BYU back in Top 25 rankings

BYU back in Top 25 rankings

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By JIM O'CONNELL AP Basketball Writer

(AP) - Winthrop's impressive run to another NCAA tournament bid has the Eagles in The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time.

While Ohio State stayed No. 1 in the rankings for the second straight week Monday, Winthrop moved in at No. 24.

"Nine years of work has been poured into this," Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall said Monday. "The AP is the original poll, the one I grew up with. This is another stamp of approval that people are recognizing this basketball program and not just this season but a culmination of nine years. This validates what we've been doing for these many years."

The victory over VMI on Saturday in the Big South tournament championship game gave the Eagles a seventh NCAA berth since 1999. It capped a perfect season in the league and extended their winning streak to 18 games and improved their record to 28-4. All their losses have come on the road to teams they joined in the Top 25.

"We're not No. 31 or 29 or 27 anymore. You don't put numbers on the teams in the list of other receiving votes but we do," Marshall said. "We don't worry about that now. There is a clear two-four in front of our name now and we are proud of that to be honest."

UNLV moved into the poll for the first time this season at No. 25. Winthrop and the Runnin' Rebels are the 47th and 48th schools to be ranked this season, tying the all-time record set in 1992-93.

Ohio State (27-3), which beat Michigan 65-61 to cap its Big Ten regular season, stayed No. 1 with 70 first-place votes and 1,798 points from the 72-member national media panel. Kansas (27-4), which beat Oklahoma and Texas last week to wrap up the Big 12 regular season title, moved up one spot to No. 2 with the other two No. 1 votes and 1,706 points.

Wisconsin, which finished second to Ohio State in the Big Ten, moved up one place to third, while UCLA, which beat Washington State to wrap up the Pac-10 regular season title but then lost to Washington on Saturday, dropped from second to fourth.

Memphis, which finished undefeated in Conference USA, moved up one spot to fifth and was followed by Florida, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Georgetown and Nevada.

Washington State was No. 11 followed by Louisville, Pittsburgh, Southern Illinois, Texas, Oregon, Maryland, Marquette, Butler and Notre Dame.

Duke, which lost to Maryland and North Carolina last week, dropped from 14th to lead the last five teams followed by newcomers Tennessee, BYU, Winthrop and UNLV.

This was the eighth straight week that at least three teams moved into the Top 25 with the most being six three weeks ago.

Winthrop's losses this season were to Wisconsin, Texas A&M, North Carolina and Maryland. The loss at Wisconsin was in overtime.

"That day in Madison we were the better team but we didn't win the game. When we played North Carolina we were ahead by nine with 12 minutes to go and they wore us down. Both those teams were No. 1 in the poll this season," Marshall said. "We know what we're capable of doing and now everyone else knows but it took weeks and weeks of winning and there was no safety net so the pressure has been on this team for quite some time."

UNLV (25-6) moved into the rankings on a four-game winning streak and finished second to BYU in the Mountain West. The Runnin' Rebels last made an appearance in the top 25 in the final poll of the 1992-93 season.

Tennessee (22-9) moved back into the rankings after being out for six weeks. BYU (23-7) returned after being out for one week.

Vanderbilt, which lost to Arkansas, dropped out from No. 19. Virginia Tech fell out from 21st after losing to Virginia and Clemson, while Southern California dropped out from 23rd following losses to Washington and Washington State. Air Force, which was ranked as high as 13th this season, dropped out from 25th after losing to BYU.

Next week's poll is the last of the season.


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