Northwestern in AP poll for first time in 40 years

It usually isn’t big news when a team from the Big Ten moves into

The Associated Press’ college basketball poll. It is when that team

is Northwestern.

The Wildcats moved into the poll on Monday at No. 25, their

first appearance in the rankings since January 1969, when it was

still just a Top 20.

With Kansas again a runaway No. 1, as it has been since the

preseason poll, the top eight teams remained the same for the third

straight week.

The Jayhawks (11-0), who beat California 84-69 in their only

game last week, received 52 first-place votes from the 65-member

national media panel.

Texas (11-0), which beat Michigan State 79-68 last week for

its second straight win over a top 10 team, was No. 1 on 11 ballots

and remained second, while Kentucky(13-0) had one first-place vote

and was third.

Purdue (11-0) was fourth, followed by Syracuse (12-0) —

which had the other first-place vote — West Virginia (10-0), Duke

and Villanova.

North Carolina and Connecticut both moved up a spot to round

out the top 10.

Northwestern (10-1) has won nine straight games since a loss

to Butler. The Wildcats, the only team from a BCS conference to

never play in the NCAA tournament, were ranked for three weeks

during the 1968-69 season. They made the poll only two other times:

for one week in 1954-55; and seven weeks in 1958-59.

Three other teams moved into the rankings this week. No. 22

Florida State (11-2) and No. 23 Wisconsin (10-2) were both ranked

for one week earlier this season. UAB (11-1) moved in at No. 24,

the Blazers’ first ranking since the final poll of 2005-06.

Butler, which lost to UAB last week, dropped out from No. 20.

The Bulldogs (8-4) were 11th in the preseason poll and were ranked

in the six previous regular-season polls. The other teams to fall

out were all ranked for the last four weeks: No. 18 Florida (8-3),

No. 19Texas A&M (9-3) and No. 25 Gonzaga (8-3) all moved into

the Top 25 four weeks ago.

Michigan State fell two spots to 11th and was followed by

Kansas State, Georgetown, Tennessee, Ohio State, Mississippi,

Washington, Temple, New Mexico and Texas Tech.

The bottom five ranked teams were Clemson, Florida State,

Wisconsin, UAB and Northwestern.

New Mexico (12-1) had the week’s biggest fall, dropping six

places to 19th after a 75-66 loss at Oral Roberts.

The addition of Wisconsin and Northwestern gives the Big Ten

five ranked teams, tying the Big East for most in the Top 25. The

Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference both have four.

There are six games between ranked teams this week with the

headliner Friday’s matchup between Purdue and West Virginia, two of

the six remaining unbeaten teams in Division I.