Wild week leads to changes across AP Top 25 poll
The stability of The Associated Press Top 25 these past several weeks blew up during a tumultuous week of big victories and upsets.
Kentucky, Division I’s only undefeated team, remained entrenched at No. 1 after two routs. The Wildcats (29-0) were a unanimous choice for the fifth straight week after receiving all 65 first-place votes from a media panel Monday.
Two more weeks on top and Kentucky will become the eighth team and first since UNLV in 1991 to go wire-to-wire in the AP poll. Virginia (27-7) held at No. 2 following two lopsided wins.
Then the fun begins. This was a week in which 15 of the 25 teams from the previous poll lost, including two that lost twice.
Gonzaga and Wisconsin both lost, so the next three teams behind them moved up: Duke one place to No. 3, Villanova and Arizona each up two spots. The Badgers fell to sixth after losing to Maryland and the Bulldogs dropped four spots to No. 7 after losing to BYU.
No. 8 Wichita State moved back into the top 10 after winning its Missouri Valley Conference showdown with Northern Iowa. Kansas dropped a spot to No. 9 after losing to Kansas State.
Maryland’s wins over Wisconsin and Michigan moved the Terrapins into the top 10 for the first time since 2003.
Northern Iowa’s first trip to the top 10 lasted one week; the Panthers were down to No. 11 after the loss to the Shockers. Notre Dame also fell out of the top 10, down three spots to No. 12 after losing to Syracuse.
Despite all the changes, the top seven — in various orders — have remained the same for seven straight weeks. It’s the first time that’s happened since the 1992-93 season, when the top seven held up for eight straight weeks.
Got all that?
And that was just the top 10.
The rest of the poll was just as chaotic, with only three teams holding steady from last week: No. 13 Utah, No. 18 Arkansas and No. 20 West Virginia. All three teams lost.
There’s only two weeks left until the final poll March 16, but with the conference tournaments coming up, quite a few more changes could be on the way.
TERRAPINS’ RISE: A founding member of the ACC, Maryland switched to the Big Ten this season and has quickly established itself among the conference’s best teams.
With their 59-53 win over then-No. 5 Wisconsin and a victory over Michigan last week, the 10th-ranked Terps moved into the top 10 this week for the first time being ranked No. 8 on Feb. 4, 2003.
Maryland (24-5) finished 18-1 at home and was unbeaten there in Big Ten games after beating the Wolverines 66-56 on Saturday.
RACING RACERS: Murray State made a name for itself by climbing to No. 9 in the 2012 AP poll and finishing 12th. The Racers are back in the poll for the first time since then, thanks to a 24-game winning streak.
Murray State (26-4) finished its Ohio Valley Conference season 16-0 and heads into this week’s conference tournament as the No. 1 seed as it tries to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.
RISING AND FALLING: The biggest move was by No. 14 Baylor, which rose five sports after defeating Iowa State and West Virginia. Iowa State had the biggest drop, down five spots to No. 17 after losing to the Bears and Kansas State.
No. 19 North Carolina, like Gonzaga, fell four places after losing to North Carolina State.
IN AND OUT:
Ohio State returned to the poll at No. 23 to join Murray State as this week’s newcomers.
VCU dropped out from No. 22 after falling to Richmond and Dayton. San Diego State’s return to the poll lasted one week; the Aztecs were unranked after losing to Boise State.