Kansas new No. 1 in men’s AP poll
Marcus Morris got his wish. Kansas is No. 1 once again.
After Ohio State’s first defeat, the one-loss Jayhawks moved up from No. 2 on Monday to the top spot in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, a familiar place for Bill Self’s program.
When they beat Iowa State on Saturday, a couple of hours after the Buckeyes lost at Wisconsin, the Jayhawks were ready to ascend.
”I want to be No. 1. I was waiting for somebody to ask me,” said Morris, Kansas’ leading scorer.
The Jayhawks (24-1, 9-1 Big 12) were ranked No. 1 for 15 weeks last season but lost to Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
”It’s great in February to be ranked this high, but we know in order to stay up there and have a chance to do what we hope to do, we’ve got to keep trying to get better,” Self said.
The Jayhawks, with forward Thomas Robinson and guard Josh Selby out with injury, were set to play at preseason Big 12 favorite Kansas State on Monday night.
”Our focus is to get better and not on the rankings,” Self said.
The poll is crowded at the top.
Kansas received 22 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel, while Ohio State received 14 first-place votes and trailed the Jayhawks by only 13 points. In third place is Texas, the only team to beat Kansas. But the Longhorns did collect the most first-place votes: 23. No. 4 Pittsburgh was No. 1 on six ballots.
Duke, which was No. 1 the first nine weeks, is No. 5. Completing the top 10 are: San Diego State, BYU, Notre Dame, Georgetown and Wisconsin.
Ohio State’s first game as No. 2 will be Tuesday night against Michigan State, which may have played the toughest non-conference schedule while facing Texas, Duke, Connecticut and Syracuse.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said the top four were tightly bunched because there was no clear-cut No. 1.
”We’ve seen Kansas a lot on film. I’ve talked to Bill Self,” Izzo said. ”He’s not enamored with them yet. Some of that was the Selby kid, but there’s a lot of depth on that team. Texas, I told you all along, was the best team we played. Pittsburgh is definitely the toughest team of that four as far as being physically tough. I don’t think there’s a North Carolina, Kentucky or Kansas of last year. Maybe I’ll find out it is Ohio State.”
Xavier enters the Top 25, replacing West Virginia.
Purdue is No. 11 followed by Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Villanova, Louisville, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, North Carolina and Missouri. No. 21 Texas A&M is followed by Kentucky, Temple, Xavier and Utah State.
With Baylor ranked No. 1 in the AP women’s poll, the Big 12 owns the top spot in both sports for the first time.
Since Self became coach in 2003, Kansas has been ranked in the top 10 in 95 AP polls.
”I think it is something that they fully recognize that we have a nice team,” he said. ”But there are a lot of other teams that could make just as strong a case for being ranked No. 1 like we can.”