Devils overtake UConn for top spot

Updated: January 19, 2004, 9:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Duke was due to be No. 1.

For the seventh straight season, the Blue Devils make an appearance atop The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll, moving up one place Monday to overtake Connecticut.

Duke also takes over the top spot in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. The Blue Devils grabbed 25 of the 31 first-place votes to take the spot vacated by UConn after its loss to North Carolina on Sunday.

Stanford moves up to No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, followed by Saint Joseph's, which grabbed its highest poll in almost 40 years. UConn and Cincinnati round out the top five.

Duke's AP streak dates to the 1997-98 season and is the second longest in history, behind UCLA's 12 straight seasons with a stay at No. 1 from 1964-75. The Bruins won 10 national championships during that span; the Blue Devils have one NCAA title during their run (in 2001).

"Being No. 1 is very important to us, and we actually earned it, it wasn't just given to us," Duke senior guard Chris Duhon said Monday. "This team has matured and right now we feel we are the best in the country, but we're not, and know we have a bigger target than usual on our backs."

Duke (14-1) is the fourth school at No. 1 in the AP poll this season; its women's team is also ranked No. 1 this week.

The Blue Devils beat then-No. 4 Wake Forest 84-72 Saturday, the same day Connecticut lost 86-83 to the then-No. 9 Tar Heels. The Huskies (14-2) were No. 1 for eight weeks this season, including the last five in a row.

Kansas and Florida each were No. 1 for one week this season.

Duke has won 11 straight games since losing to Purdue in the final of the Great Alaska Shootout and received 45 first-place votes and 1,763 points from the national media panel.

That was 30 points more than Stanford, which moved up one place to second.

The Cardinal, one of four unbeaten teams left in Division I through Sunday, were No. 1 on 24 ballots and matched their highest ranking since the final poll of the 2000-01 season.

Duke's first game this season at No. 1 will be Wednesday night at Maryland. The Terrapins beat Duke at home the last two seasons -- and the Blue Devils led the AP poll each time.

"We haven't really played well there the last couple of years, and they knocked us off as No. 1 the last couple of years. So we're excited to go up there and play against them as a No. 1," Duhon said. "And they didn't really see the real Duke last year."

Saint Joseph's (15-0) received one first-place vote and moved up three spots to third, the Hawks' highest ranking since they were No. 3 on Jan. 18, 1966.

Connecticut dropped to No. 4, followed by Louisville, Cincinnati (13-0), North Carolina, Pittsburgh (18-0), Kentucky and Wake Forest. Cincinnati got the other two first-place votes.

Georgia Tech was No. 11, trailed by Kansas, Syracuse, Arizona, Gonzaga, Texas, Florida, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and No. 20 Oklahoma. The last five ranked teams were Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Oklahoma State and South Carolina.

Purdue and Oklahoma State returned to the Top 25 this week, while South Carolina is ranked for the first time since the final poll of the 1997-98 season. That trio replaced Marquette, Creighton and Illinois.

Purdue (12-4) was ranked for six straight weeks before falling out last week. The Boilermakers moved back in with wins over Illinois and Wisconsin.

Oklahoma State (12-2) was ranked for the first four weeks of the season, then dropped out for six consecutive polls. The Cowboys returned by winning eight of nine games, including against Oklahoma and Kansas State last week.

Marquette (11-4) dropped out of the poll for the second time this season, after losses to Cincinnati and Southern Mississippi.

Creighton (13-1) moved into the Top 25 last week for the first time, then lost its next game to Northern Iowa.

Illinois (11-4) lost to Northwestern and beat Iowa last week, then fell out of the rankings for the first time this season. They were as high as 11th.