Villanova hops over Michigan State for No. 1 in AP Top 25
By AARON BEARD
Villanova's unbeaten start now includes a No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 , while Arizona State is making a rapid rise into the top 10 under third-year coach Bobby Hurley.
After a tumultuous week in which unanimous No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kansas lost, the Wildcats (10-0) earned 41 of 65 first-place votes to hop over Michigan State and reach the top for the third straight season.
Villanova and Michigan State were the favorites to take over at the top after the Blue Devils' weekend loss at Boston College, though there was far less certainty for voters about who was now the nation's top team. The Spartans (9-1) earned 19 first-place votes to climb from third to second, while the other five first-place votes went to the Sun Devils - who leapt 11 spots to No. 5 after Sunday's win at Kansas .
Arizona State (9-0) is off to its best start since the 1974-75 season. Now the Sun Devils - who also have a win against Xavier this season - have their highest ranking since reaching third during the 1980-81 season.
Wichita State climbed three spots to No. 3, followed by Duke and Arizona State. Unbeaten Miami climbed four spots to No. 6, followed by North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Xavier to round out the top 10.
Villanova helped itself with an impressive win against No. 12 Gonzaga last week in New York, though the Wildcats had to fight to the final minute Sunday to close out a La Salle team that entered at 5-5.
Villanova reached No. 1 for the first time in February 2016 and stayed there for three polls before going on to win the national championship. The Wildcats held the No. 1 spot three different times last season, including in the final poll entering the NCAA Tournament.
"We've been through the cycle now," coach Jay Wright said in an interview with the AP. "We've been through where you're No. 1 for the first time. That's something you have to learn to deal with. And then you lose it. And you learn how to deal with that. Then you go through it again with a new group.
"I think we've got the experience now to understand that it's a great honor but a lot of responsibility comes with it."
The Jayhawks (7-2) slid 11 spots to No. 13 after two losses last week, the first coming against Washington in Kansas City, Missouri, before losing to the Sun Devils in Allen Fieldhouse.
Only two teams - No. 8 Kentucky and No. 12 Gonzaga - stayed in the same spot. Thirteen teams rose in the poll, while four of the seven teams that fell slid at least eight spots.
Arizona State's leap was the biggest, though No. 11 West Virginia (9-1) moved up seven spots after beating then-No. 15 Virginia. No. 14 TCU (10-0) climbed six spots after a win against a then-ranked Nevada team.
Miami, UNC, No. 15 Seton Hall, No. 17 Purdue and No. 20 Tennessee all climbed four spots.
While Kansas' losses stood out, No. 22 Florida had the biggest fall of the week.
The Gators (6-3) slid 17 spots after home losses to Florida State and to Loyola Chicago - a game in which they led for all of 93 seconds. Florida salvaged a win against Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, New Jersey, to avoid a four-game skid.
No. 18 Notre Dame (8-2) fell nine spots after an upset loss to Ball State, while the No. 25 Bearcats (7-2) slid eight spots.
There were three newcomers to this week's poll, though one is more of a welcome back.
The list included No. 19 Florida State (9-0) and No. 24 Texas Tech (7-1), while Arizona returned to the rankings at No. 23.
Arizona's 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas made the Wildcats the first team in three decades to go from No. 2 in the AP Top 25 to unranked in a week. But four straight wins have the preseason Final Four favorite back in the poll.
Minnesota (No. 14 last week), Nevada (No. 22) and Southern California (No. 25) all fell out of the poll.
AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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Updated December 11, 2017