Pittsburgh Back On Top Of AP Poll
(AP) - After a week that saw the top three teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll lose, Pittsburgh jumped from fourth to No. 1 on Monday.
The Panthers (25-2) made history on Jan. 5 when they became No. 1 for the first time ever. Almost two months later they're back on top after making Connecticut one of those highly ranked losers.
"It's been talked about so much and with its TV ratings the game has reached that level great games do," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said of last Monday's 76-68 victory over the Huskies, who were No. 1 for three weeks. "I thought we competed and executed pretty well and didn't shoot great, but they focused on execution and commitment and that was definitely there."
That win, and Saturday's 80-61 victory over DePaul, allowed the Panthers to take advantage of the losses by Connecticut, Oklahoma and North Carolina to make the biggest jump to No. 1 since UCLA went from fifth to No. 1 on Nov. 28, 2006.
It was the first time the top three teams lost in the same week since November 2003, when the top four teams - Connecticut, Duke, Michigan State and Arizona - all were defeated.
The Panthers received 69 first-place votes from the 72-member national media panel and were followed in order by last week's top three - Connecticut (25-2), which had one first-place vote, Oklahoma (25-2), which was No. 1 on two ballots, and North Carolina (24-3).
When the Panthers moved to No. 1, a perch it held for two weeks, Dixon said it was a big deal for the school, its fans and the city. This time, it's a little different.
"I think later in the year it reflects more of a long-term accomplishment, more on what you have done almost the entire season because there's not too many more polls left," Dixon said. "It still all comes down to doing it on the floor and everything is settled there. I'd rather be No. 1 than someone else."
Oklahoma lost 73-68 to Texas in a game where preseason All-America Blake Griffin sustained a concussion and didn't play in the second half. North Carolina was beaten 88-85 in overtime by Maryland.
Memphis held No. 5 and was followed by Louisville, Duke, Marquette, Michigan State and Villanova.
This is Villanova's highest ranking since it was third in the final poll of 2005-06 and the Wildcats, along with Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Louisville and Marquette give the Big East half of the current top 10.
This is the second time this season a conference has had the top two teams in the rankings as Wake Forest and Duke of the Atlantic Coast Conference were 1-2 the week of Jan. 19.
Missouri remained 11th and was followed by Clemson, Wake Forest, Arizona State, Kansas, Purdue, Gonzaga, LSU, Xavier and Illinois.
The last five teams were Washington, UCLA, Florida State, Butler and Texas.
Florida State (21-6) and Texas (18-8) both moved back into the rankings.
The Seminoles, who are in a three-way tie for second in the ACC, moved into the Top 25 two weeks ago for the first time this season, then fell out following a 23-point loss to Wake Forest. They return this week off wins over Miami and Virginia Tech.
Texas was out of the poll the last two weeks. The Longhorns were No. 7 in the preseason rankings and reached as high as fifth, but they fell out after three straight losses. They return having won three of four, including the win over Oklahoma last weekend.
Syracuse (19-8) dropped out from 24th after an 88-86 loss to Villanova. The Orange, who were ranked as high as No. 8, have lost seven of 10.
Dayton (23-4) saw its one-week stint in the rankings end with a 57-49 loss to Saint Louis.
The Big East and ACC are tied with five teams each in the Top 25 with the Big 12 next with four.