December 7, 2015
College Basketball Rankings: Michigan State Moves Up To No. 1 While Utah Re-Enters Both National Polls

For the fourth time in five weeks, a new team is sitting atop of the college basketball rankings as the Michigan State Spartans moved up to No. 1 in both the Associated Press' Top-25 Poll and USA Today's Coaches Poll.

Michigan State (9-0) moved up to the top spot in the polls as a result of No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Maryland suffering losses last week. The Spartans received 62 of the 65 possible first-place votes and 1, 617 points from the AP writers. They received 26 of the 31 first-place votes (761 points) cast by coaches in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

MSU's rise from preseason No. 13 in the @AP_Top25 to No. 1 by Week Five is the fastest since 1987-88 when Arizona opened at No. 17. (photo courtesy of Michigan State Basketball twitter)
MSU's rise from preseason No. 13 in the @AP_Top25 to No. 1 by Week Five is the fastest since 1987-88 when Arizona opened at No. 17. [Photo courtesy of Michigan State Basketball twitter]The Detroit Free Press reports that this marks the third time a Tom Izzo coached Spartan team has been ranked No. 1. Izzo's 2013-14 squad reached the top spot in December 2013 and his 2000-01 team also spent time at No. 1. Michigan State's 1978-79 team, led by Magic Johnson, and under the direction of coach Jud Heathcoate is the only other team in program history to sit atop of the polls.

Izzo said that he appreciates the respect that voters have shown for his squad but doesn't put much stock into it.

"Trust me when I say this: I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far, but watching the football final four yesterday and realizing, in the last two years, where some people were ranked at the beginning of the year and where they ended up, it has no bearing on things."

"But I am proud that, you know, we've played a better schedule than normal. We've always played a pretty good one, but we've played a lot of pretty good teams early."

Michigan State has two wins over Top-25 opponents after defeating then-No. 24 Louisville (71-67) last week as well as Binghamton (76-33). The Spartans downed then-No. 4 Kansas (79-73) in Chicago during the first week of the season.

Michigan State is led by senior point guard Denzel Valentine, who is averaging 19.7 points along with 8.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists.The Spartans average 82.0 points a game, while shooting 49.6 percent from the field. They also allow 59.8 points a game, which ranks No. 12 in the nation.Michigan State host Maryland Eastern Shore (1-6) on Wednesday and Florida (6-1) Saturday this week. The Spartans were ranked No. 3 in both polls last week.

Kentucky (7-1) fell to No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today poll after losing to UCLA 87-77 in Los Angeles. Maryland tumbled to No. 6 in the AP and No. 9 in the Coaches poll after dropping a 89-91 decision to UNC in Chapel Hill during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.In the AP poll, Kansas (1 first place vote) is second followed by North Carolina (2) and Iowa State. No. 16 Baylor (16-1) made the biggest jump in the poll moving up nine paces from No. 25 while No. 24 Oregon (6-1) fell nine places after losing to UNLV (80-69).

Syracuse and Texas A&M fell out of the poll. Butler (6-1) and Utah (7-1) re-entered the poll at No. 18 and No. 25, respectively.

AP Poll1. Michigan State (9-0)2. Kansas (6-1)3. North Carolina (7-1)4. Iowa State (6-0)5. Kentucky (7-1)6. Maryland (7-0)7. Oklahoma (5-0)8. Duke (8-1)9. Villanova (7-0)10. Virginia (7-1)11. Purdue (8-0)12. Xavier (8-0)13. Arizona (7-1)14. West Virginia (7-0)15. Providence (8-1)16. Baylor (6-1)17. Miami (FL) (7-1)18. Butler (6-1)19. SMU (6-0)20. Gonzaga (5-2)21. Vanderbilt (6-2)22. Louisville (6-1)23. Cincinnati (8-1)24. Oregon (6-1)25. Utah (7-1)

The rest of USA Today Top-5 has Iowa State (2 first-place votes) at No. 2 followed by No. 3 North Carolina and then Duke at No. 5. No. 6 Villanova also received two first-place votes while No. 9 Maryland received the other first-place vote.

Baylor was the biggest mover up the poll, going from No. 23 to No. 15. Maryland and Oregon took the biggest plunge, each falling seven spots.

Syracuse fell from the rankings as Utah re-entered at No. 24.

USA Today Top-251. Michigan State2. Iowa State3. North Carolina4. Kentucky5. Duke6. Villanova7. Kansas8. Oklahoma9. Maryland10. Virginia11. Purdue12. Arizona13. Xavier14. West Virginia15. Baylor16. Vanderbilt17. Gonzaga18. Providence19. Louisville20. Miami (FL)21. Butler22. Cincinnati23. Oregon24. Utah25. Texas A&M

Team of the WeekUCLAThe Bruins (6-3) went 2-0 for the week but the important victory was over former- No. 1 Kentucky (87-77) on Thursday. The win was UCLA's first over a No.1 ranked team since 2003.

Sophomore center Thomas Welsh led five players in double figures with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton added 15 points apiece while Tony Parker added 11 and Aaron Holiday chipped in 10.

UCLA followed the win over Kentucky with a 83-76 victory over Long Beach State as Alford dropped in 24 points, including five three-pointers. Hamilton added a season-high 21 points.

The Bruins three losses have come against Monmouth (84-81 OT), Kansas (92-73) and Wake Forest (80-77).

[Photo by Al Goldis/Associated Press]