Illinois stays No. 1 and Cincinnati breaks into Top 25

Monday, December 13th 2004, 12:07 pm
By: News On 6

Illinois was No. 1 in The Associated Press' college basketball poll Monday for a second straight week, the school's longest run ever at the top of the rankings.

The Illini (9-0) moved into the top spot for the third time in school history last week. The other two times _ 1952 and 1989 _ they were there for all of a week, although they reached the Final Four both of those years.

This Illinois team had easy wins over Chicago State, Georgetown and Oregon last week and stayed No. 1 with 35 first-place votes and 1,748 points from the national media panel.

Kansas (6-0), which beat Texas Christian and Louisiana-Lafayette last week, stayed second with 22 No. 1 votes and 1,709 points.

Georgia Tech (6-0) was No. 1 on 12 ballots and remained third, while Oklahoma State (7-0), which handed Syracuse its first loss of the season last week, moved up one place to fourth. The Cowboys had the other three first-place votes.

The only newcomer to the poll this week was Cincinnati (6-0), which moved in at No. 25.

North Carolina moved up three places to No. 5 and started a run of three straight Atlantic Coast Conference teams with Wake Forest sixth and Duke seventh.

Syracuse, which dropped from fourth after the loss to Oklahoma State in the Jimmy V Classic, Kentucky and Pittsburgh rounded out the Top Ten.

Connecticut dropped four spots to No. 11 after losing at Massachusetts last week and was followed by North Carolina State, Louisville, Texas, Arizona, Iowa, Alabama, Washington, George Washington and Mississippi State.

The last five ranked teams were Michigan State, Gonzaga, Maryland, Virginia and Cincinnati.

The Bearcats, who were ranked all last season and reached as high as No. 6, moved into the poll for the first time this year off home wins last week over Vanderbilt and Detroit Mercy.

Wisconsin (5-2) fell out from 24th following its 63-54 loss to Marquette on Saturday. The Badgers were ranked in every poll this season, reaching as high as No. 20.

Virginia (7-1) had the week's biggest drop, falling from No. 19 to 24th. The Cavaliers lost 81-79 at Iowa State on Monday, then beat Furman 79-67 on Wednesday.

The ACC still has seven teams in the poll _ Georgia Tech and the three from fifth through seventh in the Top Ten as well as North Carolina State, Maryland and Virginia. This was the third straight week the ACC matched the record for one conference.