The Times West Virginian

Sports

February 18, 2014

Undefeated ’Cuse on top of AP Poll

NO LONGER UNANIMOUS: Syracuse is on top of the AP poll for a third straight week but unlike the first two the Orange are not a unanimous No. 1.

Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press changed his No. 1 vote from Syracuse to Florida, which moved from third to second in the poll.

“Simply put, I watched both teams play both games last week and I think Florida is the best team in the country,” Rexrode said. “That’s pretty much it.”

This is the Orange’s 17th week all-time on top of the poll, tied with Illinois for 14th place on the No. 1 list. Next up would be Michigan, which has been No. 1 for 22 weeks. UCLA holds the all-time mark with 134 weeks on top.

EVEN HUNDRED: This is Kansas’ 100th consecutive week as a ranked team second on the current list to Duke, which has been in the Top 25 for 132 consecutive polls, a streak that started with the preseason poll of 2007-08. UCLA holds the all-time record of 221 consecutive weeks, a run that went from 1966 to 1980.

Michigan State is in the poll for a 50th consecutive week. The Spartans are fifth on the current list behind Duke, Kansas, Syracuse (74) and Florida (61).

RISING BILLIKENS: Saint Louis’ 17-game winning streak has the Billikens (23-20 at No. 10 this week. This is their first Top Ten appearance since Dec. 29, 1964 when they were No. 9 with Rich Naes, an all-Missouri Valley Conference first team selection, as their leading scorer and rebounder.

Coached by John Bennington, the Billikens finished 18-9 that season and lost to Army in the first round of the NIT.

QUICK VISIT: SMU cracked the Top 25 last week for the first time since the next-to-last poll of 1984-85, a season when they reached as high as No. 2.

The Mustangs (20-6), who were ranked 23rd, didn’t stay among the ranked very long this time as a 71-64 loss to Temple knocked them out of the Top 25.

Pittsburgh was the other team to fall from the ranks of the ranked. The Panthers (20-6) lost to Syracuse 58-56 and North Carolina 75-71 last week and dropped from 25th. They had been ranked for five weeks reaching as high as No. 18.

WELCOME BACK: The two newcomers to this week’s poll have both been ranked this season.

No. 23 UCLA (20-5) was out of the Top 25 the last five weeks but the Bruins return having won six of their last seven games under first-year coach Steve Alford. The Bruins, who were No. 22 in the preseason poll and were ranked for the first four weeks of the regular season before falling out the first time, play at California and Stanford this weekend.

No. 25 Gonzaga (23-4) returned to the poll two weeks ago and dropped out following a loss at Memphis. The Bulldogs beat Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount last week to clinch at least a tie for the West Coast Conference regular season title, their 13th in the last 14 years. The Bulldogs were ranked 15th in the preseason poll and reached as high as No. 11 before falling out of the poll for the first time.

DOUBLE-RANKED GAMES: There are six games between ranked teams this week and none will draw as much attention as No. 1 Syracuse at No. 5 Duke on Saturday.

When these teams met in Syracuse on Feb. 1, the Orange prevailed 91-89 in overtime in a game that was labeled an instant classic. It will be a rematch of the college basketball’s all-time winningest coaches; Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke.

Texas has a couple of chances at season sweeps this week. The 19th-ranked Longhorns are at No. 17 Iowa State on Tuesday and they are at No. 8 Kansas on Saturday.

The other double-ranked games are No. 11 Louisville at No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 16 Wisconsin at No. 15 Iowa, both on Saturday, and No. 13 Michigan State at No. 20 Michigan on Sunday.

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