Purdue solidified its No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll following UConn‘s first loss of the season, while No. 23 Charleston moved into the rankings for the first time in 20 years.
The Boilermakers remained No. 1 for the fourth straight week, receiving all but one first-place vote from a 61-person media panel in the poll released Monday. No. 2 Houston and No. 3 Kansas each moved up a spot, and No. 4 UConn dropped two spots after losing to Xavier, which moved up from No. 22 to No. 18. Arizona rounded out the top five.
Purdue lasted only one week after hitting No. 1 for the first time last season, but it has tightened its grip this season since moving to the top spot on Dec. 12.
“Competition is going to get harder and teams are going to know what to scout,” Purdue’s Mason Gillis said. “There are going to be closer games down toward the end. We’ll find out who can play under pressure.”
UConn (14-1, 3-1 Big East) had been off to its best start since 1998 before losing 83-73 to Xavier, which has won eight straight.
Charleston put together a solid first season under Pat Kelsey a year ago, winning 17 games. The Cougars almost have matched that already this season to enter the AP Top 25 for the first time since a one-week stint at No. 25 in 2002-03.
Charleston (14-1, 2-0 CAA) lost to then-No. 1 North Carolina in its second game and has since reeled off 13 straight wins. The Cougars outlasted Colonial Athletic Association preseason favorite Towson 76-74 in overtime on Saturday.
New Mexico cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time in eight years last week and won both of its games.
The Lobos beat Colorado State 88-69 on Thursday in front of more than 15,000 people, the largest crowd at The Pit in seven years. They then pulled out a 76-75 win at Wyoming on Saturday for their best start since going 17-0 in 1967-68.
No. 18 Xavier had the largest jump within the poll, climbing four spots after its win over UConn. No. 11 Virginia and No. 12 Miami were the only other teams to climb more than one spot, each moving up two.
IN AND OUT
North Carolina’s return to the poll didn’t last long.
The Tar Heels, the preseason No. 1, moved back into the poll at No. 25 last week after a tumultuous start to the season. North Carolina is again outside looking in, dropping out after losing to Pittsburgh.