Charlotte moves in, Maryland returns and Illinois still unanimous
New York, NY (Sports Network) – Illinois remained the top-ranked team in the
Associated Press men’s college basketball poll for the 11th straight week and
as the lone undefeated team in Division I was a unanimous choice for the third
week in a row.
Meanwhile, Charlotte and Maryland moved into the rankings, replacing Big 12
members Texas and Texas Tech.
The Fighting Illini (25-0) received all 72 first-place votes and a total of
1,800 points from the national media panel. Illinois won a pair of games last
week, posting a six-point victory at Michigan before taking an 11-point
decision against Wisconsin.
Charlotte’s entrance at No. 23 is the school’s first ranking since the last
week of the 1998-99 regular season. The 49ers (17-4) have won three in a row,
including a 91-90 win against Cincinnati two Saturdays ago, and share second
place in Conference USA at 8-2 with DePaul — both a half-game behind
Maryland (15-7) moved back into the rankings at No. 22 after its thrilling
99-92 overtime win against Duke on Saturday. The Terrapins took both games
from Duke this season and are hoping to avoid the let-down they suffered the
last time they beat Blue Devils, having followed the win at Cameron Indoor
Stadium on January 26 with a victory against Georgia Tech before losses at
Clemson and Miami-Florida.
After Illinois, Kansas (20-1) moved up a spot to second and Kentucky (19-2)
jumped two places to third. North Carolina (20-3), which dropped a one-point
decision at Duke last week and followed it up with a strong win at Connecticut
on Sunday, fell from second to fourth. Wake Forest (21-3) moved up one spot to
Boston College (20-1) fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last Tuesday with a
loss at Notre Dame in its lone game of the week. The Big East-leading Eagles
had the weekend off and dropped from fourth to sixth.
Duke, Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Arizona round out the top 10.
Michigan State is 11th, followed by Louisville, Gonzaga, Utah, Washington,
Alabama, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Pacific and Wisconsin.
Louisville dropped three spots from ninth to 12th after suffering a 17-point
home loss to Memphis last week, while Washington fell four spots to 15th
following a 17-point loss at Oregon State on Sunday.
Pacific, which made its first-ever poll appearance last week at No. 24, had
the biggest move of the week with a jump five spots. The Tigers, who own a 16-
game winning streak, nearly had a short stay in the rankings, but rallied from
a seven-point deficit in the final 26 seconds to win at Utah State on
Oklahoma, despite a three-game losing streak and four losses in its last five
games, remained in the poll but fell from 16th to 21st. Maryland, Charlotte,
Cincinnati and Villanova complete the rankings. Cincinnati has also struggled
of late, with three losses in four games, while Villanova kept its poll
presence despite a 15-point home loss to Syracuse on Saturday.
Texas, ranked 23rd last week, fell out of the poll despite an overtime win
against Kansas State on Saturday that stopped a three-game losing streak.
Texas Tech joined the rankings last week at No. 25, but an 81-68 loss at Iowa
State on Saturday left the Red Raiders out.
The Big 12 now has three ranked teams after tying the Big East for the most in
the poll with five last week. The Atlantic Coast Conference now has four
ranked teams, just behind the Big East’s five.
The Big East has three games this week featuring top-25 teams against each
other. Syracuse continues its brutal stretch of playing five ranked teams in a
six-game stretch with a visit from Pittsburgh on Monday and road game at
Boston College on Saturday. After its trip to the Carrier Dome, Pittsburgh
will head to Villanova on Sunday.
The only other game featuring two ranked teams puts Wake Forest at Duke on