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Monday, February 24, 2014
Florida moves to No. 1 in AP poll

ESPN.com news services

Florida is the new No. 1 in The Associated Press poll, the Gators' first time on top of the rankings since they repeated as national champions in 2007.

The Gators were No. 1 for eight weeks that season, including two as a unanimous choice.

The Gators (25-2) moved up one place Monday, replacing Syracuse (25-2), which lost twice last week and dropped to fourth.

Florida coach Billy Donovan wasn't impressed with the top ranking, which marked the first time the SEC has had two different teams ranked No. 1 in the same season since 2002-03 (Kentucky was ranked No. 1 the first two polls this season).

"Although it's a nice honor and it's great, if you really want to break it down, what does it mean?"  Donovan told ESPN.com. "It means that some teams in front of us lost. It means that we obviously were given that ranking. But whether we're 15, 2, 1, not ranked, we've got to play [Tuesday] against Vanderbilt. To me, the ranking doesn't do anything for us, it doesn't give us anything. It doesn't."

Florida senior forward Will Yeguete thinks the Gators will handle the challenge well.

"Our lives aren't really changing," Yeguete said. "We're No. 1. That's a really good accomplishment, especially for us being No. 1. But I think Coach D will use that to motivate us. We've been No. 2 before. We know what it is to be ranked really high. We know you just take one game at a time."

Syracuse lost to Boston College and at Duke last week to become the first No. 1 team to lose two games in the same week since Texas in January 2010. Those losses started a rough end to the season for Texas, which started 17-0 then lost seven of nine and dropped out of the Top 25. 

Wichita State (29-0) and Arizona (25-2) each moved up one place to second and third, respectively.

Florida, the fifth team to hold the No. 1 spot this season, received 47 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. Wichita State was No. 1 on 14 ballots, and Arizona got the other four first-place votes.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall told The Associated Press that being ranked No. 2 means the Shockers are being recognized for an outstanding season so far, and they plan to keep pushing to see how high they can go.

"Florida is an outstanding team," Marshall said. "I've watched them, I really think they're good, there's a lot of good teams out there. But I just think this continues to be a carrot for our team. It continues to be a goal and it's a very lofty goal, and it's something to strive for."

Kansas jumped three places to fifth and was followed by Duke, Louisville, Villanova, Creighton and Saint Louis. If the Jayhawks beat Oklahoma on Monday night (ESPN, 9 ET), they would clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title, their 10th straight regular-season conference title, tied for the third-longest streak all time.

Creighton moved up two spots to No. 9, the Bluejays' first Top Ten ranking since they were 10th on Jan. 21, 2003.

Duke's win over Syracuse last week was the Blue Devils' ninth ever over a No. 1 team. They are fourth on the all-time list behind North Carolina (13, including one this season over Michigan State), Maryland (10) and UCLA (10). Boston College's win over Syracuse last week was the Eagles' third all-time over a No. 1 team.

North Carolina, which is riding a nine-game winning streak that includes a victory over then-No. 5 Duke last week, returned to the Top 25 this week at No. 19. The Tar Heels, who started 0-3 in the ACC, have won 20 games for the 41st time in 44 seasons. UNC, which was No. 12 in the preseason poll, was out of the rankings for the past seven weeks.

SMU returned to the poll after being out for one week. The Mustangs, who had last been ranked in 1984-85 until this season, moved back in at No. 23 after beating Connecticut last week for a sweep of the season series. The Huskies dropped out of the poll, along with UCLA and Gonzaga.

New Mexico used a solid win over then-No. 6 San Diego State to return to the rankings for the first time since the second week of the regular season. The Lobos, who were 23rd in the preseason poll, are back in at No. 25.

The 23-3 Aztecs dropped to No. 13 after a loss, but the two Mountain West title contenders play again in the regular season-finale March 8.

There are only two games between ranked teams this week and both are on Saturday.

No. 7 Louisville is at No. 21 Memphis in a rematch of the Tigers' 73-67 road win on Jan. 9, which snapped a four-game losing streak to the defending national champion.

No. 4 Syracuse is at No. 12 Virginia in a matchup of the teams that entered this week in first and second place in the ACC.

ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf and The Associated Press contributed to this report.