Illinois still No. 1, Nevada ranked for first time

Monday, February 21st 2005, 1:05 pm
By: News On 6

For the second time in three weeks a school entered The Associated Press' Top 25 for the first time ever.

Nevada, winners of six straight games and nine of 10, was No. 25 on Monday, the first time the Wolf Pack cracked the rankings. Two weeks ago, Pacific, No. 19 this week, moved into the poll for the first time.

Illinois, the lone unbeaten team in Division I, was No. 1 for the 12th straight week. For the fourth consecutive poll, the Illini were a unanimous choice.

The Illini (27-0) won road games against Penn State and Iowa last week and received all 72 first-place votes from the national media panel. Illinois' only game this week is Wednesday at home against Northwestern.

North Carolina (22-3) moved up two spots to No. 2 after easy wins over Virginia and Clemson last week.

Boston College (22-1), which beat Syracuse on Saturday in a matchup of Top Ten teams, jumped from sixth to No. 3, the highest ranking in school history. The Eagles were fourth two weeks ago. Their highest ranking before this season was sixth in December 1967.

Oklahoma State moved from eighth to No. 4 _ the week's biggest jump _ and was followed by Kentucky, Wake Forest, Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Michigan State.

Kansas (20-3) lost to Texas Tech in double overtime and Iowa State in overtime last week, sending the Jayhawks to their lowest ranking of the season. Arizona (23-4) used wins over Oregon and Oregon State last week to move up one place to ninth, the Wildcats' highest ranking of the season.

Louisville was 11th and was followed by Gonzaga, Utah, Washington, Syracuse, Alabama, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Pacific and Wisconsin.

The last five ranked teams were Charlotte, Oklahoma, Villanova, Cincinnati and Nevada.

Kansas' fall from No. 2 to eighth and Syracuse's drop from No. 9 to 15th were the biggest of the week as each lost two games. The Orange (22-5) also lost to Pittsburgh last week and fell out of the Top Ten for the first time this season.

Nevada (20-5) holds a two-game lead over UTEP in the Western Athletic Conference. The Wolf Pack reached the 20-win mark for the second straight season with a 74-64 win over Vermont on Saturday in the marquee matchup of the Bracket Buster games.

The Wolf Pack beat Michigan State and Gonzaga in last season's NCAA tournament then lost to Georgia Tech in their first appearance in the round of 16. Coach Trent Johnson left for Stanford after the season and Mark Fox, his assistant for four years, was promoted to replace him.

Maryland (16-8), which lost to North Carolina State and beat Virginia in double overtime last week, fell out of the rankings from 22nd. The Terrapins were ranked for two of the last six polls after being 15th in the preseason voting and getting as high as No. 12.