UConn No. 1 for 1st time since ’09; Zags fall out

Connecticut has followed last year’s run to the NCAA championship with its first No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll in nearly 15 years, while Gonzaga has fallen out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in eight years.

The Huskies moved to the top of Monday’s latest poll after a tumultuous and upset-filled week across the sport, which included five new teams jumping into the poll. UConn claimed 39 of 63 first-place votes to climb three spots and replace Purdue at the top after the Boilermakers’ loss at Nebraska dropped them to No. 2.

This marks the first time UConn has hit No. 1 in the AP Top 25 since spending four weeks there in the second half of the 2008-09 season, which ended with the Huskies reaching the Final Four.

“Some people don’t want the target,” coach Dan Hurley said last week about the potential of reaching No. 1. “I think we embrace the target at UConn.”

Purdue claimed 20 first-place votes, followed by Kansas — the poll’s only team to stay in place from last week — holding three first-place votes despite a loss at UCF.

There was also North Carolina’s three-spot jump to No. 4 after beating rival North Carolina State for its third Atlantic Coast Conference road win in as many tries and blowing out Syracuse at home. UNC even picked up a first-place vote.

Gonzaga fell out from No. 23 after a loss at Santa Clara, marking the first time Mark Few’s club has been unranked since the final two months of the 2015-16 season.

That ended a stretch of 143 consecutive weeks in the poll, with 39 of those coming at No. 1 — notably with that wire-to-wire run in the 2020-21 season that ended with Gonzaga suffering its only loss in the NCAA title game to Baylor.

The past week turned into a trap-filled slate for the AP Top 25 teams. Eight of the top 10 teams lost at least once, with No. 5 Houston losing two games by a combined five points for its first setbacks of the year.

But with 15 ranked teams losing last week, that insulated some teams from falling as much with everyone around them also stumbling. That ultimately meant the Cougars dropped just three spots to No. 5, while Purdue, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 8 Kentucky fell just one or two spots after their own losses to unranked teams.

Duke rose four spots to No. 7 to return to the top 10 after starting the year at No. 2, followed by the Wildcats, No. 9 Baylor and No. 10 Memphis.

Ten teams moved up in this week’s poll, with the Bears’ jump of five spots marking the biggest of the week. No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Utah State and No. 18 Creighton joined the Blue Devils with four-spot jumps.

Oklahoma and Marquette had the week’s biggest tumble, each falling six spots. The 15th-ranked Sooners fell after road losses to TCU and Kansas, while the 17th-ranked Golden Eagles lost at home to Butler.

No. 12 Arizona and No. 14 Illinois each fell four spots, while a total of nine teams slid from last week’s poll.

No. 19 TCU made the biggest debut to lead the week’s five newcomers to the poll after wins against Oklahoma and Houston.

No. 21 Dayton, No. 22 Mississippi, No. 24 Iowa State and No. 25 Texas Tech were the other additions, with all but the Rebels making their first appearance for this season.

Colorado State (No. 17), San Diego State (No. 19), Clemson (No. 21) and Texas (No. 25) joined the Zags in falling out of the poll.

The Big 12 represented almost a third of this Top 25 with a national-best eight teams.

The SEC was next with four teams, followed by the Big Ten and Big East with three, the Atlantic Coast and American Athletic conferences with two, and one each for the Pac-12, Atlantic-10 and Mountain West.

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