North Carolina Stays No. 1 In AP Top 25

Monday, November 19th 2007, 12:52 pm
By: News On 6

Florida is back in the Top 25.

The two-time defending national champions came into this season having lost the top six players from the team that repeated. It took the new group of Gators just two weeks to move into The Associated Press college basketball poll.

The top of the poll remained the same Monday, but there was plenty of change at the bottom.

North Carolina kept the No. 1 spot, although its lead over UCLA did shrink, and the top nine teams were the same as last week.

Syracuse, Virginia, Clemson and Florida all moved into the rankings for the first time this season, replacing Arizona, Arkansas, Stanford and North Carolina State after a week of some early upsets.

Florida (4-0) won its opening four games by an average of 29.2 points with the biggest name of the group being Rutgers, which the Gators beat 88-63 on Saturday.

The Gators lost four starters early to the NBA and two other key players to graduation from the group that won 68 games over the last two seasons. They were the first team to repeat as national champions since Duke in 1992.

North Carolina (2-0) opened the season with a 72-68 victory over Davidson, then beat Iona 107-72 on Sunday. The Tar Heels and UCLA both received 26 first-place votes, but North Carolina had 1,725 points, nine more than the Bruins (3-0), who cruised to 30-plus point victories over Youngstown State and Cal State Bernardino last week.

The Tar Heels had 29 first-place votes, five more than UCLA, and finished 27 points ahead of the Bruins last week.

Memphis (4-0), which beat Oklahoma and Connecticut in winning the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic last week, stayed third with 19 first-place votes and 1,689 points.

Kansas, Georgetown, which received one first-place vote, Louisville, Tennessee, Indiana and Washington State held fourth through ninth. Michigan State jumped up two places to round out the top 10.

Marquette fell one place to 11th and was followed by Oregon, Duke, Gonzaga, Texas, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Kansas State, Southern Illinois and Villanova.

The last five ranked teams were Syracuse, Butler, Virginia, Clemson and Florida.

Syracuse (3-0) moved in following wins over Fairleigh Dickinson and Saint Joseph's in the NIT Season Tip-Off and a victory over Fordham.

Virginia (3-0) had what may have been the week's most impressive win, a 75-72 victory at Arizona, that followed wins over Howard and Vermont.

Clemson (3-0) sandwiched a road win at Mississippi State with home victories over Furman and Old Dominion.

Arizona (1-1) fell out from No. 17 with the loss to Virginia. Arkansas (3-1) was one spot behind the Wildcats, but the Razorbacks dropped out following a 67-51 loss to Providence in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Stanford (4-1) fell out from 20th after a 79-67 loss at Siena, while North Carolina State (1-1) dropped out from 22nd after a 65-63 home loss to New Orleans.

The addition of Syracuse gave the Big East six ranked teams with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 next with four each. The Pac-10 had six teams in the preseason Top 25, but Southern California fell out in the first regular season voting and Arizona and Stanford dropped out this week.

The week of holiday tournaments can produce some matchups of ranked teams.

UCLA and Michigan State could meet in the championship game of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic on Tuesday. Marquette and Duke could square off in the EA Sports Maui Invitational title game on Wednesday, the same day Washington and Texas A&M will meet in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off. That winner could get Syracuse in Friday's championship game.

On Friday, Villanova and Kansas State could meet in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic and the season's biggest matchup to date could come about Saturday in the Las Vegas Invitational if North Carolina and Louisville both win on Friday.