AP Top 25: Virginia moves up to No. 5

Virginia had the difficult task of playing against two ranked teams while mourning a tragedy that rocked the Cavaliers and the rest of their campus.

A week after three football players were shot dead on a bus, Virginia won the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas against No. 16 Illinois after defeating No. 7 Baylor. The wins catapulted the Cavaliers from 16th place to fifth in The Associated Press’s Top 25, published Monday.

“Right now it feels great, but more than that, now we know what really matters,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett. “When you have a temporary celebration like this, you can enjoy it, and it seems important, but by and large it doesn’t matter.”

A series of marquee games in the second full week of the college basketball season caused an uproar in the AP Top 25.

North Carolina remained at the top of the poll, receiving 47 first-place votes from a 63-member media panel. Houston moved up one spot to No. 2 and had nine first-place votes. No. 3 Kansas had one first-place vote, No. 4 Texas received five, and Virginia one.

The Cavaliers (4-0) had the biggest jump of the week, climbing to their highest rank since No. 4 in 2020-21.

Virginia decided to call off its game against Northern Iowa last week after Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry were fatally shot following a field trip to Washington.

The Cavaliers wore sweatshirts honoring the victims during warm-ups before playing Baylor and pulled away in the second half with an 86-79 win. The Cavaliers used another run in the second half to beat Illinois 70-61 and claimed a therapeutic title to take to Charlottesville.

“Just for the community, I felt like they needed that,” said Virginia Guard and tournament MVP Reece Beekman.

SPARTY RISES

Michigan State went unranked in the AP preseason poll for the first consecutive season since 1996-97 after losing its top three scorers from a year ago.

With a brutally early schedule, the Spartans thought they would need some time to get a foothold. Tom Izzo makes them move at an accelerated pace. Michigan State lost to Gonzaga by defeat on an aircraft carrier, knocked off Kentucky in double overtime and survived a late comeback to beat Villanova.

Solid performance during a rough patch sent Michigan state 12th in this week’s poll.

“It’s everything we envisioned,” said Michigan State Guard AJ Hoggard. “That’s what we signed up for, that’s what we wanted.”

HOT HOUSTON

Houston opened the season at No. 3, their highest preseason ranking since 1983. The Cougars posted another high since the Phi Slama Jama era and moved up a spot to No. 2 this week.

Houston opened the season with four straight blowouts and made a statement in his first major Test of the season when he won 66-56 in Oregon on Sunday night.

The Cougars keep teams at 46 points per game and have four players averaging double-digit points, led by preseason All-American Marcus Sasser, who averaged 16.8 points per game.

RISE FALL

Virginia had the biggest jump of the week within the poll, followed by seven spots to No. 4 in Texas after manhandling Gonzaga.

No. 15 Kentucky and No. 19 UCLA had the biggest losses, dropping 11 places. The Wildcats lost to Michigan State and followed a win over South Carolina State with a 16-point loss to Gonzaga. The Bruins lost to Illinois and Baylor in Las Vegas.

IN AND OUT

No. 23 Maryland is ranked for the first time this season after notching three wins including 88-70 against Miami last week to win the Basketball Hall of Fame tip-off.

Purdue makes its AP Top 25 debut this season at No. 24 after a 75-70 win over Marquette.

Iowa No. 25 is ranked for the first time after his 16-point win over Seton Hall in 2022-23.

THE TOP 25

1. North Carolina (47 first place votes) 4-0

2. Houston (9) 4-0

3. Kansas (1) 4-0

4.Texas (5) 3-0

5.Virginia (1) 4-0

6. Gonzaga 3-1

7.Baylor 4-1

8. Duke 3-1

9. Arkansas 3-0

10. Creighton 4-0

11. Indiana 4-0

12. Michigan St. 3-1

13. Maroon 4-0

14.Arizona 3-0

15. Kentucky 3-2

16 Illinois 4-1

17. San Diego St. 3-0

18.Alabama 4-0

19.UCLA 3-2

20.UConn 5-0

21.TexasTech 3-0

22. Tennessee 2-1

23. Maryland 5-0

24.Purdue 3-0

25. Iowa 3-0

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