North Carolina Remains Unanimous No. 1
Dec. 8, 2008
North Carolina's 35-point romp over a ranked team kept the Tar Heels a unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press' college basketball poll Monday. Ohio State joined the Top 25 following a pair of five-point victories over ranked teams.
The Tar Heels (8-0) dismantled Michigan State 98-63 at Ford Field last week as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and again received all 72 first-place votes from the national media panel.
Connecticut and Pittsburgh held the second and third spots, while Gonzaga and Oklahoma both moved up one place to fourth and fifth. Texas, Duke, Tennessee, Louisville and Xavier rounded out the top 10.
Ohio State (5-0), which beat Miami and Notre Dame last week, moved in at No. 21, the Buckeyes' first ranking since being No. 1 in the final poll of 2006-07.
Defending national champion Kansas (7-1) moved back into the poll at No. 25.
Miami (5-2) and Florida dropped out of the rankings. Miami bounced back from the loss to Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with a victory at Kentucky on Saturday. Florida lost to intrastate rival Florida State for the third straight year on Sunday.
Texas (6-1) moved up one spot after beating UCLA 68-64 last week. Duke, which lost 81-73 at Michigan on Saturday after winning 76-60 at Purdue on Tuesday, fell from fourth to seventh.
Wake Forest was 11th and was followed by Notre Dame, Syracuse, Purdue, Villanova, UCLA, Memphis, Michigan State, Georgetown and Arizona State.
The last five ranked teams were Ohio State, Baylor, Davidson, Marquette and Kansas.
Kansas, the defending national champion, returned to the poll after being out for one week following its loss to Syracuse. The Jayhawks beat Kent State, New Mexico State and Jackson State last week, all by at least 21 points.
The last time Ohio State was ranked it had a roster full of freshmen who all headed for the NBA after the title-game loss to Florida. Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook were first-round picks after that one season.
The current group of Buckeyes is about as young, with sophomores Evan Turner and Jon Diebler and freshmen B.J. Mullens and William Buford joining junior David Lighty to lead the way this season.
"Honestly, I didn't know what to expect," coach Thad Matta said Monday. "I think the big thing is we're pleased with the start we're off to, but we know we have to work to get where we want to be. But it beats the alternative.
"The guys have done a very good job of working hard and from that standpoint we're very pleased. We sit down after every game and show them things we have to improve to get to where we want to be."
Ohio State trailed by 14 points at halftime at Miami, and the win over then-No. 7 Notre Dame came at Lucas Oil Stadium, hardly a neutral site with the Fighting Irish having a homestate advantage.
"No question as we went into last week we knew we were going to have play very good basketball to have a chance to win," Matta said. "The come-from-behind victory at Miami was big with the way we did it, only turned the ball over one time, what we had been preaching, to take care of the ball. We knew defensively we had to be very sound in both games. We hope the guys are learning the system and staying focused on what we need to do."
The Big East had a record eight teams in the Top 25 for a second straight week: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown and Marquette . The Big 12 was second this week with four teams, while the ACC and Big Ten had three each.
There are two games between ranked teams this week, with Villanova facing Texas on Tuesday at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, and Memphis at Georgetown on Saturday.