LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas dropped out of The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll for the first time in 12 years on Monday, ending the Jayhawks’ record streak of 231 consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 25.
Gonzaga and Baylor held down the top two spots, just as they have all season, with the Bulldogs getting 55 of 63 first-place votes and the Bears getting the other eight. Michigan took advantage of Villanova’s loss at St. John’s to jump into the top three, Ohio State climbed three spots to No. 4 and the Wildcats rounded out the top 5.
Illinois gave the Big Ten three teams in the top six after beating Indiana in overtime and pounding No. 21 Wisconsin over the weekend. The Illini were followed by Texas Tech, Houston, Virginia and Missouri, which beat Kentucky and No. 11 Alabama to reach the top 10 for the first time since Jan. 7, 2013.
The real drama came not at the top of the poll, but at the bottom of it.
When Kansas and UCLA fell out this week, it left the AP Top 25 without the Jayhawks, Bruins and fellow bluebloods Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina — with their combined 33 national championships — for the first time since Dec. 18, 1961. It also meant none of the 13 winningest Division I programs was ranked.
The Jayhawks began their Top 25 streak on Feb. 2, 2009. Their decade-plus of dominance, which began the season after they won the national championship, included 10 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles, five conference tournament titles, two more Final Four trips and a runner-up finish in 2012.
Their game against No. 23 Oklahoma State on Monday night was the Jayhawks’ first unranked in 434 games.
« It’s basketball and we have another game to focus on, » Jayhawks guard Jalen Wilson said after a 91-79 loss at No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday, their sixth defeat in the past 10 games. « In basketball you sometimes have to focus on what’s in front of you and not think about the past and what you couldn’t done. »
The Jayhawks started 8-1 and climbed to No. 3 by Dec. 28, with their lone loss to Gonzaga and victories over then-ranked Kentucky, West Virginia, Creighton and Texas Tech on the road. But they have scuffled since the start of Big 12 play.
« We have plenty of games to go win and I know this team can do it, » Kansas guard Christian Braun said.
Gonzaga trailed Pacific at halftime last week before a 25-8 finishing run to win the game easily, then had its game against Santa Clara canceled over the weekend.
« It’s really hard when everybody around them nationally and everything just thinks you’re going to breeze through stuff, » Bulldogs Coach Mark Few said after their latest win, « but it’s not reality. »
Baylor beat then-No. 6 Texas on the road last week in the first matchup involving top-10 teams from the state of Texas, only to announce another pause for covid-19 on Thursday. The Bears aren’t scheduled to play again until Feb. 20.
The Crimson Tide and Sooners were followed at No. 13 by the Longhorns, who fell seven spots after their losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State last week. The Mountaineers were next, with Iowa falling seven spots to No. 15, followed by Tennessee, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Creighton and Southern California.
Rounding out the Top 25 were Wisconsin, Loyola-Chicago, Oklahoma State, Purdue and Rutgers.
Loyola-Chicago entered the rankings for the first time since the final poll of the 1984-85 season. That may surprise those who recall the Ramblers’ dramatic run to the Final Four in 2018, but they never cracked the Top 25 that season.
Baylor coach Scott Drew, right, argues a call during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, second from left, and Corey Kispert shake hands in the closing moments of Gonzaga’s 76-58 win over Pacific in an NCAA college basketball game in Stockton, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Kansas guard Latrell Jossell (4) passes while defended by West Virginia forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)