Huskies Return to No. 1 Spot in AP Poll

Monday, December 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Connecticut is back on top.

The No. 1 team in The Associated Press men's college basketball Top 25 changed for the fourth straight week, with the Huskies moving up one place Monday to reclaim their preseason spot.

The Huskies (7-1) were also No. 1 for the first two polls of the regular season. But their loss to Georgia Tech in the Preseason NIT led to a revolving door of top teams; Kansas and Florida also took turns leading the poll.

The Gators were No. 1 last week, but lost two straight games.

UConn didn't even receive the most first-place votes from the national media panel, outpolled 26-21 in that category by No. 2 Kentucky. But Connecticut had a total of 1,685 points, 67 more than the Wildcats (5-0).

``The way it is today, it's not even parity,'' Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said Monday. ``I disagree with those who say there are 30 to 40 teams that can win the title _ it's still probably in the 10-to-12 neighborhood. But we have to wait to see who evolves out of the group.''

Once again, Connecticut has the top team in both AP polls; its women's team has been No. 1 since the preseason.

Florida (5-2) dropped 14 spots to No. 15 after losses to Maryland and Louisville, which both moved into the rankings Monday. They replace Michigan State and Iowa.

Duke (6-1) received one first-place vote and was No. 3, the first of three straight teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. No. 4 North Carolina (6-0) was first on six ballots, while No. 5 Georgia Tech (8-0) _ unranked in the preseason _ had 14 first-place votes.

Kansas, which fell from No. 1 after losing to Stanford, was sixth, followed by Arizona, Oklahoma, Stanford and Missouri.

Arizona and Stanford each received two first-place votes, bringing the total of teams with No. 1 votes to seven.

Saint Joseph's and Texas tied for 11th. Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Florida, Cincinnati, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville rounded out the Top 20.

The last five ranked teams were Illinois, Wisconsin, Marquette, Dayton and Maryland.

Connecticut closes out December with home games against Iona, Ball State and Massachusetts. The team's first six games of 2004 send the Huskies on the road three times, including matchups with ranked teams Oklahoma, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

``I'll know a lot more about us after those games. I'll know then if we're still one of those teams that can win it,'' Calhoun said. ``I don't feel any different about my team than I did at the beginning of the season. We have enough talent.''

Louisville (4-1), which beat Florida 73-65 Saturday, moved back into the rankings at No. 20 after a two-week absence. Maryland (6-2), which beat the Gators 69-68 in overtime, is ranked for the first time this season.

Michigan State, No. 3 in the preseason poll, fell from No. 21 after dropping to 3-4 with Saturday's 79-74 loss to Kentucky. The Spartans' other losses were also against ranked teams _ Kansas, Oklahoma and Duke _ and the team's start is its worst since the 1995-96 season, Tom Izzo's first as coach.