Villanova hops over Michigan State Spartans for No. 1 spot in college basketball
By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer
Villanova’s unbeaten start now includes a No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25, while Arizona State is making a rapid rise into the top 10 under third-year coach Bobby Hurley.
After a tumultuous week in which unanimous No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kansas lost, the Wildcats (10-0) earned 41 of 65 first-place votes to hop over Michigan State and reach the top for the third straight season.
Villanova and Michigan State were the favorites to take over at the top after the Blue Devils’ weekend loss at Boston College, though there was far less certainty for voters about who was now the nation’s top team. The Spartans (9-1) earned 19 first-place votes to climb from third to second, while the other five first-place votes went to the Sun Devils — who leapt 11 spots to No. 5 after Sunday’s win at Kansas.
Arizona State (9-0) is off to its best start since the 1974-75 season. Now the Sun Devils — who also have a win against Xavier this season — have their highest ranking since reaching third during the 1980-81 season.
Wichita State climbed three spots to No. 3, followed by Duke and Arizona State. Unbeaten Miami climbed four spots to No. 6, followed by North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Xavier to round out the top 10.
Villanova helped itself with an impressive win against No. 12 Gonzaga last week in New York, though the Wildcats had to fight to the final minute Sunday to close out a La Salle team that entered at 5-5.
Villanova reached No. 1 for the first time in February 2016 and stayed there for three polls before going on to win the national championship. The Wildcats held the No. 1 spot three different times last season, including in the final poll entering the NCAA Tournament.
“We’ve been through the cycle now,” coach Jay Wright said in an interview with the AP. “We’ve been through where you’re No. 1 for the first time. That’s something you have to learn to deal with. And then you lose it.”