Syracuse tops men's hoops poll

Syracuse has ascended to the top of the men's college basketball rankings, taking the No. 1 spot in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday.

The Orange (10-0) moved up two places from third after losses on Saturday by Kentucky and Ohio State. It was far from a unanimous choice, as Syracuse received 51 first-place votes from a nationwide media panel and was one of five teams to earn No. 1 tallies.

It has been a rough year for Syracuse off the court, as most of the news over the past few weeks has come from the Bernie Fine sexual abuse scandal. The longtime assistant to Jim Boeheim has been accused of molesting two former ball boys and was fired on November 27.

The Orange are off to a 10-0 start for the third straight year and were last the top-ranked team on March 1, 2010. It was a one-week stay then, and this reign could also be short as Syracuse will next take the floor on Saturday at North Carolina State for its first true road game of the season.

Kentucky was No. 1 for two straight weeks, but the Wildcats played their first true road game of the season on Saturday at Indiana and came up a 73-72 loser on a last-second shot.

The Wildcats still earned four first-place votes this week and dropped only to third, just behind Ohio State, which garnered seven No. 1 votes and remained second in the poll despite a 78-67 loss at Kansas on Saturday. The Buckeyes, who also played away from Columbus for the first time this season, were again without superstar Jared Sullinger because of back spasms.

Louisville moved up one spot to fourth and North Carolina dropped a spot to fifth. The Cardinals (9-0) picked up two first-place votes and the Tar Heels notched one. The two are also separated by just one point in the overall total.

Baylor, Duke, Xavier, Connecticut and Missouri held their places from 6-10.

The second 10 consists of Marquette, Kansas, Florida, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Mississippi State, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Indiana (9-0) is one of four newcomers this week.

Michigan State, Texas A&M, Alabama, Murray State, Creighton and Vanderbilt are the last teams ranked this week. Michigan State and Murray State are ranked for the first time this season, while Vanderbilt moved back into the poll after a one-week absence and sits tied for the 25th spot with Creighton.

The Spartans have won eight in a row since dropping their first two games of the season against powerhouses North Carolina and Duke. Murray State is 10-0 and coming off a 76-72 win at Memphis on Sunday.

Memphis dropped out from 21st, while Gonzaga and Harvard also fell out of this week's poll. Gonzaga was 23rd before a home loss to Michigan State on Saturday, while Harvard was 25th and ranked for the first time ever, but lost at Connecticut on Thursday.

This week's schedule is very light as many schools take a break for exams, and the lone matchup of ranked teams takes place Saturday when Texas A&M faces Florida in Miami.