Weekend Preview: Baylor-Missouri headlines a weekend with some good hoops

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Game of the Weekend: Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 5 Missouri @ No. 3 Baylor

To know how important this game is, all you need to do is look at the numbers next to the names of these two teams. How often do two top five teams lock horns, especially when the loser of that game drops to two games out of the conference race? Hint: not that often.

But there is more to this matchup than simply have two of the best teams in the country going head to head. The contrast of styles in this game is simply fascinating. There may not be a team in the country with more length and athleticism in the country than Baylor. 6’11” Perry Jones III lines up at the four while either 6’9″ Quincy Miller or 6’10” Anthony Jones plays the three. Missouri, on the other hand, is one of the smallest teams in the country. It should be interesting to see how 6’6″ two-guard Kim English can match up with PJ3 or 6’3″ Marcus Demon handles Jones and/or Miller.

There are a couple of keys to this game. For Baylor, Pierre Jackson is going to be the deciding factor. A dynamic playmaker that has the ability to do some truly amazing things on a basketball court, Jackson has a tendency to try and take games over. He can do it, at times, but Baylor is much better when he embraces the role of being a playmaker. Against Missouri, with the kind of size advantage the Bears are going to have, Baylor is going to need Jackson to ignore the desire to try and out-gun Phil Pressey and Mike Dixon and, instead, focus on pounding the ball inside, allowing Baylor to take advantage of their size advantage.

Its quite obvious that Missouri is going to be firing up plenty of three pointers. The key, however, is going to be what kind of threes this group takes. Baylor plays a lot of zone, which means that the Tigers are going to have plenty of looks from the perimeter. But that zone is also going to open up lanes for penetration. If Missouri is willing to penetrate and kick — taking threes off of the catch instead off of the dribble — the Tigers should get plenty of open looks. If they settle for contested pull-up jumpers early in the shot clock, they could be in trouble.

I know the Tigers are on the road, but I’m buying into this team. I think that Phil Pressey is going to be impossible to keep out of the paint, and I believe both Denmon and English are due for big games.

Seven more games to watch:

Sat. 12:00 pm: Alabama @ No. 2 Kentucky: I saw Kentucky struggle to knock off Old Dominion at Mohegan Sun earlier this season, and I immediately made a mental note to circle this game on the calender. You see, the Monarchs pushed around the Wildcats in the paint, getting to the offensive glass and out-toughing a Kentucky team that looked like they wanted no part of the physical nature of the paint. Since that time, however, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have come a long way while the Crimson Tide have, more or less, fallen off the face of the earth. One thing to keep an eye on: JaMychal Green went out with what looked like a head injury midway through the second half as Vandy smoked Alabama on Thursday night. Will he be ready to go?

Sat. 12:00 pm: Purdue @ No. 9 Michigan State: Want to hear a wild stat? There are currently five teams tied atop the Big Ten with two losses. One of those teams is Michigan State. Another one is Purdue. There may not be a conference race that ends up being as wild as the Big Ten’s, if for no reason other than the fact that its near impossible to win on the road in that league. Michigan State has struggled of late, losing at Northwestern and at Michigan in their last two games. It should be fun to see Robbie Hummel and Draymond Green, two of the nation’s best seniors, go head-to-head.

Sat. 3:00 pm: Cincinnati @ West Virginia: Cincinnati has done two things this season: they’ve established themselves as the second best team in the Big East and they appear to have staked a claim on being the best road team in the country. They have won their past seven road games in Big East play, including their last two, which consists win at Georgetown and at UConn. It doesn’t get any easier for the Bearcats on Saturday as they head to Morgantown to take on the Mountaineers.

Sat. 4:00 pm: Florida State @ No. 4 Duke: This is going to be an interesting matchup for the Blue Devils because Florida State’s strength counteracts Duke’s weaknesses. The ‘Noles are as big and physical in the paint as anyone in the country — just ask North Carolina — and they have a tough defense that doesn’t allow penetration. Duke’s big men are not as big of an issue as many make them out to be, but the Blue Devils definitely have issues when they struggles to get penetration.

Sat. 6:00 pm: Marshall @ Southern Miss: Conference USA has become a four team race, with Marshall, USM, UCF and Memphis breaking away from the pack. You cannot lose your home games against the other top teams in the league if you want to win the conference.

Sat. 6:00 pm: Stanford @ Washington: This matchup was much more intriguing when I was going through the schedule on Thursday night before both of these teams lost. At the time, they were tied with Cal for first in the Pac-12 standings. Now? They’re tied for second. The Pac-12 is going to have a tough time convincing people that the conference deserves at-large bids. Both Stanford and Washington need to win games like this to try and separate themselves from the rest of the league.

Sat. 10:00 pm: New Mexico @ No. 20 UNLV: This may end up being the most important game of the weekend behind the Baylor-Missouri game. San Diego State has already knocked off both of these teams, meaning that the loser of this game is going to drop to two games behind the Aztecs in the Mountain West race. That two game lead becomes an even bigger issue when you consider that BYU’s departure means there are only 14, and not 16, league games this season.

