Bulldogs Remain 8th In AP Top 25
Jan. 2, 2006
Another great start by Pittsburgh has the Panthers in the Top 25. A great weekend by Arizona has the Wildcats ranked again.
Pittsburgh, off to a third undefeated run in as many seasons under coach Jamie Dixon, moved into The Associated Press' men's basketball poll at No. 22 on Monday.
Arizona, which swept its Pac-10 weekend in Washington, returned to the rankings at No. 21 after a two-week absence that broke the longest regular-season run in poll history.
Duke (12-0) stayed No. 1 for the ninth straight week with Connecticut and Villanova remaining second and third for the fourth straight poll. Memphis, Florida and Illinois held the fourth through sixth spots for a third straight week.
Michigan State, Gonzaga, Louisville and Washington rounded out the Top Ten.
The Panthers (11-0) are somewhat of a surprise with three freshmen playing key roles, especially up front. Their 73-64 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday knocked the Badgers out from No. 24 and made Dixon 27-0 in December as a head coach. The Panthers started 18-0 in his first season and 10-0 in 2004-05.
"We've been pretty good in all the months, but I guess that one stands out," Dixon said Monday. "We had a lot of confidence in the freshmen, but I am surprised at how well they have played defensively. That's always the toughest thing for freshmen and they still have a long way to go."
Pittsburgh was ranked for all but the final poll last season, and that team finished 20-9 and lost three starters up front.
"Our whole thing has been to continue to improve," Dixon said. "Not a lot was expected of these guys by people but they have been gaining confidence and we're continuing to improve."
Arizona (9-3) can now chase its own record streak for regular-season poll appearances. When the Wildcats dropped out two weeks ago, a run that started at the beginning of the 1987-88 season ended at 312 consecutive regular-season polls - 329 of 331 including preseason Top 25s. The non-preseason streak was 105 weeks longer than the next best, UCLA's 207 from 1966-80.
"I'm happy that we moved up and can start a new streak," Arizona coach Lute Olson said Monday before planting his tongue firmly in his cheek. "After winning our last three road games at Utah by 30 and at Washington State and Washington this past weekend, I wasn't sure if that was going to happen. I'm relieved to be back in the poll."
The Wildcats' losses were to Connecticut and Michigan State in the Maui Invitational and at Houston. They not only swept the two games in Washington, their 96-95 double-overtime win in Seattle snapped the nation's longest home winning streak at 32 games. The big win over Utah ended the Utes' home-winning streak at 21 games, the fifth-longest in the country.
Duke, which beat North Carolina-Greensboro 102-69 in its only game last week, received 63 first-place votes and 1,789 points from the 72-member national media panel.
Connecticut (11-0) was No. 1 on seven ballots and had 1,727 points. Villanova (9-0) received the other two first-place votes.
Boston College moved up two places to 11th and was followed by Oklahoma, North Carolina State, Maryland, Texas, Indiana, UCLA, Ohio State, Kentucky and George Washington.
The last five ranked teams were Arizona, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, West Virginia and North Carolina.
Besides Wisconsin (10-2), Nevada was the other team to fall out of the poll this week, dropping from 20th. The Wolf Pack (10-2), who lost 89-80 at Saint Mary's, Calif., on Saturday, were No. 22 in the preseason and got as high as 17th four weeks ago. Nevada's other loss was to UCLA.
North Carolina State's 79-58 victory over George Washington on Friday caused the week's biggest rise and fall. The Wolfpack (11-1) moved from 19th to No. 13 with the win, while the Colonials (8-1) fell from 12th to No. 20.
There are two Top 10 conference matchups on Thursday. No. 3 Villanova is at No. 9 Louisville in the Big East, while No. 7 Michigan State is at No. 6 Illinois in the Big Ten.
The Associated Press Top 25 college basketball poll, with number of first-place votes and record in parentheses, total points and previous ranking: (Records through January 1, 2006) TEAM PTS PVS ---- --- --- 1. DUKE (63) (12-0) 1,789 1 2. CONNECTICUT (7) (11-0) 1,727 2 3. VILLANOVA (2) (9-0) 1,664 3 4. MEMPHIS (11-1) 1,554 4 5. FLORIDA (12-0) 1,475 5 6. ILLINOIS (14-0) 1,449 6 7. MICHIGAN ST (12-2) 1,305 9 8. GONZAGA (10-3) 1,235 8 9. LOUISVILLE (11-1) 1,144 10 10. WASHINGTON (11-1) 1,057 7 11. BOSTON COLLEGE (10-2) 999 13 12. OKLAHOMA (8-2) 826 14 13. NC STATE (11-1) 812 19 14. MARYLAND (10-2) 793 16 15. TEXAS (10-2) 778 15 16. INDIANA (8-2) 679 17 17. UCLA (11-2) 615 11 18. OHIO ST (10-0) 585 21 19. KENTUCKY (9-3) 572 18 20. GEO WASHINGTON (8-1) 512 12 21. ARIZONA (9-3) 367 NR 22. PITTSBURGH (11-0) 360 NR 23. WAKE FOREST (10-2) 298 22 24. WEST VIRGINIA (8-3) 195 25 25. NORTH CAROLINA (7-2) 171 23 Dropped Out: No. 20 NEVADA, No. 24 WISCONSIN Others Receiving Votes: NEVADA 114, SYRACUSE 52, WISCONSIN 48, IOWA 47, CINCINNATI 38, TENNESSEE 36, OKLAHOMA ST 14, NORTHERN IOWA 13, VANDERBILT 13, BUCKNELL 11, MICHIGAN 9, WICHITA ST 7, AIR FORCE 6, BUFFALO 6, COLORADO 6, ARKANSAS 4, TEXAS A&M 4, INDIANA ST 3, IOWA ST 3, CALIFORNIA 2, XAVIER 2, UAB 1.
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