Michigan State ascends to top spot in college hoops poll

New York, NY ( - Michigan State beat Kentucky in last week's battle of the top teams in the nation and the Spartans were rewarded with the new No. 1 ranking in this week's Associated Press men's basketball poll.

It's the first top ranking for the Spartans since a two-week run during the 2000-01 campaign, the season after Michigan State's last national championship.

Michigan State received 51 first-place votes and a total of 1,608 points from a nationwide media panel, outdistancing Kansas for the top spot. The Jayhawks also prevailed in last week's blockbuster doubleheader from Chicago with a win over Duke and vaulted three places from fifth.

Kansas garnered seven No. 1 votes, as did Louisville, which remained third. Kentucky dropped three spots to fourth and Arizona moved up one spot to five. Arizona picked up the remaining five first-place votes.

Duke dipped two spots to sixth and is followed by Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Syracuse and VCU. The Buckeyes moved up two spots after a beating a ranked Marquette squad in Milwaukee on Saturday, while VCU rose four places from 14th after beating Virginia in Charlottesville.

The second 10 consists of Memphis, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Michigan, Wichita State, Florida, Oregon, Connecticut, New Mexico and Baylor. Wisconsin, after topping Florida at home last week, vaulted eight places from 20th, while Michigan tumbled seven places from seventh after a loss at Iowa State on Sunday. Michigan and Wichita State are tied for 14th. Florida dropped five places from 11th after the loss in Madison.

Iowa State joined the poll at No. 21 thanks to the victory over the Wolverines and starts a final five that also includes UCLA, Creighton, North Carolina and Marquette. North Carolina dropped 12 spots from 12th after a home loss to Belmont on Sunday, while Marquette fell eight places from 17th after the home setback to the Buckeyes.

Creighton is the other newcomer this week, while Notre Dame and Virginia dropped out. Notre Dame was 21st and lost at home to Indiana State on Sunday, while Virginia had been 25th before the three-point loss to VCU.

This week's matchups of ranked squads includes a Tuesday tilt between Memphis and Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena, while tournament play this weekend could feature VCU and Michigan in San Juan as well as Louisville and North Carolina in Connecticut.