Gonzaga, Baylor remain atop Top 25

While there was plenty of movement among college basketball rankings, unbeaten Gonzaga and Baylor remain entrenched in the top two spots. Texas skyrocketed to number 4 after blowing out Kansas over the weekend.

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January 5, 2021 - 9:41 AM

Villanova head coach Jay Wright in a December 2018 file image. Photo by (Yong Kim / Philadelphia Daily News / TNS

While Gonzaga and Baylor remain firmly atop The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, Shaka Smart and fourth-ranked Texas are making a push into the rankings’ top tier, too.

The top-ranked Zags and second-ranked Bears remained 1-2 in Monday’s latest Top 25 as they have all season. But the Longhorns jumped four spots after a lopsided weekend win at Kansas to earn the program’s highest ranking under their sixth-year coach, as well as its first top-5 ranking since February 2011.

“If this is the peak on Jan. 2, that would be really, really disappointing,” Smart said after the 84-59 win against the Jayhawks. “It’s something that we’ll talk a lot about. I asked the guys in the locker room if this was kind of all they wanted. Obviously that’s a rhetorical question: They want more.”

Texas (8-1) started the year at No. 19 and hadn’t cracked the top 10 under Smart before this season. The Longhorns hadn’t cracked the top five since spending three weeks at No. 3 followed by a week at No. 5 in February 2011 under former coach Rick Barnes.

THE TOP TIER

Mark Few’s Bulldogs earned 63 of 64 first-place votes in Monday’s poll, while Scott Drew’s Bears received the other vote. Gonzaga and Baylor have been 1-2 in all seven polls so far this season.

Villanova climbed one spot to No. 3 on the same day the program announced a pause in team activities, including having three games postponed through Jan. 13, due to coronavirus issues.

Iowa, Kansas, Creighton, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Michigan rounded out the top 10, while No. 11 Houston and No. 14 West Virginia slid out from that group from last week.

RISING

The Wolverines (9-0) had the week’s biggest jump, rising six spots after wins against Maryland and then-No. 19 Northwestern. Michigan has now cracked the top 10 in each of Juwan Howard’s two seasons as coach, including last year’s rapid rise from unranked to No. 4 after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

Iowa, No. 16 Minnesota and No. 19 Virginia Tech each climbed five spots, while No. 17 Oregon joined Texas and Creighton in rising four spots.

In all, 10 teams climbed from last week’s rankings.

SLIDING

No. 25 Florida State had the week’s biggest tumble, falling seven spots after losing at Clemson and then having its game against No. 21 Duke postponed due to coronavirus issues within the Seminoles program.

Houston and No. 23 Michigan State each fell six spots, while No. 18 Texas Tech joined West Virginia in sliding five spots.

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