Arizona, Kansas, Purdue lead AP Top 25 poll; Oklahoma, Clemson make big jumps; Northwestern debuts

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Arizona strengthened its place atop The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll Monday, setting up a showdown this weekend against Purdue, the former No. 1 team in the nation.

The Wildcats earned all but one first-place vote from a panel of 63 voters, no doubt impressing them with their 98-73 win over the No. 23 Badgers. They picked up three first-place votes to remain atop the poll for the second straight week, while Kansas remained at No. 2 and Purdue — which Arizona had supplanted at No. 1 — moved up one spot to third after wins over Iowa and Alabama.

The Wildcats (8-0) play the Boilermakers (9-1) on Saturday in Indianapolis.

“We spend a lot of time talking about Arizona basketball legacy,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said over the weekend, “and this group right now, we’re in the sun. The sun is shining on us right now.”

Houston received the only No. 1 vote that didn’t go to the Wildcats but still dropped one spot to fourth. UConn remained at No. 5 after beating ninth-ranked North Carolina and Arkansas-Pine Bluff last week.

Baylor again gave the Big 12 half of the top six teams in the country. The Bears were followed at No. 6 by Marquette, Creighton, the Tar Heels and Gonzaga, which fell three spots to No. 10 after its 78-73 loss to Washington.

“We’ve got a long season. Big games coming up,” said Bulldogs forward Anton Watson, whose team will play fifth-ranked UConn on Friday night in Seattle. “I don’t think one loss, two losses, is going to determine a season. We all have that mindset.”

While there was little movement within the top 10 this week, there were some wild swings within the rest of the Top 25.

Oklahoma made one of the biggest jumps, climbing eight spots to No. 11 after wins over Providence and Arkansas. The unbeaten Sooners were followed by Tennessee, which climbed five spots, and undefeated Clemson, which moved up No. 11 after beating South Carolina and TCU to remain one of the seven teams with perfect records left in Division I basketball.

Kentucky moved up two spots to No. 14 while Florida Atlantic fell four spots to No. 15 after its loss to Illinois.

The Illini slotted in right behind the Owls, while Colorado State, BYU, Texas and James Madison round out the top 20. Duke was at No. 21, followed by Virginia, Wisconsin, Miami and Northwestern at No. 25. The Wildcats (7-1) are ranked for the second straight season but only the seventh time since the 1968-69 season.

“I hear about it at home. My daughter is probably the biggest one that was mad that we didn’t get ranked last week. She’s the one that has been yelling and screaming that we need to be in the Top 25,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins, whose team is off to its best eight-game start since the 2015-16 season. “Those are all nice rewards for a team that is playing hard and working hard, but we’re not worried about that. Our whole focus right now is winning basketball games.”

RISING AND FALLING

The No. 11 Sooners play Green Bay this week before a high-profile matchup with the ninth-ranked Tar Heels next week. No. 13 Clemson also will have a chance to keep climbing when it visits Memphis — which is receiving votes — on Saturday.

Miami fell nine spots to No. 24 after its 90-63 loss to Colorado, which was almost enough to get the Buffalos ranked; they were the first team outside the Top 25. Texas fell seven spots after losing to Marquette and beating Houston Christian.

IN AND OUT

Virginia returned to the poll at No. 22 after being ranked for a week last month. Northwestern made its Top 25 season debut.

Texas A&M dropped out of the poll after losing to Memphis on Sunday. San Diego State also fell out after losing to Grand Canyon, which has never been ranked but received one vote for No. 25 this week.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Big 12 not only has three of the top six teams but six in the Top 25, including league newcomers Houston (No. 4) and BYU (No. 18) and soon-to-depart Oklahoma (No. 11) and Texas (No. 19). The Big East, Big Ten and ACC have four apiece in the Top 25, though the Big East has three of the top eight in UConn (No. 5), Marquette (No. 7) and Creighton (No. 8).

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