No Change At Top Of AP Rankings

Feb. 13, 2006

The giant killer is now among college basketball's big names.

Bucknell, the Patriot League school that has beaten some of the country's premier programs the last two seasons, joined The Associated Press' Top 25 for the first time Monday.

"This is so neat for the school and everything like that. I won't play it down because it's wonderful for people to have that kind of respect for our program," Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said. "At the same time, we have the kind of kids who can take it in stride to be ranked among that company."

Bucknell (20-3) moved into the poll at No. 24, two spots below another newcomer used to being among the ranked. Kansas (17-6), one of the big-time programs the Bison beat last season, entered for the first time this season at No. 22.

Connecticut (22-1) was a runaway No. 1 for the fourth straight week and the next five teams held their positions in the rankings, but it was Bucknell that drew the attention.

The Bison beat Pittsburgh and Saint Joseph's last season before shocking Kansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the first win for a Patriot League team. They didn't miss a beat this season, winning at Syracuse.

"I think going to Pitt and winning and Saint Joe's got the ball rolling and as we went along we got confidence," Flannery said.

The Bison have won 11 straight since losing two straight on the road to Santa Clara and then-No. 1 Duke. Their other loss this season was to No. 4 Villanova.

"Our place is filled every night and buses come with us on the road," Flannery said. "This has created such excitement and as long as we take it in stride, we have some size and some handlers, the components to be able to compete with people."

The Bison play at Lafayette on Wednesday and at Northern Iowa, another school which entered the poll for the first time this season, on Saturday in a Bracket Buster game.

"It is a big game in a sense of being a TV game that's big for our conferences, but first we have a league game that's huge," Flannery said. "Then we'll be on a national scale and it will give people a chance to see us again and for us to put our best foot forward."

Kansas, which has won seven straight and 14 of 16, lost three seniors from the team that was ranked No. 1 last season before losing to Bucknell as a No. 3 seed. The Jayhawks, led by freshmen Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers, lost four of their first seven games in a tough early schedule.

"I don't think any coach wants to get off to the start we did," Kansas' Bill Self said Monday, hours before the Jayhawks played at Oklahoma State. "We weren't mature enough to go to Maui. We didn't know enough about ourselves and then lost a couple more when we came back home.

"Looking back now if those young kids had had a lot of success early they wouldn't have been tough enough to sustain what they have. The one blessing is what we went through helped this team get where it is now."

Kansas had been in the preseason poll every year since 1991, and was out of the top 10 only three times in that span. The Jayhawks had the second-longest streak for consecutive poll appearances to Duke, a run of 93 polls dating to the preseason poll of 2000-01.

Self wasn't sure how this team would react to returning to the Top 25.

"I don't know because everything with this team is new," he said. "So far they used our nonranking as a motivation. It hasn't affected them any way but positively."

Connecticut received 67 first-place votes and 1,795 points from the national media panel. Duke (23-1) was second with four No. 1 votes and 1,635 points. Memphis was third and Villanova, which hosted Connecticut on Monday night, received the only other first-place vote.

Gonzaga and Texas remained fifth and sixth, respectively, while George Washington moved up one place to seventh. Tennessee jumped three spots to eighth and was followed by Pittsburgh and Florida.

West Virginia, which lost to Pittsburgh and beat Georgetown last week, dropped from No. 9 to 11 and was followed by Ohio State, Boston College, Illinois, UCLA, Michigan State, Georgetown, Iowa, Oklahoma and Washington.

The last five ranked teams were North Carolina State, Kansas, North Carolina, Bucknell and LSU.

The other newcomer this week was LSU (16-7), which was ranked for one week twice this season. The Tigers come in having lost two of three, the most recent loss at Florida on Saturday.

Michigan (16-6) dropped out from 22nd having lost three straight including losses last week to Ohio State and Purdue.

Indiana (13-8), which had been ranked all season and got as high as No. 9, dropped out from 24th after losses last week to Wisconsin and Iowa. Northern Iowa (21-5) fell from 25th after losing at home to Missouri State on Saturday.

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 February 12, 2006)
    TEAM                                   PTS   PVS
    ----                                   ---   ---
 1. CONNECTICUT (67) (22-1)              1,795     1
 2. DUKE (4) (23-1)                      1,726     2
 3. MEMPHIS (22-2)                       1,635     3
 4. VILLANOVA (1) (19-2)                 1,581     4
 5. GONZAGA (20-3)                       1,502     5
 6. TEXAS (21-3)                         1,457     6
 7. GEO WASHINGTON (20-1)                1,259     8
 8. TENNESSEE (18-3)                     1,218    11
 9. PITTSBURGH (19-3)                    1,177    14
10. FLORIDA (21-3)                       1,157     7
11. WEST VIRGINIA (18-5)                 1,103     9
12. OHIO ST (18-3)                         953    19
13. BOSTON COLLEGE (19-5)                  836    17
14. ILLINOIS (20-4)                        825    10
15. UCLA (20-5)                            709    13
16. MICHIGAN ST (18-6)                     679    12
17. GEORGETOWN (17-5)                      674    15
18. IOWA (19-6)                            596    18
19. OKLAHOMA (16-5)                        471    20
20. WASHINGTON (18-5)                      459    21
21. NC STATE (19-5)                        435    16
22. KANSAS (17-6)                          297    NR
23. NORTH CAROLINA (15-6)                  291    23
24. BUCKNELL (20-3)                        133    NR
25. LSU (16-7)                              68    NR
Dropped Out: No. 22 MICHIGAN, No. 24 INDIANA, No. 25
Others Receiving Votes: CALIFORNIA 67, NORTHERN IOWA 61,



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