Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Kentucky, Syracuse sit atop national ranks

By Taylor C. Snow

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The top five teams remained in tact in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, with Kentucky responsible for 97 percent of the No. 1 votes.

The Wildcats (23-1) cruised last week, outscoring both of their opponents by at least 25 points, while Syracuse (23-1) stayed at No. 2, outscoring St. John’s (10-13) by 25 as well.

Ohio State (20-3) built up all week for its lone matchup against previously No. 19 Wisconsin (18-6), was a low-scoring affair, 58-52. The Buckeyes and Badgers each shot under 20 percent from three-point-range, but OSU big-man Jared Sullinger came up huge inside with 24 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Buckeyes remain at No. 3. The loss for Wisconsin dropped the Badgers two spots to No. 21.

Missouri (21-2) remained at No. 4, thanks to a pair of heart-pounding victories, as it defeated Texas and Kansas by a combined four points.  Against the Longhorns (14-9), junior guard Michael Dixon was the hero, gathering a game-high 21 points off the bench, and notching a game-winning layup with 31 seconds remaining, giving Mizzou a 67-66 victory.

Five days later, the Tigers played in another nail-biter, this time versus previously No. 8 Kansas (18-5). Trailing 71-63 with barely two minutes remaining, senior guard Marcus Denmon took over for Mizzou, scoring nine straight points over the course of 68 seconds. He finished off his 29-point outburst, when he nailed a game-winning 3-pointer with under a minute on the clock, leading the Tigers to a 74-71 win.

Despite the loss, Kansas still gained a spot in the rankings, and moved to No. 8 in the nation.

Sharing the top spot in the Big 12, along with the Tigers and the Jayhawks, was Baylor, who owns the No. 6 spot. However, there is a good chance that things could get shaken up this week, as the Bears (21-2) will take on both Kansas and Missouri.

Over in the ACC, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 15 Florida State finally broke away from Duke for the top spot in the conference. The Blue Devils (19-4) lost to Miami (14-7) in overtime, and dropped down three spots in the rankings to No. 10. The Seminoles (16-6) escalated six spots with two victories, including one over No.19 Virginia. Duke will face the Tar Heels (20-3) this Wednesday, in a showdown of college basketball’s most bitter rivalry.

Florida remains a game and a half behind Kentucky in the SEC, as it claims the No. 8 spot in the nation. With a win over Vanderbilt this past weekend the Gators (19-4) moved closer to their marquee meeting with the Wildcats, and in the process, knocked the Commodores (16-7) out of the Top 25.

Murray State edged up one spot, as it remained the country’s only undefeated team, boasting a 23-0 record.

Michigan State now sits one game behind Ohio State in the Big 10 standings, after its low-scoring 42-41 loss to Illinois (16-7). The Spartans (18-5) however, came off the loss strong, defeating previously No. 23 Michigan by 10 points. MSU still fell out of the top 10 and find itself at No. 11 in the nation.

Michigan (17-7) preceded its loss to Michigan State with a victory over previously No. 20 Indiana. Michigan now sits at No. 22, while the Hoosiers dropped to No. 23.

Marquette (19-5) lost an edge on Georgetown (18-4) this past week, after a 76-59 drubbing at the hands of Notre Dame. The Hoyas won both of their games and jumped up two spots to No. 12, while the Golden Eagles now stand tied for second with Georgetown in the Big East, and hold the No. 18 spot.

The No. 13 and 14 positions are held by San Diego State (20-3) and UNLV (21-4), respectively. The Mountain West rivals will face-off for the second time this season on Saturday. The Aztecs took game one thanks to a buzzer-beating shot early in the season.

Saint Mary’s (22-2) rose two spots this week to No. 16, while Creighton fell down four to No. 17. The Bluejays’ (21-3) fall is due to their three-point loss to Northern Iowa (16-9), but they still remain the top-shooting team in the country (.512), a stat that was backed up last Wednesday when they hit the century mark against Illinois State (15-9).

Rising up two spots from No. 22 was Mississippi State (18-5), who narrowly defeated Auburn (13-10) by three, and now trail Florida by two games in the SEC.

Returning to the Top 25 and rounding it out were Louisville (18-5) and Harvard (20-2). The Cardinals had been out of the rankings for two straight weeks, while the Crimson had been absent for four.

Taylor Snow can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Snow.

 

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