Kansas basketball jumps six spots to No. 17 in latest AP poll

photo by: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) shoots against Texas Tech guard Kyler Edwards (11) and guard Mac McClung (0) during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 20, 2021. Photo by Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

Riding a five-game winning streak into the final week of the regular season, the Kansas men’s basketball team jumped six spots to No. 17 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25.

KU (17-7 overall, 11-5 Big 12) is ranked just ahead of No. 18 Texas Tech, which the Jayhawks knocked off, 67-61 at Allen Fieldhouse over the weekend, to secure the season sweep of the Red Raiders (14-7, 6-6).

Kansas is now up 16 spots from its low point of the season, which came after the Jayhawks fell out of the AP poll for the first time in an NCAA-record 231 consecutive weeks.

The Jayhawks are facing the opportunity to climb even higher if they’re able to find success this week against either No. 14 Texas (8 p.m. Tuesday night in Austin) or No. 2 Baylor, which is slated to come to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Asked for his view about what’s at stake during the final week of the regular season, Kansas coach Bill Self needed just one word to answer.

“Seeding,” Self said. “For the NCAA Tournament. And also positioning for the Big 12. You know, it’d be nice to be able to say we finished second in our league.

“It’s a very difficult road to do that,” Self added. “But we can kind of control our own destiny on that, so to speak, and I guess OU and West Virginia do, as well. But we probably have the toughest road, without question, that anybody has, but we’ve also played the most games.”

In all, six Big 12 teams are ranked in this week’s poll, with Baylor leading the way, followed by No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 10 West Virginia and then Texas, Kansas and Texas Tech.

Oklahoma State is on the brink of being ranked again, sitting at No. 26 as the top team receiving votes.

The Jayhawks have played 11 games this season against the current AP Top 25 and own a 5-6 record in those matchups.

The top five spots in this week’s poll remained the same, with Gonzaga (22-0) and Baylor (17-0) in the top two spots and No. 3 Michigan (16-1) maintaining its hold on No. 3 after knocking off No. 4 Ohio State on Sunday.

Despite the loss, the Buckeyes (18-5) stayed in the No. 4 spot and Illinois (16-5) held strong at No. 5.

Alabama, Oklahoma, Villanova, Iowa and West Virginia round out this week’s Top 10.

In other rankings news, the Jayhawks are up to No. 16 in the NET rankings, which is used as an evaluation tool for the selection committee as it puts together the NCAA Tournament bracket.

KU’s current standing in the NET would indicate that the Jayhawks are in line to be a top four seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament. But with two games against Top 15 foes on the docket this week, plus the Big 12 tournament to follow, there is still a lot of time for KU to either move up or down.

KU’s strength of schedule and number of quality games and quality wins (5-7 vs. Quadrant 1 teams) has the Jayhawks on solid ground, despite the rough stretch they battled through in January.

Here’s a look at this week’s complete AP poll:

1 – Gonzaga, 22-0, 1,596 (60)

2 – Baylor, 17-0, 1,540 (4)

3 – Michigan, 16-1, 1,472

4 – Ohio State, 18-5, 1,370

5 – Illinois, 16-5, 1,356

6 – Alabama, 18-5, 1,196

7 – Oklahoma, 14-5, 1,150

8 – Villanova, 14-3, 1,132

9 – Iowa, 17-6, 1,088

10 – West Virginia, 15-6, 1,014

11 – Florida State, 13-3, 967

12 – Houston, 18-3, 921

13 – Creighton, 16-5, 836

14 – Texas, 13-6, 730

15 – Virginia, 15-5, 690

16 – Virginia Tech, 14-4, 545

17 – Kansas, 17-7, 532

18 – Texas Tech, 14-7, 477

19 – USC, 18-4, 423

20 – Arkansas, 17-5, 346

21 – Loyola Chicago, 19-4, 288

22 – San Diego State, 17-4, 222

23 – Wisconsin, 16-8, 200

24 – Missouri, 14-6, 149

25 – Tennessee, 15-6, 145

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma State 92, Belmont 80, Purdue 53, Oregon 53, LSU 32, BYU 19, Drake 19, UCLA 17, Clemson 13, Colorado 8, North Carolina 6, Wichita State 6, Boise State 5, Toledo 4, UC Santa Barbara 2, Western Kentucky 2, Winthrop 2, Xavier 2.


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