March 1, 2010 – By John Ritter
Losses by Kansas and Kentucky over the weekend have shaken up the college basketball polls, and Syracuse is left standing at the top.
For the first time since 2003, the Orange reached the peak of the national landscape with 23 first-place votes and 766 total points in the recent ESPN/USA Today poll. The last time Syracuse was no. 1, it was celebrating a National Championship.
The Orange were able to stay upright in a weekend of parody in which the Jayhawks lost to unranked Okahoma State, and the Wildcats fell to Tennessee. Syracuse beat Providence before shelling Villanova in front of a record crowd to maintain it’s Big East lead, and will enter the conference tournament with the top-seed and a bye in the first round. It was only the Orange’s second win in their last seven at home against Villanova.
Kansas, still favored for the title in College Basketball Sportsbooks, is second with seven first-place votes, and Kentucky fell to third in Monday’s poll. Duke and Kansas State round out the top-5. The Blue Devils were the only team other than the Jayhawks and Orange to receive a first-place vote.
Without sharpshooter Robbie Hummel, Purdue fell out of the top-5, and are bracing for a free fall without it’s second-leading scorer. Earlier in the week, head coach Matt Painter told ESPN he believed the Boilermakers were still headed in the right direction, but for now, they are ranked sixth and could be in for a three-seed in the Big Ten tournament.
Ohio State, which is a half game ahead of Purdue and Michigan State in the Big Ten, is seventh, followed by West Virginia, Villanova and New Mexico.
The Lobos won a critical Mountain West game against Brigham Young over the weekend.
Butler, Michigan State, Tennessee, Gonzaga and BYU start off the next ten.
Then it’s Temple, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and Georgetown. The Hoyas had another rough week, losing to Notre Dame. They have lost three of four and dropped from 13th to 20th.
The final five are UTEP, Baylor, Maryland, Texas A&M and Texas.
The Terrapins reaching the polls means the ACC has two teams ranked after having only one last week. It was the first time in over 20 years the conference only had one in the polls.