The Times West Virginian

Sports

November 19, 2013

Michigan State is No. 1 for first time in 13 years

NEW No. 1: Michigan State made the one-step move to No. 1 by beating Kentucky in the 1 vs. 2 matchup last week.

It’s the third time the Spartans have been atop the poll. They have to hope they can make a run as No. 1 that lasts longer than the other two, which were both for two weeks.

Michigan State’s first time on top was during the 1978-79 season, one that ended with a national championship. The Spartans were led by Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser.

The next time was during the 2000-01 season, one that again ended with the Spartans in the Final Four only this time they were defending champions going for a repeat. That team featured Jason Richardson and Zack Randolph.

NEW GUYS: Iowa State and Creighton made their first appearance in the poll this season.

The Cyclones, which beat then-No. 7 Michigan 77-70 last weekend, are in the rankings for the first time since a one-week appearance in 2011-12.

Creighton, which made the move this season from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East, was ranked for all but four weeks last season, reaching as high as No. 11.

They replace Notre Dame and Virginia. The Fighting Irish, who lost to Indiana State, had been ranked for nine straight weeks dating to last season. Virginia, which lost to then No. 14 VCU, had been ranked for the preseason Top 25 and first regular-season poll.

FIRST TOP TEN: Virginia Commonwealth, one of the mid-major programs to reach the Final Four, made its first appearance in the Top Ten this week.

The Rams jumped four spots this week after beating then-No. 25 Virginia and Winthrop.

VCU, which reached the Final Four in 2011, came close to the top 10 when it finished 11th in the final poll of the 1984-85 season. The Rams weren’t ranked again until 2012-13.

BIG TEN No. 1s: Michigan State holds fifth place among Big Ten teams for being No. 1 in the AP poll. The Spartans have been No. 1 for five weeks.

Indiana leads the way with 54 weeks followed by Ohio State (37), Michigan (22), Illinois (17), Michigan State and Iowa (1) and Wisconsin (1).

The conference schools that have never reached No. 1 are Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State. Expansion will only add to that list. Rutgers and Maryland join the conference next season and have never been No. 1.

KENTUCKY KERNEL: Kentucky was No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 and the first regular-season poll. The Wildcats have to hope history repeats because coach John Calipari had a team loaded with freshman talent ranked No. 1 for two weeks early in the 2011-12 season. The team regained the top spot seven weeks later and kept it through the final poll and capped it with a national championship.

DOUBLE-RANKED: There is one definite meeting of ranked teams this week with No. 11 Memphis playing at No. 7 Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

There could be two more is things fall right for the ranked teams — and the tournaments involved.

If both No. 10 VCU, which plays Florida State, and No. 14 Michigan, which plays Long Beach State, win in the first round, they would meet Friday in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan.

If both No. 3 Louisville, which plays Fairfield, and No. 24 North Carolina, which faces Richmond, win in the first round, they would meet on Sunday for the championship of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasvillle, Conn.

CONFERENCE RACE: The Atlantic Coast Conference had five teams in last week’s Top 25, the most of any league.

With Notre Dame and Virginia both falling out of this week’s rankings the ACC drops into a tie for third among conferences in the poll.

The Big Ten and the Big 12, which had Iowa State enter the Top 25, are tied for first this week with four teams each. The ACC is tied with the American Athletic Conference and the Pac-12 with three each.

The Southeastern Conference and the Big East, with two teams each, are the only multiteam leagues this week.

RISE AND FALL: Wisconsin, which beat No. 11 Florida 59-53 and Green Bay 69-66 to improve to 3-0, had the biggest jump in this week moving from No. 20 to No. 12.

The biggest drop was by North Carolina, which fell from No. 12 to No. 24 after beating Holy Cross 62-54 and losing to Belmont 83-80, the Tar Heels’ first nonconference home loss in eight years.

NEAR MISS: A look just outside the Top 25 shows Iowa and Indiana of the Big Ten sitting at Nos. 26 and 27. Being in the poll would be nothing big for Indiana, which was ranked No. 1 for 10 weeks last season, but the Hawkeyes haven’t been in the poll since 2005-06.

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