Wisconsin Grabs Top Spot in AP Poll

Monday, February 19th 2007, 12:37 pm
By: News On 6

Get ready for another 1 vs. 2 showdown in the Big Ten _ this time on the hardwood. Wisconsin was the new No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Monday and Big Ten rival Ohio State was not far behind at No. 2.

The Badgers (26-2, 12-1), on top of the poll for the first time in school history, play the Buckeyes (24-3, 11-1) in Columbus on Sunday _ just a bit more than three months after Ohio State and Michigan played a much-hyped 1 vs. 2 football game at Ohio Stadium.

Florida's 83-70 loss at Vanderbilt on Saturday snapped the Gators' 17-game winning streak and dropped them from the top spot in the media poll for the second time this season.

Wisconsin, which was No. 3 last week, leapfrogged second-ranked Ohio State to become the fourth No. 1 this season, and 52nd different school to hold the top spot in the history of the AP poll.

The Badgers received 35 first-place votes and 1,747 points. Ohio State got 31 first-place votes and 1,728 points. No 3 Florida received four first-place votes and No. 4 UCLA got two.

For the Big Ten, it's the first time the league best known for its football has had the top two teams in the AP basketball poll. The last time the same conference had Nos. 1 and 2 was last season, when the Big East had Connecticut at No. 1 and Villanova No. 2 in the second-to-last poll.

The last 1 vs. 2 game was also last season. No. 1 Duke defeated No. 2 Texas 97-66 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey on Dec. 10, 2005.

The current Blue Devils returned to the rankings at No. 18 after a one-week absence. A four-game losing streak ended an 11-year run in the Top 25 for Duke. The Blue Devils were ranked in 200 straight polls, the second longest streak ever.

But last week Duke beat Boston College on the road and Georgia Tech at home and the voters rewarded the Blue Devils.

The bottom of the rankings received a major shake-up as teams ranked 18-25 last week went 3-13.

Vanderbilt, Texas, Louisville, BYU and Virginia also moved into the Top 25. For Louisville, which beat two ranked teams _ Pittsburgh and Marquette _ on the road, and BYU, it's the first time this season they've been ranked. The Cougars haven't been in the Top 25 since March 1993.

Dropping out were Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Boston College, Indiana and Southern California.

Duke's Atlantic Coast Conference rival and Tobacco Road neighbor, North Carolina, slipped a spot to No. 5 after a 1-1 week. Kansas jumped up three spots to No. 6.

Memphis, Texas A&M, Washington State and Pittsburgh rounded out the Top 10.

The Badgers and Buckeyes will not only be playing for the No. 1 ranking Sunday, but also for the inside track to a Big Ten regular-season title.

Alando Tucker, who has seven consecutive 20-point games and is a leading candidate for national player of the year, and the Badgers defeated Ohio State 72-69 last month in Madison and begin the week with a half game lead on the Buckeyes.

Coach Bo Ryan's Badgers started the season ranked ninth, dipped to 12th and have been on the rise ever since. An experienced team that starts three seniors and two juniors, Wisconsin has already set a school record for victories in a season.

The Buckeyes have been in the top 10 all season thanks to one of the best freshmen classes in the country.

Seven-footer Greg Oden leads the team in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (9.5) and is shooting 61 percent from the field with 71 blocked shots in 20 games. Fellow frosh Mike Conley Jr. (10.1) and Daequan Cook (11.9) combine to average 22 points per game.

No. 11 Nevada leads the second 10 in the Top 25, followed by Georgetown and No. 13 Southern Illinois, which has its highest ranking ever. The Salukis reached No. 15 in March 2004.

Air Force was 14th and Butler, which lost to Southern Illinois on Saturday, dropped two spots to No. 15.

No. 16 Marquette has lost three straight games and slipped four spots in the rankings.

No. 17 Duke, Vanderbilt, Texas and Louisville round out the top 20.

BYU, West Virginia, Oregon, which fell eight spots to No. 23 after losing twice last week, Virginia and Alabama are the final five.