North Carolina Still No. 1; Xavier Joins Poll
Nov. 24, 2008
It took until the second week of the season for a team to break into the Top 25.
North Carolina, Connecticut and Louisville held the top three spots in The Associated Press' college basketball poll Monday, while Xavier moved in at No. 16 after winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Tar Heels (3-0), who welcomed back player of the year Tyler Hansbrough from an injury, were again a unanimous selection of the 72-member national media panel. Hansbrough, who missed three weeks of practice and two games with a stress reaction in his right leg, had 13 points in 25 minutes in an 84-67 win over UC Santa Barbara last Friday. Those were the first games the senior missed in his career.
Connecticut (4-0) beat La Salle and Miami to advance to the championship game of the Paradise Jam, while Louisville (2-0) opened its season by winning its Billy Minardi Classic with wins over Morehead State and South Alabama.
The poll began changing there because of UCLA's 55-52 loss to Michigan in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic.
Pittsburgh (4-0) moved from sixth to fourth, leaping Michigan State (2-0), which remained No. 5. Texas (2-0) moved up one place to sixth, while Duke (6-0), which beat Michigan for the 2K Sports Classic title, jumped from 10th to No. 7.
Notre Dame (2-0) and Gonzaga (2-0) remained eighth and ninth, while Purdue (4-0) moved up one place to close out the Top Ten.
UCLA (3-1), which bounced back to beat Southern Illinois 77-60 in the third-place game, dropped from fourth to No. 13, three spots in front of Xavier (5-0), which beat Missouri, Virginia Tech and Memphis to win the tournament in Puerto Rico.
Oklahoma was No. 11, followed by Tennessee, UCLA, Arizona State, Marquette, Xavier, Florida, Memphis, Wake Forest and Villanova.
Georgetown, Kansas, Miami, Davidson and Wisconsin rounded out the Top 25.
Southern California (3-2) dropped out from No. 19 after losing to Seton Hall and Missouri in the same tournament Xavier won.
The Musketeers were ranked for 14 weeks last season, reaching as high as No. 8 and finishing 12th in the final poll. They lost three key players from that team which lost to UCLA in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.
Freshman guard Terrell Holloway went 10-for-10 from the free throw line for a second straight game to lead a balanced offense for the Musketeers in the 63-58 win over Memphis that gave them a 5-0 record for the first time since 1997-98.
"We knew with a strong field in Puerto Rico that we would learn a lot about our team and we did and the double good is that we not only learned a lot but that we had three quality wins," Xavier coach Sean Miller said Monday. "We know that any one of those games could have gone against us but it was a good run for our team."
Miller said the upperclassmen on this team learned a lot about leadership from last season's team.
"We lost three quality seniors before last season, too, and we had players step up to lead and even though those players left, we have had that again this season," he said.
Xavier is off until hosting Miami of Ohio on Saturday.
The Old Spice Classic, which gets under way Thursday in Orlando, Fla., has four members of the Top 25 - Tennessee, Georgetown, Michigan State and Gonzaga - in its eight-team field.