Saint Joseph's Ranked No. 1 for 1st Time
By JIM O'CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer
Tiny Saint Joseph's and its ever-flapping Hawk have soared to the top of the basketball world. The Philadelphia school with an enrollment of 3,400 and not much recent sports history to brag about was No. 1 in the AP men's college basketball poll Monday for the first time. It's a dream come true," Hawks senior guard Jameer Nelson said. "At the same time, we have to take care of business these last few games. We'll still approach each game and practice the same way."
The Hawks (27-0) are the only unbeaten team in Division I, now that previously top-ranked Stanford was upset by Washington.
Saint Joseph's needs three victories in the Atlantic 10 tournament to become the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the NCAA (news - web sites) tournament without a loss.
The Hawks moved up from No. 2 thanks to the loss by Stanford (26-1) Saturday. That ended the Cardinal's three-week run atop the AP poll.
Saint Joseph's received 67 first-place votes and 1,795 points from the national media panel. Second-ranked Stanford was No. 1 on two ballots and had 1,648 points.
Gonzaga (26-2) moved up one spot to No. 3, the highest ranking in school history, and received one first-place vote. Mississippi State (25-2) moved up one place to fourth, switching positions with Duke (25-4), which was No. 1 on two ballots after losing to Georgia Tech and beating North Carolina.
Air Force moved into the Top 25 for the first time in school history. The Falcons (22-5), the No. 1 defensive team in the country, won the Mountain West regular season title.
Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State, Kentucky and Connecticut held sixth through ninth from last week, while Wisconsin moved up seven places to No. 10, its highest ranking of the season.
Texas was No. 11, followed by Illinois, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Kansas, Syracuse and Providence.
The last five ranked teams were Arizona, Utah State, Memphis, Southern Illinois and Air Force.
Saint Joseph's is the sixth team to reach No. 1 this season, joining Connecticut, Kansas, Florida, Duke and Stanford.
"Being ranked No. 1 is a sign of steady improvement and the hard work we've put in all season," Saint Joseph's junior forward Pat Carroll said. The NCAA "tournament will prove who really is the No. 1 team in the nation, but right now, it's a good feeling to have that ranking in front of us."