Archive for Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Connecticut reclaims top spot in poll

March 7, 2006

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Connecticut and Villanova, the regular-season co-champions of the Big East, also were the top two teams in the Associated Press' college basketball poll Monday.

The Huskies (27-2) moved to No. 1 for the second time this season. They replaced Duke, which lost twice last week and dropped to third, its lowest ranking of the season.

Connecticut was No. 1 for four weeks until losing to Villanova on Feb. 13. The Huskies fell to third, moved up to second by beating the Wildcats in the rematch, and went back to No. 1 following wins this week over South Florida and Louisville.

Villanova (24-3) matched Connecticut's 14-2 record in the Big East with a victory Sunday at Syracuse. This is the second time Villanova has been No. 2 this season, the highest ranking in school history.

Connecticut received 71 first-place votes and 1,797 points from the 72-member national media panel, while Villanova had 1,720 points.

Duke (27-3), which lost to Florida State and North Carolina last week, was ranked No. 1 for the first 11 polls of the season until losing Jan. 21 at Georgetown. The Blue Devils were No. 2 to Connecticut for four weeks and then went back to No. 1 for the last two weeks. They received the only other first-place vote.

Jason Franchuk of the Provo (Utah) Daily Herald had Duke at No. 1 this week.

"I have not punished a team based on one game all season, and a lot was going on Saturday with (J.J.) Redick and senior night," Franchuk said Monday, referring to the home loss to North Carolina. "I still think they're the number-one team in the country."

The only newcomer to the poll this week was UAB at No. 24. The Blazers, who ended Memphis' 15-game winning streak with an 80-74 victory on Thursday, last were ranked in 1993-94.

Gonzaga moved up one spot to fourth, the highest ranking of the season for the Bulldogs. Memphis dropped two places to fifth following the loss to UAB.

George Washington, which extended its winning streak to 18 games Saturday with a buzzer-beating overtime victory over Charlotte to cap a perfect Atlantic 10 regular season, was sixth. The Colonials (26-1), the only Division I team with one loss this season, were followed by Ohio State, Texas, Illinois and North Carolina.

Boston College moved up one spot to 11th and was followed by Washington, UCLA, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Florida, Kansas University, LSU, West Virginia and Iowa. The last five teams were Nevada, Oklahoma, Georgetown, UAB and North Carolina State.

UAB (22-5) followed the win over Memphis by beating Marshall, its sixth straight victory. The Blazers were ranked for eight weeks in 1993-94, reaching as high as 17th. The school's highest ranking was ninth on Dec. 8, 1981.

Michigan State (20-10) dropped out from 25th after beating Wisconsin and losing to Illinois last week. The Spartans, who were ranked fourth in the preseason poll, have lost four of their last six and are out of the Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of 2003-04.

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