Michigan State drops from unranked to No. 12 in AP Top 25, Michigan drops out

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

Playing a week after three football players were shot on a bus, Virginia won the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas against No. 16 Illinois after beating No. 7 Baylor. The wins lifted the Cavaliers from No. 16 to fifth in the Associated Press Top 25 released on Monday.

“It feels good in the moment, but even more so now we know what really matters,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “When you have a momentary celebration like this, it allows you to enjoy it and it seems to matter, but overall it doesn’t.”

A marquee slate of 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-person media panel. Houston moved up one spot to No. 2 and got nine first-place votes. No. 3 Kansas got one first-place vote, No. 4 Texas got five and Virginia one.

The Cavaliers (4-0) pulled off the biggest jump of the week, climbing to their highest ranking since reaching No. 4 in 2020-21.

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

The Cavaliers wore sweatshirts honoring the victims during warm-ups before playing against Baylor and pulled out in the second half for an 86-79 victory. The Cavaliers used another second-half run to beat Illinois 70-61, claiming a therapeutic title to take home with them to Charlottesville.

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

THE SPARTAL ASCENSION

Michigan State was unranked in the AP’s preseason poll in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996-97 after losing its top three scorers a year ago.

With a brutal early schedule, the Spartans thought they needed time to gain a foothold. Tom Izzo pushes them forward at an accelerated pace. Michigan State lost by one to Gonzaga on an aircraft carrier, knocked out Kentucky in double overtime, and survived a late comeback attempt to beat Villanova.

The strong performance in a tough streak propelled Michigan State in this week’s poll to No. 12.

“It’s everything we thought it would be,” Michigan State guard AJ Hoggard said. “That’s what we signed up for, that’s what we wanted.”

HOT HOUSTON

Houston opened the season at No. 3, its highest preseason ranking since 1983. The Cougars hit another high since the Phi Slama Jama era, moving to No. 2 this week.

Houston opened the season with four straight blowouts and made a statement in its first big Test of the season, winning 66-56 at Oregon on Sunday night.

The Cougars are holding teams at 46 points per game and have four players with double-digit averages, led by All-American Marcus Sasser’s 16.8 points per game.

UP/DOWN

Virginia made the biggest jump of the week in the poll, followed by No. 4 Texas’ seven-place climb after roughing up Gonzaga.

No. 15 Kentucky and No. 19 UCLA saw the biggest declines, falling 11 spots. The Wildcats lost to Michigan State and followed up 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 picking up three wins last week, including 88-70 over Miami to earn 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.

The Iowa No. 25 is also ranked for the first time in 2022-23 on the heels of its 16-point win over Seton Hall.