Illinois remains No. 1
New York, NY (Sports Network) – No longer unbeaten, Illinois still remained
the top-ranked team in the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.
The Fighting Illini (29-1) saw their dream of an undefeated season end on
Sunday when Ohio State’s Matt Sylvester drained a three-pointer with 5.1
seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 65-64 victory in Columbus.
Despite the narrow loss, Illinois received 48 first-place votes and 1,725
points from a national media panel to remain the No. 1 team for the 14th
straight week. The Illini had been a unanimous selection each of the past five
North Carolina took away 22 of the Illini’s first-place votes and remained
second in the poll. The Tar Heels (26-3), coming off a thrilling 75-73 win
over Duke that gave them the outright ACC regular-season title and the top
seed in the upcoming conference tournament, trailed Illinois by just 24 total
points in the balloting.
Wake Forest (26-4), also a dramatic winner on Sunday against North Carolina
State with a last-second shot by Chris Paul, moved up one spot to third. Paul,
though, will have to sit out the Demon Deacons’ ACC quarterfinal on Friday
after he was slapped with a one-game suspension for hitting NC State’s Julius
Kentucky (23-4) fell one spot into fourth after dropping a 53-52 decision at
Florida in the closing seconds on Sunday. The Wildcats still earned the SEC
regular-season crown and will be the top seed in the conference tournament.
Duke (22-5), despite the loss at Chapel Hill, moved up one spot to fifth,
giving the ACC three teams in the top five. However, no other ACC teams are
Louisville vaulted three spots to sixth, while Boston College fell two spots
to seventh. The Cardinals captured the Conference USA regular-season title,
while the Eagles earned a share of the Big East crown with a win at Rutgers on
Saturday after their 22-point home loss to Pittsburgh earlier in the week.
Arizona, the Pac-10 regular-season champs, jumped three spots to eighth, while
a pair of Big 12 teams took a tumble. Kansas fell two spots to ninth after a
loss to Missouri on Sunday forced the Jayhawks to share the regular-season
conference crown with Oklahoma, while Oklahoma State dropped two spots to 10th
after Saturday’s home loss to Texas.
Gonzaga, which will play for the West Coast Tournament title on Monday, moved
up a spot to 11th, while Connecticut, which shared the Big East crown with
Boston College, jumped three spots to 12th.
Michigan State, Washington, Utah, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Pacific, Villanova and
Alabama rounded out the second 10. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Nevada
and Charlotte completed the poll, as there were no new teams for the third
Charlotte nearly dropped out, though, and had the biggest fall of the week,
plunging from 18th to 25th after losses to Louisville and South Florida.