Kansas remains runaway No. 1 atop AP Poll

By JIM O’CONNELL

AP Basketball Writer

(AP) — Chris Mooney and the Richmond
Spiders set a bunch of goals before the season, including an Atlantic
10 regular-season title and their first NCAA tournament bid in six
years.

After two road victories last week
moved the Spiders into first place in the conference, they accomplished
another goal Monday: making the Top 25 for the first time in 24 years.

“It’s really a significant
accomplishment, and we’ve been very open with our guys about this, that
it was something that we wanted to accomplish,” said Mooney, in his
fifth season in charge. “It’s not going to help us beat Fordham, but
it’s certainly going to make us feel really good and understand we’ve
been recognized in a really, really elite category.”

In a week when Kansas State climbed
to No. 7, its highest ranking in nearly five decades, the Spiders
joined the AP poll at No. 25 for the first time since January 1986.
It’s just the fourth time in school history that the small, private
school has been in the poll.

The Spiders (20-6, 9-2) host Fordham
(2-21, 0-11) on Wednesday night, trying to stretch their winning streak
to seven. Last week, they used a late 9-1 run to hand Rhode Island just
its fourth loss, 69-67, and then rolled at St. Bonaventure, 68-49.

Mooney doesn’t expect the Spiders’ new status to be a problem.

“We’ll see if it changes anything,”
he said Monday. “We didn’t want to hide from it. We wanted to seek it,
and I know that ultimately it doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished your
other goals. It doesn’t give you the championship of the A-10, or it
doesn’t give you an NCAA tournament berth, but it does mean something.”

Richmond, whose winning streak
includes a 71-54 victory over Temple, was also ranked for three weeks
in 1954-55, two weeks in 1957-58 and the one-week stint in January
1986.

Its success last week stood in contrast to four of the top 10 teams losing.

Kansas (24-1) was again a runaway
No. 1, receiving 62 first-place votes from the 65-member national media
panel to hold the top spot for the third week in a row. Kentucky
(24-1), which had the other No. 1 nods, moved up one spot to No. 2.

Villanova moved up one place to No.
3, with Purdue gaining two places to fourth, the sixth week this season
the Boilermakers have reached that spot.

Syracuse, which had its 11-game
winning streak stopped by Louisville on Sunday, dropped from second to
fifth. Duke strengthened its lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference with
a win over Maryland on Saturday and jumped from eighth to sixth.

Kansas State (20-4) achieved its
highest ranking since it was sixth in the final poll of the 1961-62
season. West Virginia, which lost to Villanova and Pitt last week, fell
to No. 8, followed by Ohio State and Georgetown, an upset victim of
Rutgers on Sunday.

Michigan State, which lost to
Purdue, dropped one spot to 11th and was followed by New Mexico,
Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Texas, BYU, Vanderbilt, Butler, Pittsburgh and
Tennessee, which dropped eight spots after losing to Vanderbilt and
Kentucky.

The last five teams were Temple, Baylor and newcomers Wake Forest, Texas A&M and Richmond.

Northern Iowa, Georgia Tech and UNLV dropped out this week.

Wake Forest (18-5), which has won
four straight and six of seven including a 75-64 victory over Georgia
Tech on Saturday, moved in for the first time this season. The Demon
Deacons, who were ranked all last season including one week at No. 1,
are in second place in the ACC.

Texas A&M (18-6) was ranked for
four weeks earlier this season and the Aggies moved back in having won
four straight and six of seven, moving into a second-place tie with
Kansas State in the Big 12 behind Kansas.

Northern Iowa (22-3), which has
clinched at least a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title,
dropped out from No. 19 following a 68-59 loss at Bradley on Saturday
that snapped a six-game winning streak.

Georgia Tech (17-8) fell out from
20th after six straight weeks in the rankings. The Yellow Jackets, who
lost to Miami and Wake Forest last week, dropped to 1-5 in ACC road
games.

UNLV (19-6) returned to the poll
last week at No. 23 after being out the previous eight weeks. The
Rebels had won seven of eight games before losing to New Mexico and San
Diego State.

Ohio State is in two of this week’s
six games between ranked teams. The Buckeyes host Purdue on Wednesday
and are at Michigan State on Sunday. The other games are: Kansas at
Texas A&M on Monday; Syracuse at Georgetown on Thursday; Kentucky
at Vanderbilt on Saturday; and Villanova at Pittsburgh on Sunday.


AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz Jr. in Richmond contributed to this report.

Updated February 15, 2010