UConn back at No. 1 in AP Top 25 ahead of repeat bid in March Madness; Houston, Purdue, Iowa St next

Reigning national champion Connecticut is back at No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll a day after being named the top overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies moved up from No. 2 in Monday’s poll, trading spots with Houston after the Cougars’ lopsided loss in the Big 12 Tournament title game to Iowa State. UConn received 61 of 62 first-place votes to return to No. 1 for the first time since a six-week stint in January and February.

UConn (31-3) has lost just once since Dec. 20 and won its first Big East Tournament title since 2011 on Saturday. Then came a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAAs for the first time since a Final Four run in 2009 and sixth time overall.

The Huskies, who top the East Region bracket, are trying to become college basketball’s first repeat champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

“We’ve got a bunch of NBA players — we’ve got NBA-level talent that’s willing to screen and share and play for each other on offense,” coach Dan Hurley said after a win against St. John’s in the Big East semifinals. “And it’s a unique group of players that have NBA ability, but are humble and about team.”

THE TOP TIER

Big 12 regular-season champ Houston still received a first-place vote despite its tournament stumble, while Purdue remained at No. 3 after falling to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Iowa State jumped three spots to No. 4 for the program’s highest ranking since spending a week at No. 4 in December 2015. The Cyclones were unranked this season until Jan. 15.

North Carolina is No. 5. The Tar Heels won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title but fell in the ACC Tournament final to cap rival North Carolina State’s shocking title run.

Of that group, the Cougars (South), Boilermakers (Midwest) and Tar Heels (West) earned top NCAA regional seeds.

Tennessee, Auburn, Marquette, Arizona and Illinois rounded out the top 10, with the Tigers winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament and the Illini claiming the Big Ten title behind a scoring binge from Terrence Shannon Jr.

RISING AND FALLING

Saint Mary’s had the biggest jump of the week, climbing six spots to No. 15 after beating Gonzaga for the West Coast Conference Tournament title. Auburn was next by moving up five spots to No. 7, creating a significant disparity with the NCAA selection committee that gave the Tigers a No. 4 regional seed in UConn’s East bracket.

More than half of the poll teams (13) slid after the chaos from league tournaments. Arizona, No. 11 Creighton, No. 12 Kentucky and No. 25 Washington State all tied for the biggest tumbles by falling three spots.

IN AND OUT

No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 24 San Diego State were the new additions to the poll, though both have been ranked in multiple weeks this season. Nevada (No. 23) and Dayton (No. 24) fell out to make room for the Badgers and Aztecs.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Big 12 had a national-best six ranked teams, including No. 17 Kansas, No. 21 BYU and No. 22 Texas Tech. The SEC was next with five, including No. 16 South Carolina.

The Big East and Big Ten each had three ranked teams, while the ACC, Pac-12, Mountain West and West Coast conferences each had two.

ONE MORE TO GO

For the first time, The Associated Press will release a post-tournament Top 25 after the national championship game. It will be released April 9, the day after the title game in Glendale, Arizona.

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Get poll alerts and updates on the AP Top 25 throughout the season. Sign up here. AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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