Cards #2 in AP Poll

18-1 Louisville, riding the nation's longest winning streak(17) moved up 3 spots to #2 in the AP Poll this week.

By Jim O'Connell, Associated Press, 2/10/2003 15:28

Arizona moved atop the AP men's college basketball poll Monday for the third time this season, while former No. 1 Alabama dropped out of the Top 25.

In a season in which there has not been a clear-cut No. 1, the Wildcats (18-2) moved up one place to retake the top spot they held in the preseason poll, the first five weeks of the regular season, and for another two weeks after that.

Louisville (18-1) moved up three spots to second. The Cardinals have the nation's longest winning streak at 17 games. Kentucky (18-3) also moved up three spots to third.

Florida (19-3), which moved into the No. 1 spot last week for the first time in school history, dropped to fourth following a 70-55 loss to Kentucky.

Alabama (13-7) has lost five of its last six games and dropped out from No. 22. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history six weeks ago, became the first team to fall from the rankings after being No. 1 since Indiana and Duke both did it in 1979-80, when there was a Top 20.

Arizona received 37 first-place votes and 1,753 points from the national media panel after victories over Washington and Washington State.

The Wildcats are the fifth team in the last six seasons to hold the No. 1 spot three times in a season. Duke did it last season. Cincinnati did it in 1999-2000, and Duke and North Carolina did it in 1997-98.

The most trips to No. 1 in a season was four by North Carolina in 1993-94.

Louisville, last ranked No. 2. in the preseason poll of 1986-87, was No. 1 on 27 ballots and had 1,706 points, 42 more than Kentucky, which had five first-place votes.

Rivals Louisville and Kentucky are in the Top Five for the first time since Dec. 15, 1981, when Kentucky was No. 2 and Louisville No. 3.

Fourth-ranked Florida (19-3) received two first-place votes after rebounding from the loss to Kentucky with a win over Alabama.

Oklahoma (16-3) had the only other No. 1 vote and moved from seventh to fifth. The Sooners were followed in the Top Ten by Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, Kansas and Notre Dame.

Five teams in last week's Top 10 lost six games No. 8 Maryland lost twice while Top 25 teams lost a total of 15 games.

Marquette moved up four places to No. 11, and was followed by Creighton, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Wake Forest, Maryland, Syracuse, Xavier, Mississippi State and Georgia.

The last five ranked teams were Missouri, California, Connecticut, Stanford and Saint Joseph's.

California (16-4) won at Oregon State and Oregon last week and moved back into the rankings after being out for one week. Saint Joseph's (17-3) had easy wins over Villanova and Fordham last week to move into the poll for the first time this season. The Hawks were ranked for the first polls of last season before falling out.

Purdue (15-5) dropped out from No. 24 after beating Wisconsin and losing to Minnesota. That was the Boilermakers' only Top 25 appearance this season.

Alabama, which won nine straight at the beginning of the season and was No. 1 for two weeks until losing at Utah, became the seventh school to fall out of the poll the same season it was on top. In addition to Indiana and Duke in 1979-80, it also happened to UCLA in 1965-66, Wichita State in 1964-65, Loyola of Chicago in 1963-64 and St. John's in 1951-52.

UCLA, Wichita State and Loyola all had it happen during the eight-year period when the AP had only a Top Ten. Of the six No. 1s to fall out of the poll, only Wichita State wasn't ranked in the final poll of the season.


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