|Ole Miss, Rhode Island in the poll for first time; Washington State gets highest ranking ever|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 December 2007 09:27|
For the fourth straight week, North Carolina, Memphis and Kansas were the top three teams in the rankings. Then came the changes courtesy of the high-profile games that handed three teams their first loss of the season.
Pittsburgh's 65-64 victory over Duke in overtime last Thursday was the first of the marquee matchups with Memphis' 85-71 win over Georgetown and Michigan State's 78-72 victory over Texas, both on Saturday, capping the early season treats in a month usually reserved for mismatches.
Washington State moved up three spots to No. 4, the highest ranking in school history, while Mississippi and Rhode Island both cracked the Top 25 for the first time this season.
North Carolina, which beat Nicholls State and UC Santa Barbara last week, held the No. 1 spot as it has since the preseason poll. The Tar Heels (11-0) received 47 first-place votes and 1,774 points from the 72-member national media panel, easily ahead of Memphis (10-0), which was No. 1 on 24 ballots and had 1,740 points.
Kansas (12-0), which beat Georgia Tech and Miami of Ohio last week, had the only other first-place vote.
The Tigers' big home win over Georgetown got them five more first-place votes from last week. They took one each from North Carolina and Kansas and picked up two from Texas and one from Georgetown.
Washington State (11-0) was fourth followed by UCLA, Pittsburgh, Michigan State, Georgetown, Texas and Duke. Washington State's previous highest ranking was sixth earlier this season.
M, Vanderbilt, Butler, Arizona, Villanova, Miami and BYU.
The last five ranked teams were Clemson, Mississippi, West Virginia, Southern California and Rhode Island.
The first losses of the season sent Texas down five spots, Georgetown three and Duke four.
Mississippi (11-0) moved into the rankings for the first time since the 2000-01 season after winning the San Juan Shootout last week with wins over DePaul, La Salle and Clemson. The championship game was a matchup of unbeatens and the Rebels prevailed 85-82.
Rhode Island (11-1) was last ranked in the first week of 1998-99. The Rams beat Hofstra 88-69 on Saturday and that followed wins over two Big East teams - Providence and Syracuse. Their only loss was at Boston College.
``I think it is a big deal considering where the program was when I took over,'' seventh-year coach Jim Baron, who took over a program that had won a total of 12 games the previous two seasons, said Monday. ``It's nice to have this kind of notoriety for our kids because we know where we came from. We've had to redo the program from soup to nuts.
``We have some quality kids with an understanding of what we need to do and they've come together really nicely and now it's just a matter of being consistent.''
Gonzaga (9-3) lost 72-68 to Oklahoma last week, its second loss in three games, and fell out of the Top 25 for the first time this season. The Bulldogs, who were 14th in the preseason poll, fell out from No. 18.
Oregon (8-3), which was No. 12 in the preseason poll, fell out from 23rd after a 68-62 loss to Oakland, Mich. last week. It was the Ducks' second straight loss as they fell at Nebraska in overtime the week before. It end a run of 21 straight weeks in the Top 25 for Oregon.
Pittsburgh's move from 11th to No. 6 was the highest jump in the poll this week, while Clemson's fall from 15th to No. 21 was the biggest drop.
The only game involving two ranked teams this week is Arizona's visit to Memphis on Saturday.