Written by AARON BEARD, Writer for the Associated Press covering basketball.
The current top spot in the Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll belongs to Arizona.
The Wildcats have climbed to the top spot in Monday’s ranking, marking the first time in almost nine years. This puts Tommy Lloyd’s team as the third to hold the number one position this season. Purdue, last week’s top-ranked team, dropped down in the rankings after an overtime defeat against Northwestern.
Arizona received 59 out of 63 top votes, resulting in a one spot increase in their ranking. This places the Wildcats comfortably ahead of preseason top-ranked team Kansas. The Jayhawks also moved up three spots to No. 2 after defeating last year’s NCAA champion, Connecticut.
Arizona has not held the top spot in the AP Top 25 rankings since January 2014, when they were ranked No. 1 for eight consecutive weeks under former coach Sean Miller. Currently in his third season as head coach, Lloyd previously served as an assistant at Gonzaga and led his first two teams to multiple weeks in the top five.
“I had a dream of making this program one of the top in the country when I joined, ” Lloyd stated regarding the potential to become No. 1 after a recent victory against Colgate. “Being among the best in the nation means that occasionally, you’ll reach the top spot. So, let’s embrace it and take on the challenge.”
The poll was quite active today as none of the teams in the Top 25 maintained their previous rankings from last week.
Houston moved up three positions to claim the third spot, while the Boilermakers dropped to fourth after their defeat by Northwestern. UConn only fell one rank to fifth after their loss to Kansas, with Baylor following suit.
This season marked the first time that Gonzaga and North Carolina made it into the top 10 rankings.
The Bulldogs jumped four spots to No. 7 after a neutral-court win against USC. The Tar Heels jumped eight spots to No. 9 after beating Tennessee in the ACC/SEC Challenge, followed by a home comeback win against Florida State.
On Monday, the NCAA’s first set of NCAA Evaluation Tool rankings were made public and showed significant differences compared to the AP poll.
Houston held the top spot in the NET rankings, with BYU, Arizona, Creighton, and Purdue following closely behind. Kansas ranked 16th in the NET.
The NET is the main method used to determine which teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
North Carolina’s sudden rise was the most significant change in the rankings this week. However, Colorado State’s No. 13 position was also noteworthy as they climbed seven spots thanks to their impressive 8-0 record. Additionally, Oklahoma, who joined the rankings last week, saw a jump of six spots to No. 19.
Fourteen teams moved up in the rankings from last week, with Creighton jumping up five spots to re-enter the top 10 after previously spending three polls at No. 8.
Duke took the biggest tumble of the week of 15 spots to land at No. 22 after a pair of road losses against unranked opponents. First came a loss at Arkansas then a loss at Georgia Tech after starting point guard Tyrese Proctor went down with an early ankle injury.
Miami, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, ranked 15th, 17th, and 21st respectively, all dropped seven positions.
Three new teams have been added to this week’s rankings.
After defeating then third-ranked Marquette on their home court, Wisconsin rose to the 23rd spot in the rankings and extended their winning streak to five games. Clemson also made an appearance at No. 24 after starting their season with seven consecutive wins. San Diego State returned to the poll at No. 25, their first appearance since being ranked 17th in the preseason.
Villanova, Mississippi State, and Alabama dropped out of the poll, ranked at No. 18, No. 21, and No. 23 respectively.
The conference with the most ranked teams was the Big 12, with six teams listed, including Texas at No. 12 and BYU at No. 14.
The ACC had four teams, making it the next highest ranking conference. The Big Ten, Big East, and Southeastern conferences each had three teams. The Mountain West Conference had two ranked teams, while the Pac-12, American Athletic, Sun Belt, and West Coast each had one ranked team.
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