West Virginia at No. 2 in Latest AP Top 25 Poll
By AARON BEARD, AP Basketball Writer
Villanova needed just a week to reclaim its lost No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. West Virginia waited a lot longer — nearly six decades, in fact — to get back to its position at No. 2.
Villanova returned to the top spot in Monday’s new poll after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke. The Wildcats got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where it spent three weeks in December.
The Mountaineers were next to capitalize on a big win, along with the chaos of a week that saw four top-5 teams lose to unranked opponents and six top-10 teams lose overall.
West Virginia — which beat then-No. 7 Oklahoma last week — earned 12 first-place votes and secured the program’s highest ranking since December 1959 during Jerry West’s senior season. Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3 and got the remaining first-place vote, followed by Michigan State after the Spartans’ loss at Ohio State.
Purdue and Wichita State tied for No. 5. Duke, the preseason No. 1-ranked team, fell five spots to No. 7 after losing at North Carolina State. Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Xavier rounded out the top 10.
Villanova (14-1) lost at Butler on Dec. 30, then had to wait a week before beating Marquette on Saturday.
“We try to learn from our wins and losses,” coach Jay Wright said afterward. “We don’t really judge ourselves on whether we won or lost, we judge ourselves on how well we played Villanova basketball. Sometimes we win and we still didn’t play great Villanova basketball. When you lose, that’s when it’s really obvious. The team just refocuses themselves and recommits themselves.”
West Virginia (14-1) hasn’t lost since falling to Texas A&M on opening night. That run includes a December home win against Virginia and Saturday’s win against the Sooners and star freshman Trae Young.
“Our entire men’s basketball program is certainly delighted with our highest national ranking since 1959,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said in a statement. “It’s certainly an exciting time for our storied men’s basketball program, the great state of West Virginia and all of Mountaineer Nation. However, our guys know that we play in the toughest basketball conference in the country, and they know what is ahead of them each and every night when we take the court in Big 12 play.”
No. 8 Texas Tech (14-1) was the week’s biggest climber. It moved up 10 spots after earning its first win at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse in 18 tries along with a win against Kansas State for the program’s best ranking since being seventh in March 1996.
Fifth-ranked Purdue (15-2) moved up eight spots for its highest ranking since February 2010 and carries an 11-game winning streak into Tuesday’s trip to Michigan. No. 13 Seton Hall (14-2) also moved up eight spots, matching the biggest one-week AP Top 25 jump in its history.
Reigning national champion North Carolina took the biggest fall of any team that remained in the poll, sliding eight spots from No. 12 to No. 20 after road losses to now-No. 23 Florida State and Virginia . Arizona State fell seven spots to No. 11 after its overtime loss to Colorado.
No. 22 Auburn and No. 25 Creighton were new to the poll this week, though the Bluejays have been ranked in four previous polls this season. It’s a different deal for the Tigers (14-1), who are ranked for the first time since January 2003 after wins against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents Arkansas and Tennessee last week.
Arkansas fell out from No. 22 after losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, while Texas A&M went from 11th to unranked after losses to Florida and LSU.
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