Villanova still No. 1, Arizona State up to No. 3 in AP poll
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona State was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12. Now the Sun Devils are one of the biggest surprises in college basketball, inching toward the program’s first No. 1 ranking.
Arizona State moved up two spots to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 released on Monday, leapfrogging preseason No. 1 Duke after Wichita State dropped out of the top 10.
Villanova was No. 1 for the second straight week, receiving 45 of 65 first-place votes from a media panel. Michigan State stayed at No. 2 and received 15 first-place votes, with Arizona State getting the final five first-place votes to match its highest ranking as a program.
No. 5 North Carolina, Miami, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Xavier and West Virginia rounded out the top 10.
Arizona State had been No. 5, right behind Duke, but moved past the Blue Devils after rallying from a shaky start to handily beat Vanderbilt on Sunday. The Sun Devils are 10-0 and one of the most exciting teams to watch in college basketball, led by four freewheeling guards who have helped turn ASU into ”Guard U.”
Arizona State rallied from a 13-0 hole to beat Vanderbilt 76-64 on Sunday, following a program-defining win at Kansas last week.
The Sun Devils received first-place votes for the first time in last week’s poll and have matched their highest ranking, also accomplished in 1981 and 1963.
”They play with a lot of intensity and you have to match that intensity the whole game,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said after Sunday’s game.
Moving into the top spot in the AP Top 25 could cause some teams to feel pressure. Not at Villanova.
The Wildcats (11-0) won a national championship in 2016 and have reached No. 1 each of the past three seasons. The handled their first game as No. 1 this season with ease, blowing past Temple 87-67 behind another huge game by Jalen Brunson.
Villanova’s junior guard scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-16 shooting, made 6 of 10 from the 3-point arc, had six rebounds and five assists in 38 turnover-free minutes.
”He’s just terrific, plays with a great pace, so smart, great toughness,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. ”His efficiency is ridiculous.”
SHOCKERS FALL, SOONERS RISE
Wichita State had been on a good run since losing by one to Notre Dame in the championship game of the Maui Invitational, winning four straight games to reach No. 3 in the AP Top 25.
The Shockers (8-2) dropped eight spots to No. 11 in this week’s poll after running into Oklahoma and phenomenal freshman Trae Young.
Young, who leads the nation in scoring and is third in assists, had 29 points and 10 assists in Oklahoma’s 91-83 victory. The Sooners (8-1) moved into the poll this week at No. 17.
Creighton was the only other team to move into the poll, entering at No. 25 after beating Maryland Eastern Shore last week.
Florida reached No. 5 in the AP Top 25 after a thrilling double-overtime victory over Gonzaga in the PK80 Invitational. The Gators have gone south since then, dropping spots each week while losing three of four.
Florida (6-4) dropped out of the poll completely this week after losing to Clemson.
Notre Dame has gone on a similar slide. The Fighting Irish (8-3) moved up to No. 5 not long after winning the Maui title, but dropped out from No. 18 this week after losing to Indiana in overtime.
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