The Washington Times - November 24, 2008, 09:10AM

When the AP basketball poll is released later today, the first team everyone should go looking for is UCLA. Then, maybe Xavier and Memphis.

But UCLA is the biggie. The Bruins are loaded with talent, but have squeezed by Miami (Ohio) at home and lost to Michigan on a neutral floor when they had plenty of time to prepare.

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Three other teams in my top 35 already own losses. Miami fell to a superior Connecticut team on a neutral floor in a tournament setting. Memphis fell to what is probably a comparable Xavier team on a neutral floor in a tournament setting. And Davidson lost at Oklahoma, though Stephen Curry did everything possible to prevent it.

UCLA took the most severe tumble of the four, falling 15 spots on this ballot. But it’s early, and these rankings remain pure guesswork without a larger sample to work with.

Even so, here’s a 45-team rundown, with plenty of random darts at the end included more for the sake of monitoring than anything else:

1. North Carolina (3-0)
2. Louisville (2-0)
3. Connecticut (4-0)
4. Pittsburgh (4-0)     
5. Texas (2-0)
6. Duke (6-0)
7. Michigan State (2-0)
8. Tennessee (3-0)
9. Gonzaga (2-0)
10. Oklahoma (4-0)
11. Notre Dame (2-0)
12. Purdue (4-0)
13. Arizona State (2-0)
14. Florida (3-0)
15. Xavier (5-0)
16. UNLV (4-0)
17. Villanova (3-0)
18. Memphis (4-1)
19. Georgetown (2-0)
20. Wisconsin (4-0)
21. UCLA (3-1)
22. Miami (2-1)
23. Saint Mary’s (2-0)
24. Syracuse (3-0)
25. Baylor (3-0)

26. Marquette (3-0)
27. Davidson (3-1)
28. Clemson (4-0)
29. Wake Forest (2-0)
30. UAB (4-0)
31. Kansas (2-0)
32. Siena (2-0)
33. Ohio State (1-0)
34. Brigham Young (5-0)
35. Creighton (3-0)
36. West Virginia (2-0)
37. Michigan (3-1)
38. Illinois State (4-0)
39. Washington State (3-0)
40. Temple (3-1)
41. Texas A&M (3-0)
42. Kent State (3-0)
43. Louisiana State (3-0)
44. Illinois (4-0)
45. Missouri (4-1)

Patrick Stevens