Men’s AP Top 25: Indiana State ranked for first time since ’79; UConn remains No. 1

Men’s AP Top 25: Indiana State ranked for first time since ’79; UConn remains No. 1

Indiana State’s balanced scoring, free-flowing offense and its goggle-wearing big man have the program off to one of its best starts in years.

Now the Sycamores have something that hasn’t happened since Larry Bird played in Terre Haute: a spot in the AP Top 25.

Riding a nine-game winning streak, Indiana State debuted at No. 23 in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll Monday, the Sycamores’ first ranking since reaching No. 1 in 1978-79.

“It’s a group that the community can really wrap their arms around, and I think they have,” Indiana State coach Josh Schertz told reporters recently. “That’s just great to see. I know Terre Haute. They love basketball. I know there’s a great history and tradition, from Larry Bird to John Wooden to Clarence Walker.”

UConn and Purdue kept the top two spots in the AP Top 25. The defending national champion Huskies received 45 first-place votes from a 61-person media panel and the Boilermakers had 16.

Schertz took over the Indiana State program during the pandemic, inheriting a depleted roster with no chance to get players to visit campus. Schertz cobbled together a team that won 11 games his first season and the Sycamores improved to 23-13 last season.

Indiana State (22-3) has been on a roll in Schertz’s third season, winning all 11 home games while taking a two-game lead over Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference at 11-1.

The Sycamores have five players scoring in double figures, led by dynamic 5-foot-10 guard Isaiah Swope’s 17.7 points per game. Big man Robbie Avila has become a fan favorite with his goggles, averaging 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Indiana State is fifth nationally in scoring at 85.6 points per game, ninth in 3-point percentage (39%) and is No. 1 in adjusted field goal percentage, according to KenPom. The combination has the Sycamores eyeing their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011.

“Our goal is we want to get to the NCAA Tournament and advance,” Schertz said. “You never want to put ceilings on yourself. You want to get to the tournament and win games and go as far as you can. You saw what happened last year with Florida Atlantic and San Diego State playing in the Final Four — there’s nothing outside of your reach.”

Losses by No. 6 Kansas and No. 7 North Carolina led to a shakeup in the top 10 behind UConn and Purdue.

Zach Edey goes off for 26 points in Purdue’s dominant victory over Indiana

Houston moved up two spots to No. 5, Marquette rose three places to No. 4 and No. 8 Arizona climbed three following a sweep of the Pac-12’s mountain schools. Tennessee, Duke and Iowa State rounded out the top 10. The Cyclones returned to the top 10 for the first time since the 2021-22 season.

Iowa State and No. 11 South Carolina had the biggest jumps in this week’s poll, each rising four spots.

No. 20 Wisconsin had the biggest drop, falling nine places after losing four straight games.

No. 22 Kentucky dropped five places after losing three straight games at Rupp Arena for the first time it opened in 1976. The Wildcats hadn’t lost three in a row at home since the 1966-67 season, when they played at Memorial Coliseum.

No. 18 Saint Mary’s moved back into the AP Top 25 for the first time since the preseason poll after wins over Pacific and Portland. No. 21 Virginia returned to the poll for the first time since mid-December thanks to an eight-game winning streak.

No. 25 Oklahoma moved back into the poll after dropping out last week following wins over No. 18 BYU and rival Oklahoma State.

Utah State dropped out from No. 22 after losing at home to Nevada and beating Boise State. Texas Tech fell from No. 23 to unranked following a loss to No. 12 Baylor and a win over UCF.

San Diego State also dropped out from No. 24 after an overtime loss to Nevada.

The Big 12 leads the country with six ranked teams, followed by the SEC with five. The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Big East conferences were next with three. The Pac-12, Atlantic 10, West Coast, Missouri Valley and American Athletic conferences each had one.

Here’s the full top 25: 

1. UConn
2. Purdue
3. Houston
4. Marquette
5. Arizona
6. Kansas
7. North Carolina
8. Tennessee 
9. Duke
10. Iowa State
11. South Carolina
12. Baylor
13. Auburn
14. Illinois
15. Alabama
16. Dayton
17. Creighton 
18. Saint Mary’s
19. BYU
20. Wisconsin
21. Virginia
22. Kentucky
23. Indiana State
24. Florida Atlantic 
25. Oklahoma

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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