Arizona falls to 7th in AP poll; Kansas takes over as No. 1

UCLA climbed to No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press college basketball poll on the strength of its victory over Arizona in Tucson, and the Wildcats fell from fourth to seventh.

Last week’s action also brought about a change at the very top of the poll, with Kansas moving up to No. 1 after clinching a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

The Jayhawks (26-3) captured 58 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third following losses by the top two teams in last week’s poll — Gonzaga and Villanova.

Villanova (27-3) remained second, despite its loss to Butler, and Gonzaga (29-1) tumbled to fourth after suffering its first loss of the season to BYU.

UCLA (26-3) moved up from fifth to third and earned three first-place nods after handing Arizona only its second loss in the past 69 games at McKale Center.

North Carolina moved from eighth to fifth after clinching a share of the ACC title, with Oregon, Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky and West Virginia rounding out the top 10.

Butler jumped nine spot to No. 13 with its win over Villanova. The bottom two spots in the top 25 are filled by newcomers Iowa State (19-9) and Miami (20-8). The two new additions replaced Creighton and Maryland.

Kansas, the sixth different team at the top of the poll this season, is ranked No. 1 for the 63rd time in school history, the fifth-best mark behind UCLA (134), Duke (129), Kentucky (117) and North Carolina (113).

The Jayhawks’ conference title run matches UCLA’s streak in the Pac-8 in the 1960s and `70s.

“It has been an unbelievable run,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, “but you can understand why you win 13 (straight titles). There’s been a lot of hard-rocking guys who have played here over that time.”

There are plenty of high-profile games this week as many conferences wrap up the regular season.

No. 10 West Virginia visits No. 11 Baylor and No. 5 North Carolina heads to No. 23 Virginia on Monday night, No. 15 Florida State plays at No. 17 Duke on Tuesday and No. 24 Iowa State visits West Virginia on Friday. Saturday’s schedule includes No. 25 Miami vs. Florida State, No. 19 Notre Dame vs. No. 8 Louisville, and No. 5 North Carolina vs. Duke.

There also will be a handful of NCAA Tournament bids handed out as leagues begin to crown their tournament champs. The Ohio Valley title game is Saturday, and the Missouri Valley, Atlantic Sun and Big South will crown their champions on Sunday.

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 26:

1. Kansas (58)             ­    26-3   1,618   3

 2. Villanova (2)           ­    27-3   1,487   2

 3. UCLA (3)                 ­    26-3   1,474   5

 4. Gonzaga (2)            ­    29-1   1,419   1

 5. North Carolina       ­   25-5   1,381   8

 6. Oregon              ­           26-4   1,343   6

 7. Arizona                    ­    26-4   1,223   4

 8. Louisville                ­    23-6   1,176   7

 9. Kentucky                 ­    24-5   1,119  11

10. West Virginia       ­    23-6   1,041  12

11. Baylor                      ­    23-6     923   9

12. Florida             ­           23-6     807  13

13. Butler                      ­    23-6     795  22

14. SMU                        ­    25-4     738  17

15. Florida St.         ­         23-6     722  19

16. Purdue              ­          23-6     651  14

17. Duke                ­            22-7     622  10

18. Cincinnati          ­        25-4     504  15

19. Notre Dame          ­     22-7     482  21

20. Saint Mary’s (Cal)­   26-3     445  20

21. Wichita St.         ­         27-4     250  25

22. Wisconsin           ­       22-7     206  16

23. Virginia            ­           19-9     194  18

24. Iowa St.            ­           19-9     168   –

25. Miami               ­           20-8     123   –

Others receiving votes: Minnesota 66, Oklahoma St. 54, Dayton 32, Michigan 14, Middle Tennessee 13, Creighton 12, Southern Cal 7, Monmouth (NJ) 3, Michigan St. 3, Vermont 2, Virginia Tech 2, VCU 2, Arkansas 1, BYU 1, Maryland 1, Princeton 1.