Monday, December 23, 2002
By JIM O'CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer
The school that has won six Associated Press national football championships moved to the top of the AP college basketball poll Monday for the first time ever.
The Crimson Tide (8-0) moved up one spot following Arizona's loss at LSU on Saturday night, giving the Top 25 a No. 1 team other than the Wildcats for the first time this season.
Alabama, which beat Providence 69-61 in its only game last week, were to play Morehead State on Monday night. Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried declined to talk about the No. 1 ranking until after the game.
The highest Alabama had been ranked before this season was No. 3, for two weeks in the 1976-77 season.
Alabama is the 48th school to hold the No. 1 spot since the AP poll began in 1948, and the fourth current member of the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky and Arkansas have been No. 1, as has South Carolina, but the Gamecocks did it in 1969-70 when they were a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Crimson Tide received 35 first-place votes and 1,718 points from the national media panel.
Pittsburgh (8-0), which beat Ohio State and Rhode Island last week, was No. 1 on 14 ballots and had 1,673 points to jump from fourth to second, matching its highest ranking ever. The Panthers were No. 2 for two weeks in 1987-88.
Duke (6-0), which beat North Carolina A&T in its only game last week, stayed third and had 16 first-place votes and 1,657 points, 106 more than Arizona.
The Wildcats (5-1) were No. 1 in the preseason poll and for the first five weeks of the regular season before losing to LSU (7-1), which moved into the Top 25 at No. 24.
Wake Forest, at No. 25, was the week's other newcomer as Stanford and Minnesota fell out of the rankings.
Oklahoma (6-1) and Connecticut (7-0) each moved up two spots to fifth and sixth, while Illinois (8-0) received the only other first-place vote and jumped from 12th to No. 7 after an 85-70 victory over Missouri on Saturday.
Notre Dame and Texas both moved up one place to eight and ninth, respectively, and Indiana rounded out the Top Ten, falling from No. 6 after the 70-64 loss to Kentucky on Saturday.
Oregon, which lost 77-52 to Cincinnati on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic before beating Florida A&M and Minnesota, dropped from fifth, its highest ranking ever, to No. 11.
Following the Ducks were Florida, Marquette, Kentucky, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Creighton, Kansas and Tulsa.
The last five ranked teams were Xavier, North Carolina, Maryland, LSU and Wake Forest.
LSU moved in at No. 24 following its second win ever over a No. 1 team. The Tigers were last ranked in 1999-00 when they were in the Top 25 for the last seven weeks of the season.
Wake Forest (6-0) moved into the rankings off an 84-72 win over St. John's. The Demon Deacons were ranked for all but four weeks last season, getting as high as 14th.
Stanford (7-3) dropped out from No. 17 after losing consecutive home games to Montana and Richmond, then rebounding for wins over UC Irvine and UNLV. The Cardinal jumped into the poll at No. 17 following a run to the championship game of the Preseason NIT that included wins over Xavier and Florida, both Top Ten teams at the time. Stanford lost to North Carolina in the title game and was ranked for three weeks.
Minnesota, which returned to the poll last week at No. 25 after a one-week absence, fell out after a 90-81 loss at Oregon. The Gophers (6-2) have lost both their road games this season.