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Monday, March 3, 2014
Virginia jumps to No. 5 in AP poll

ESPN.com news services

Florida, Wichita State and Arizona are the top three teams in The Associated Press poll for the second straight week.

The Gators (27-2), who are on a school-record 21-game winning streak, were a solid No. 1 on Monday, receiving 46 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.

Wichita State (31-0), the first team since Saint Joseph's in 2004 to enter its conference tournament undefeated, was No. 1 on 14 ballots, and Arizona (27-2), which was ranked No. 1 for eight weeks earlier this season, got the other five first-place votes.

Duke moved up two spots to fourth while Virginia, which won its first outright ACC title since 1981, jumped from 12th to fifth. The Cavaliers are in the top 10 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

The last time the Cavaliers won the outright ACC title, they featured three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson, were in the top 10 the entire season, spent four weeks at No. 1 and reached the Final Four.

Virginia was No. 24 in this season's preseason Top 25 and fell to 25th in the first week of the regular season. The Cavaliers dropped out of the poll the next week and didn't return until four weeks ago at No. 20. They've moved up every week since.

Villanova was sixth followed by Syracuse, Kansas, Wisconsin and San Diego State.

Connecticut and Oklahoma returned to the Top 25, replacing Ohio State and Texas.

UConn, which has won six of seven, including a 51-45 victory over then-No. 11 Cincinnati on Saturday, moved in at No. 19. The Huskies had been out for one week after a three-week run. They were No. 18 in the preseason poll and reached as high as ninth before falling out of the poll for the first time.

Oklahoma returned as No. 23 after being out for three weeks. The Sooners have won three of four, with their only loss to Kansas. They are coming off a 77-65 victory over Texas.

Ohio State fell out of the rankings for the second time this season. The Buckeyes fell from No. 22 after losses to Penn State and Indiana. Ranked 11th in the preseason Top 25, the Buckeyes reached as high as No. 3 after starting the season 15-0. They fell out for one week before appearing in the poll the past three weeks.

Texas, which was No. 24 last week, fell out after a five-week run in the poll, when it reached as high as 15th. The Longhorns have lost three of four, including the 77-65 defeat to Oklahoma.

Eight games feature two ranked teams this week, and half will involve the American Athletic Conference. On Wednesday, No. 11 Louisville, tied for first place, is at No. 18 SMU, which is one game out in third. On Thursday, No. 20 Memphis, tied for fourth, is at No. 15 Cincinnati, the other team tied for first. On Saturday, SMU is at Memphis and No. 19 Connecticut, tied for fourth, is at Louisville.

In the Big Ten on Thursday, No. 24 Iowa is at No. 22 Michigan State.

On Saturday, No. 25 Kentucky is at Florida, No. 14 North Carolina is at Duke, and No. 21 New Mexico visits San Diego State.

The first spot in the NCAA tournament's field of 68 can be decided Friday if Harvard wins at Yale. The Ivy League is the only one of the 32 conferences with an automatic bid not to have a tournament. Harvard has clinched at least a share of the title for a fourth straight season. If there is a tie, the Ivy League has a one-game playoff.

Of the 31 conference tournaments, 13 begin this week, starting with the opening-round games in the Patriot League on Monday.

Wichita State will put its perfect record on the line in the Missouri Valley tournament, which begins Thursday. The Shockers open with the winner of Drake and Evansville on Friday.

The first tournament final is the Ohio Valley on Saturday, followed by the Atlantic Sun, Big South and Missouri Valley on Sunday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.