UConn new No. 1 in coaches' poll

Updated: March 6, 2006, 1:52 PM ET
SportsTicker

The Big East Conference provides the 1-2 punch in the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll released Monday.

Connecticut (27-2) took advantage of two losses by Duke and rose to No. 1, receiving 30 of the 31 first-place votes and 773 points.

Villanova (24-3) slipped two spots last week to No. 4 after losing at Connecticut, 89-75, on Feb. 26. But two wins this past week coupled with the losses by Duke and a loss by Memphis elevated the Wildcats back up to No. 2 with 733 points.

Connecticut and Villanova tied for the regular-season Big East title with 14-2 records and may meet in the conference tournament championship game on Saturday. If that happens, the winner of the title game likely will take a No. 1 ranking into the NCAA Tournament.

Duke (27-3) regained the top spot in the coaches' poll two weeks ago but slipped to No. 3 after suffering back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference losses to Florida State and North Carolina.

The Blue Devils received 676 points, just 11 ahead of Gonzaga (26-3), which advanced to the West Coast Conference tournament title game.

North Carolina (21-6) made a huge impression with its 83-76 win at Duke on Saturday. The Tar Heels received the remaining first-place vote and elevated five places to No. 10.

Memphis (27-3) had a 15-game winning streak snapped last Thursday at UAB and slipped two spots to No. 5. The Tigers bounced back from that loss and clinched the regular-season Conference USA title with a win over Houston on Saturday.

George Washington (26-1) extended its NCAA-best winning streak to 18 games, but remains sixth.

Ohio State (23-4) clinched the regular-season Big Ten Conference crown with a win Sunday against Purdue and moved up one spot to No. 7.

Texas (25-5) slipped one spot to No. 8 and Illinois (25-5) rose to ninth.

Boston College (24-6) is 11th, followed by UCLA (24-6), Washington (24-5), Florida (24-6), Tennessee (21-6), Pittsburgh (21-6), Louisiana State (22-7), Kansas (22-7), Oklahoma (20-7) and Iowa (22-8).

West Virginia (20-9), North Carolina State (21-8) and Georgetown (19-8) each lost once and dropped three spots, standing at 21, 22 and 23, respectively.

Nevada (24-5) and UAB (22-5) each cracked the poll, taking the last two places.

Big Ten schools Michigan State (20-10) and Wisconsin (19-10) dropped out.

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