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Louisville is No. 1 in final AP poll

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[March 17, 2009]  ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- Louisville added one more thing to a week that saw it sweep the Big East titles and earn the overall No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament: the school's first appearance atop The Associated Press' college basketball poll.

HardwareThe Cardinals (28-5) took advantage of a week of conference tournament upsets to jump from fifth to No. 1 in the final poll of the season on Monday. Since no poll is taken after the NCAA tournament, Louisville had never made it to No. 1 despite winning national championships in 1980 and 1986.

"I think it's great. It's quite an honor for our basketball team to finish the regular season ranked No. 1," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Monday. "But now, everyone wipes the slate clean and everyone starts fresh. There are no No. 1s and there's no No. 64s. Now we just all play for the other No. 1."

The Cardinals received 45 first-place votes from the 71-member national media panel, becoming the sixth school to hold the No. 1 ranking this season and they got it after the top three teams in the poll lost last week. That was the second time that happened this season and all but six teams in the Top 25 lost a game last week.


North Carolina (28-4), which moved back to No. 1 last week but lost in the Atlantic Coast Conference semifinals to Florida State, was second with 11 first-place votes.

Memphis (31-3), which won the Conference USA tournament to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 25 games, also got 11 first-place votes and moved up one place to third.

Pittsburgh (28-4) and Connecticut (27-4) both lost in the Big East quarterfinals and both dropped two spots to fourth and fifth. The Panthers were No. 1 on three ballots, while Connecticut got one first-place vote.

Louisville, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Connecticut were the four No. 1 seeds for the NCAA tournament field with Memphis a No. 2.

North Carolina spent the most weeks at No. 1 this season. The Tar Heels were a unanimous choice in the preseason poll and for the first seven weeks of the regular season. Fellow ACC members Wake Forest and Duke spent a week each on top of the rankings.

Connecticut was No. 1 for four weeks, while Pittsburgh -- like Louisville a team that moved to the top for the first time in the program's history -- spent three weeks at No. 1.

Duke, the ACC tournament champion, was sixth and was followed by Oklahoma, Michigan State, Missouri and Gonzaga.

Villanova was 11th and was followed by Wake Forest, Syracuse, Kansas, Washington, Florida State, Purdue, UCLA, Arizona State and Xavier.

The last five ranked teams were LSU, Butler, Marquette, Clemson and Utah.

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The Utes (24-9) were the week's lone newcomer, moving in for the first time this season after winning the Mountain West tournament. They replaced BYU (25-7), which lost in the Mountain West semifinals.

Utah was the 47th team to be ranked this season, two off the record set last season.

The Big East had nine teams ranked during the season and they were all in the poll of Jan. 5, breaking its own record by one.

The ACC and Big Ten tied for second with seven teams cracking the rankings at some point, while the Pac-10 and Big 12 both had five teams ranked.

Those five leagues accounted for 33 teams in the NCAA's field of 65.

Besides Utah, there were seven other teams that made one-week appearances in the Top 25: Boston College, West Virginia, California, Saint Mary's, Kentucky, Dayton and BYU.

Fourteen teams were ranked from the preseason poll through the final with North Carolina, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Duke all being in the top 10 the whole season.

Two teams that were in the preseason top 10 -- No. 7 Texas and No. 9 Notre Dame -- weren't ranked at the end of the season.

[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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