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Monday, January 25, 2010
Kentucky takes over top of coaches' poll

ESPN.com

Kentucky and North Carolina, two of college basketball's most illustrious programs, became a study in contrasts within the new ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll released Monday.

Poll Positions

The top five of the ESPN/USA Today men's coaches' poll:

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2.
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5.
For the complete ESPN/USA Today poll, click here.

The Wildcats (19-0), the only undefeated Division I men's team, settled into the No. 1 ranking for the first time in six seasons, while the Tar Heels are unranked for the first time since January 2006. The reigning NCAA champion Heels (12-7) have lost three straight and four of their last five.

Kentucky received all 31 first-place votes and 775 points in the Top 25, 36 more than No. 2 Kansas (18-1). The Wildcats, who whipped Arkansas by 31 points in their only game last week, also are a unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press media poll.

With previous No. 1 Texas suffering its first and second losses of the season in a six-day stretch, Kentucky coach John Calipari joined Frank McGuire (North Carolina, South Carolina and St. John's) as the only coaches in college basketball history to get three schools to the top of the polls. Calipari also coached Memphis and Massachusetts to No. 1 status.

"I'm just trying to tell our guys it's not a burden, it's a badge of honor. It's something to take pride in, but now there's a bigger bull's-eye," Calipari said Monday in an interview on "SportsCenter."

Big East members Villanova (No. 3, 18-1) and Syracuse (No. 4, 19-1) remained the class of the conference, moving up one spot each. Their only meeting comes Feb. 27 at Syracuse.

Following Michigan State's (17-3) two-spot jump to fifth after a pair of narrow Big Ten victories, the Longhorns (17-2) fell into place at No. 6 after road losses to Kansas State and Connecticut.

Texas became the third top-ranked team to lose twice in one week since the inception of the coaches' poll in the 1997-98 season.

The top 10 was rounded out by Duke (16-3), which lost to NC State at the start of last week; Gonzaga (16-3), winner of eight in a row; West Virginia (15-3), which moved up from 12th in its return to the top 10; and BYU (20-1), whose 15-game winning streak is the second-longest active one behind Kentucky's 19.

Georgetown (15-3), which continued its bid to return to the top 10, moved up three spots to 11th ahead of Monday night's game against Syracuse (ESPN, 7 ET).

Purdue (16-3) is 12th this week, and Kansas State (16-3), Tennessee (15-3), Temple (17-3), Wisconsin (16-4), Pittsburgh (15-4), Butler (16-4), UConn (13-6) and Mississippi (15-4) round out the rest of the second 10.

Clemson (15-5), Georgia Tech (14-5), newcomer Vanderbilt (15-3), Ohio State (14-6) and Northern Iowa (17-2) complete the Top 25.

Kansas, Villanova, Michigan State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt are the only teams in power conferences that are still undefeated in conference play. Kansas plays host to unranked rival Missouri (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) on Monday.