Breaking down this week’s Associated Press college basketball poll:
VIRGINIA RISING: Virginia jumped from No. 12 to fifth in this week’s poll, the Cavaliers’ first appearance in the Top Ten since the 2001-02 season, when they reached as high as No. 4.
Saturday’s win over Syracuse gave Virginia its first outright Atlantic Coast Conference title since 1980-81. The Cavaliers, featuring three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson, were in the Top Ten the entire season, spent four weeks at No. 1 and reached the Final Four.
Virginia was No. 24 in this season’s preseason Top 25 and fell to 25th in the first week of the regular season. The Cavaliers dropped out of the poll the next week and didn’t return until four weeks ago at No. 20. They moved up every week until reaching No. 5 on Monday.
OPENING BID: The first spot in the NCAA tournament’s field of 68 can be decided Friday when Harvard visits Yale.
The Ivy League is the only one of the 32 conferences with an automatic bid not to have a tournament. Harvard has clinched at least a share of the title for a fourth straight season. If there is a tie the Ivy League has a one-game playoff.
BACK IN: Connecticut and Oklahoma are back in the Top 25 this week.
Connecticut, which has won six of seven, including a 51-45 victory over then -No. 11 Cincinnati on Saturday, moved in at No. 19. The Huskies had been out for one week after a three-week run. They were No. 18 in the preseason poll and reached as high as ninth before falling out of the poll for the first time.
Oklahoma returned as No. 23 after being out for three weeks. The Sooners have won three of four, with the only loss to Kansas. They come in off a 77-65 victory over Texas.
SEE YA: Ohio State fell out of the rankings for the second time this season. The Buckeyes fell from No. 22 after losses last week to Penn State and Indiana. Ranked 11th in the preseason Top 25, the Buckeyes reached as high as No. 3 when they started the season 15-0. They fell out for one week before returning to the poll the last three weeks.
Texas, which was No. 24 last week, fell out after a five-week run in the poll, when it reached as high as 15th. The Longhorns have lost three of four, including the 77-65 defeat to Oklahoma last weekend.
GATOR ONE: This is the second straight week Florida is No. 1 and the Gators’ 12th week ever on top. They are in a tie on the all-time list with Arkansas, Georgetown and Virginia. The all-time leader is UCLA at 134 weeks on top.
DOUBLE-RANKED GAMES: There are eight games featuring two ranked teams this week and half will involve the American Athletic Conference.
On Wednesday, No. 11 Louisville, tied for first place, is at No. 18 SMU, which is one game out in third. On Thursday, No. 20 Memphis, tied for fourth, is at No. 15 Cincinnati, the other team tied for first. On Saturday, SMU is at Memphis and No. 19 Connecticut, tied for fourth, is at Louisville.
On Thursday, No. 24 Iowa is at No. 22 Michigan State in the Big Ten.
On Saturday, No. 25 Kentucky is at No. 1 Florida in the SEC, No. 14 North Carolina is at No. 4 Duke in the ACC, and No. 21 New Mexico visits No. 10 San Diego State in the Mountain West.
The Associated Press