New York, NY – Kentucky has ascended to the top of the Associated Press men's college basketball poll after North Carolina's loss to UNLV on Saturday dropped the Tar Heels down four places.
Kentucky and North Carolina are set to meet Saturday in Lexington, but it will no longer be a 1 vs. 2 showdown. The Tar Heels had been the top-ranked team since the preseason and suffered a 90-80 loss to the Runnin' Rebels on Saturday.
The Wildcats, who had been ranked second since the preseason poll, received 46 first-place votes and a total of 1,599 points from a nationwide media panel. Before the visit from North Carolina, Kentucky will host St. John's on Thursday as part of the Big East/SEC Challenge.
Ohio State picked up 17 first-place votes to move up one spot to No. 2, while Duke garnered two top tallies and vaulted three places to third after winning the Maui Invitational. The Buckeyes and Blue Devils will square off on Tuesday in Columbus as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Syracuse, which won the NIT Season Tipoff, moved up one spot to fourth and is followed by North Carolina, Louisville, Baylor, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Florida. Connecticut dropped four places from fourth after a surprising loss to UCF on Friday in the Bahamas and followed it up with an overtime win over Florida State.
The second 10 consists of Xavier, Alabama, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Marquette, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Gonzaga and Vanderbilt. Missouri moved up eight places from 21st after winning the CBE Classic last week, while UNLV had been unranked before Saturday's stunning win over North Carolina.
Mississippi State, Memphis, Saint Louis, California and Texas A&M are the last five teams ranked. Memphis tumbled 15 places from eighth after a pair of losses at the Maui Invitational, while Saint Louis is another newcomer with an unblemished record that includes wins over Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma at the 76 Classic in Anaheim this past weekend.
Florida State and Arizona dropped out of this week's poll. Florida State had been No. 22, but lost to Harvard before Saturday's setback against UConn, while Arizona was 23rd and lost at home last week to San Diego State.
This week's schedule is filled with matchups of ranked teams thanks in part to the Big East/SEC Challenge and the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
In addition to the Duke/Ohio State contest, North Carolina will host Wisconsin on Wednesday, while Florida will travel to Syracuse and Louisville will welcome Vanderbilt on Friday. Saturday's schedule, in addition to the North Carolina/Kentucky matchup, will include Marquette making the short trip to Madison for a tussle with Wisconsin.