Syracuse surrenders top spot, Kentucky new No. 1
For the first time in six weeks, Syracuse dropped from the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 college basketball rankings after losing its first game of the season.
After starting the season off with 20-straight wins, the Orange (21-1) suffered an unlikely loss to Notre Dame (12-8). With leading rebounder and shot-blocker Fab Melo not playing for Syracuse, forward Jack Cooley was able to shine for the Fighting Irish, picking up 17 points and 10 boards in a 67-58 victory. Melo did not make the trip to South Bend, Ind., for unknown reasons.
Two days later the Orange were able to pick up a win at Cincinnati (15-6), but couldn’t salvage the top spot, falling to No. 3.
Kentucky (19-1) reclaimed the No. 1 spot, after Syracuse originally overtook the Wildcats as the top team back in the sixth week of the season. Kentucky, whose only loss was a one-point heartbreaker to Indiana, easily beat down Arkansas (14-5) last week, as well as beating Alabama (13-6).
Also jumping ahead of the Orange to the No. 2 spot was Missouri (18-1) after knocking off the previous No. 3 team, Baylor (17-2), 89-88. Ricardo Ratliffe scored 27 for the Tigers as they stayed alive just long enough to hold off a hot-shooting Bears team.
Baylor descended to No. 6 with a pair of losses last week. After starting off 17-0, the Bears were also dismantled by Kansas (17-3), as the Jayhawks followed a 27 point, 14 rebound performance by Thomas Robinson, winning easily, 92-74.
Kansas jumped up two spots to No. 5 with the win over Baylor as well as wins against Texas (12-7) and Texas A&M (11-8).
Ohio State (17-3) also rose in the rankings, claiming the No. 4 spot with an impressive win over No. 17 Indiana (16-4), which has lost three of its last four after winning 15 of its first 16 games.
Duke (16-3) fell four spots from No. 4 to No. 8 after a three-point loss to then-unranked Florida State (13-6). With the win, the Seminoles jumped into the rankings to the No. 23 spot.
North Carolina (16-3) was able to go one spot ahead of arch-rival Duke at No.7. The Tar Heels defeated Virginia Tech (12-7), 82-68, gaining back a margin of respect after its 33 point loss to FSU on Jan. 14.
Rounding out the top 10 are Georgetown (16-3) and Michigan State (16-4), respectively, with each trading its previous position on the poll.
Murray State (20-0) continued to rise to No. 11, as they remained the only undefeated team in the nation.
UNLV (18-3), San Diego State (17-2), Florida (15-4) and Creighton (18-2) all leaped at least two spots, filling out spots 12 to 15, respectively.
Marquette (16-4) climbed four spots to No. 17, coming back from 16 points down to defeat Louisville (15-5), knocking the Cardinals out of the Top 25.
No. 18 Mississippi State (16-4) and No. 20 Michigan (15-5) stood steady at their spots, while Virginia (15-3) squeezed up in between them at No. 19.
Saint Mary’s (19-2) and Kansas State (14-4) each went up three spots to No. 21 and 22, respectively, while Connecticut plummeted from No. 13 to No. 24 after consecutive losses to Cincinnati and Tennessee.
Closing out the Top 25 was newcomer Wisconsin (16-5), who closely defeated then-No. 25 Illinois (15-5), 67-63, and replaced the Fighting Illini with the last spot.
Taylor Snow can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Snow.