom giving the edge to Villanova (#12 to #63) while RPI has Virginia higher (#40 to #46).

Both teams have been blowing out opponents with the Hoos having more double digit wins (13 to the Wildcats 12) and wins by 20 or more (8 to 7). Virginia has been leading in 83% of the minutes they have played so far this season and never trailed at all in seven games. Villanova likewise never trailed in seven of their games and like UVA has only trailed in the second of half in three games.

Both 16-1 teams have been dominant on the season so far with solid wins and a tough road loss. Should UVA be #1? Should the Hoos get more first place votes? What do you think?