Illinois on top for 13th straight week

Monday, February 28th 2005, 12:23 pm
By: News On 6

Illinois was No. 1 in The Associated Press college basketball poll Monday, the Illini's 13th straight week on top and their fifth consecutive poll as a unanimous choice.

The Illini (28-0) beat Northwestern in their only game last week. Coupled with a loss by Michigan State, that was enough for them to win their second straight Big Ten title.

The 13-week run at No. 1 is the longest since Kansas was on top for 15 straight polls in 1996-97. Five weeks as a unanimous choice of the 72-member national media panel is the longest such streak since Duke's five-week run in 2001-02.

North Carolina (24-3) beat North Carolina State and Maryland last week to remain No. 2.

Kentucky, which beat Alabama in a key Southeastern Conference game on Saturday, moved up two spots to third. Wake Forest made the same jump to fourth, while Boston College, which lost at Villanova last Wednesday, dropped from No. 3 _ the highest ranking in school history _ to fifth.

Duke moved up one spot to sixth. It marked the Blue Devils' 164th consecutive poll appearance, tying Kentucky for the fifth-longest streak since the poll started in the 1948-49 season.

Duke has been ranked in every poll since the preseason Top 25 of the 1996-97 season. The record is UCLA's run of 221 consecutive polls that started with the preseason voting in 1966-67 and ended on Jan. 8, 1980.

Kansas, which has the second-longest active streak at 91 straight polls, moved from eighth to No. 7. Oklahoma State, the team the Jayhawks beat to end their three-game losing streak, dropped from fourth to No. 8.

Louisville and Washington rounded out the Top Ten.

Arizona was 11th and was followed by Gonzaga, Syracuse, Michigan State, Connecticut, Utah, Pacific, Charlotte, Villanova and Oklahoma.

Alabama, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and Nevada were the last five ranked teams.

Pittsburgh (18-7) lost home games to West Virginia and Connecticut last week to extend its losing streak to three games. The Panthers' fall from 18th to 24th was the biggest drop of the week, and is their lowest ranking since they started their run of 59 straight polls on Feb. 11, 2002.

Washington, which beat Arizona State and Arizona, and Villanova, which beat Georgetown in addition to the win over Boston College, both had the week's biggest jump at four places.

There are four games with two ranked teams this week _ Pittsburgh at Boston College on Monday; Charlotte at Louisville on Thursday; Syracuse at Connecticut on Saturday, and Duke at North Carolina on Sunday.