Tigers up to No. 11 in AP poll

Posted

The Clemson men's basketball team moved to the cusp of The Associated Press top 10 on Monday, moving up five spots to No. 11.

The Tigers, who are 20-4 on the season and in second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 9-3 mark, took advantage of a topsy-turvy week in college basketball. Clemson played just one game last week and blasted Pittsburgh 72-48.

Clemson jumped past Duke, Kansas, St. Mary's (Calif.), Arizona and Tennessee.

The Tigers moved up three spots in the USA Today poll, going from 15th to 12th.

Clemson is the second highest ranked ACC team behind No. 1 Virginia. In a demonstration of how odd the week was, a loss didn't prevent Virginia from climbing to No. 1 in the AP men's basketball poll for the first time in more than 35 years.

The Cavaliers rose a slot despite an overtime home loss Saturday to Virginia Tech, part of an upset-filled week that allowed for plenty of uncertainty in the poll. The Cavaliers (23-2, 12-1 ACC) earned 30 of 65 first-place votes to outdistance No. 2 Michigan State -- which is No. 1 in the USA Today poll -- and rise above the turmoil that included last week's top three teams all losing.

Tony Bennett's Cavaliers had been at No. 2 before this season, but this is the first time the program has reached No. 1 since December 1982 - the senior season of 7-foot-4 great Ralph Sampson - back when the poll ranked only 20 teams. And that team fell out of that spot after its improbable upset loss to Chaminade in Hawaii, regarded by many as the biggest upset in the history of college sports.

Virginia looked set to reach the No. 1 spot after Villanova's home loss to St. John's before losing to the Hokies . Still, the Cavaliers ended up there a day after the NCAA selection committee had them as the No. 1 overall seed in its reveal of the top 16 seeds to date.

Clemson is rated as a No. 3 seed.

TOP-5 CHANGES

Michigan State (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) climbed two spots after a weekend win against Purdue in a top-5 matchup. The Spartans, who reached No. 1 for a week in January, earned 21 first-place votes.

Next came Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East), who fell to third after a five-week stay at No. 1 and earned nine first-place votes. Xavier (23-3, 11-2 Big East) inched up a spot to fourth and earned five first-place votes, followed by Cincinnati (23-2, 12-0 American Athletic Conference) at No. 5.

This is Xavier's highest ranking in its history, while Cincinnati is in the top 5 for the first time since spending a good chunk of the 2001-02 season there.

PURDUE'S SLIDE

Purdue (23-4, 12-2 Big East) fell from third to sixth after losing to Ohio State and Michigan State last week. Those losses snapped the nation's longest winning streak at 19 games, marking Purdue's first losses since falling to Tennessee and Western Kentucky on consecutive November days in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

Texas Tech was next at No. 7, followed by Ohio State, Gonzaga and Auburn to round out the top 10.

TOP RISERS

Rivalry wins against Duke and North Carolina State helped North Carolina climb seven spots to No. 14 for the week's biggest jump. It continued the Tar Heels' wild swings in poll positioning, including a nine-slot drop last month and two other slides of eight slots.

Ohio State rose six spots to No. 8 after the Purdue win.

LONGEST SLIDES

Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young had the biggest fall of the week, down six spots to No. 23. The Sooners have lost three straight and six of eight after Saturday's loss at Iowa State .

St. Mary's (15th) and Arizona (17th) both fell four spots.

NEWCOMERS

The newcomers aren't entirely new this week. Both No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 25 Arizona State have been ranked multiple weeks this season and appeared in the top 10, with the Sun Devils reaching No. 3 on Christmas Day.

SLIDING OUT

Kentucky fell out of the rankings for the second time this season - It hadn't happened since March 2014 before this year - from No. 24 after three straight losses. Miami fell out from No. 25 after losing at Boston College.