Tuesday, March 10, 2009
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North Carolina back on top of poll

Illini drop out of top 25

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[March 10, 2009]  PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- North Carolina edged Pittsburgh for No. 1 in The Associated Press' college basketball poll on Monday in one of the closest votes ever.

InsuranceThe Tar Heels (27-3), who were an unanimous No. 1 in the preseason poll and for the first seven weeks of the season, moved up one place to reclaim the top spot after beating Duke on Sunday to win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

Pittsburgh (28-3) moved up one place after beating Connecticut for a second time this season when the Huskies were ranked No. 1. The Panthers finished tied for second in the Big East with Connecticut, one game behind Louisville.

North Carolina received 35 first-place votes and 1,734 points from the 71-member national media panel. Pittsburgh was No. 1 on 33 ballots and had 1,731 points.

On Jan. 27, 1981, Oregon State and Virginia tied for No. 1, the only time that has happened since the poll began in the 1948-49 season.


Connecticut (27-3), which had moved back to No. 1 last week, dropped to third and was followed by Memphis, Louisville, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Wake Forest, Duke and Villanova.

Memphis (28-3), which has the nation's longest winning streak at 22 games and completed its third straight unbeaten regular season in Conference USA, received two No. 1 votes, while Louisville (25-5) received the other first-place vote.

The ACC -- North Carolina, Wake Forest and Duke -- and Big East -- Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Louisville and Villanova -- accounted for all but three spots in the top 10. The five teams that have held No. 1 this season -- North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Duke and Connecticut -- are all from those two conferences.

Kansas, the Big 12 champion, dropped two spots to 11th and was followed by Gonzaga, Washington, Missouri, UCLA, Butler, Clemson, Syracuse, Xavier and LSU.

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The last five ranked teams were Marquette, Florida State, Arizona State, Purdue and Brigham Young.

BYU (24-6) was the only newcomer to the poll, moving in having won nine of its last 10 games and finishing in a three-way tie for first in the Mountain West Conference with Utah and New Mexico. The Cougars were ranked for six weeks last season.

Illinois (23-8), which lost to Penn State last week, dropped out from 23rd. The Illini were ranked for the last seven weeks, reaching as high as No. 18.

Syracuse (23-8), which closed the regular season with wins over Rutgers and Marquette to stretch its winning streak to four games, had the week's biggest jump moving from 25th to No. 18.

LSU and Marquette both had the week's biggest drop, falling eight places. The Tigers (25-6) fell from 12th to No. 20 following losses to Vanderbilt and Auburn, while Marquette (23-8) continued its slide following the loss of point guard Dominic James to a broken foot. The Golden Eagles, who were ranked as high as No. 8 this season, lost to Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse without James and fell this week from 13th to No. 21.

The final poll will be released next Monday.

[Associated Press; By JIM O'CONNELL]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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