Who’s getting upset?: Sat. 7:00 pm: No. 15 Mississippi State @ Vanderbilt

If anyone can give me any kind of read on either of these two teams, I’d love it. Because I got nothing. Mississippi State may just be the second most talented team in the conference behind Kentucky, but for whatever reason — Renardo Sidney’s inability to dominate, Dee Bost’s inconsistency, the youth on the roster, Rick Stansbury — the Bulldogs just have not been able to figure it out in league play. They lost fairly handily at Arkansas. They lost at Ole Miss, who is playing without Dundrecous Nelson. And now they travel to Vanderbilt.

Vandy is just as confusing. Without Festus Ezeli, the Commodores looked downright bad. They were losing to teams like Indiana State and Cleveland State and dropped all the way out of the top 25 despite having three first round picks on their roster. But with Ezeli, they are winning games and doing it in impressive fashion, blowing out both Alabama and Marquette on the road. Can they defend their home court against a good team in the league? Does this even qualify as an upset?

Three more teams on upset watch:

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 19 Michigan @ Arkansas: I don’t know if Arkansas is going to win this game, but I do know this: there isn’t going to be a more intriguing matchup stylistically this season. Michigan likes to control pace, running complicated Princeton-esque sets and settling into a 1-3-1 zone at times. Arkansas? They have Mike Anderson as a head coach, meaning the Wolverines are going to be getting 40 Minutes of Hell.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 7 Kansas @ Texas: Winning on the road in league play is never an easy thing to do, and with the performance that the Jayhawks are coming off of against Baylor, its almost impossible to think that they won’t have a letdown during this game. This has been a pretty good rivalry ever since TJ Ford wore burnt orange, so you know the ‘Horns will be ready to play.

Sun. 2:00 pm: Wisconsin @ No. 25 Illinois: Winning on the road in the Big Ten has been a very difficult thing to do this season, but I’m just not ready to fully buy into Illinois yet. And that was before their loss at Penn State on Thursday. The only reason that they knocked off Ohio State was because Brandon Paul played one of the more ridiculous games I’ve ever seen. They lost to Penn State despite getting 35 points from Paul and Meyers Leonard. Not buying it.

Mid Major matchup of the weekend: Sat. 1:00 Xavier @ Dayton

Spare me, Xavier fans. I know you’re program isn’t a mid-major. But I like balance, and by putting this game down here, I can do eight, four and eight. Its pretty. Its balanced. It makes sense. Right? Right.

Anyway, this is a huge game in the Atlantic 10 race. The Musketeers have now won four straight games and look like they have finally refound whatever it was they lost in the brawl with Cincinnati. But Dayton is one of the best teams in this conference as well and play in one of the tougher venues to steal a win. They also have a talented back court star of their own in Kevin Dillard.

The key to this game is going to be Xavier’s ability to get the ball into the paint. The Muskies have the biggest front line in the conference and Dayton lost their best big man in Josh Benson. If they pound the ball inside and avoid getting into a shootout with Dillard, they should win this game.

Seven more games to keep an eye on:

Sat. 7:00 pm: St. Joe’s @ Penn: Big 5 games are always going to be fun, but the matchups in this game make it all the more interesting. Zack Rosen, Penn’s point guard, is one of the most underrated in the country, but the Hawks have a talented back court of their own with Carl Jones and Langston Galloway. That will be fun.

Sat. 8:00 pm: Old Dominion @ VCU: VCU managed to hang on against William & Mary meaning they are still right in the thick of a crowded CAA race. Old Dominion is leading the conference right now. VCU is a game behind. As an added bonus, Kent Bazemore and Brad Burgess may be the two best players in the conference.

Sat. 8:00 pm: South Dakota State @ North Dakota State: This is a huge game for SDSU. NDSU is 6-2 in Summit League play, sitting a game behind the Jackrabbits. But the Jackrabbits are sitting a game behind undefeated Oral Roberts. Losing this game would put them in a big hole in the Summit race.

Sat. 8:30 pm: Denver @ North Texas: Tony Mitchell getting eligible has changed the Mean Green’s team, but Denver runs a difficult system to prepare and has been as impressive as anyone in that conference. A loss for UNT drops them two back from the Sun Belt West pace.

Sat. 11:00 pm: LBSU @ UCSB: What isn’t there to like about this matchup? The two best teams in the Big West. The two best players in the Big West in Casper Ware and Orlando Johnson. I’d be willing to be there will be a large contingent of NBA scouts in attendance for this game.

Sun. 2:00 pm: Milwaukee @ Cleveland State: These are the two best teams in the Horizon. Cleveland State is my pick to win the league, mainly because I think their athleticism and pressure will end up being too much for the rest of the league to overcome. But the Panthers are a tough defensive team that really make it difficult for opponents to score.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

No. 4 Arizona turning heads early in the season

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd knew there was talent on his roster. He wasn’t exactly sure how good the team would be.

The former longtime Gonzaga assistant had a similar view of last year’s team and that one turned out to be pretty good, running all the way to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

This year’s team could end up being even better.

Buoyed by transfers and improved returning players, Arizona has rolled through the early part of its schedule, climbing to No. 4 in this week’s AP Top 25 after winning the Maui Invitational.

“I learned that we’re good,” Lloyd said. “We’re tough. We’re gritty. I think there’s going to be some great things for us to really double down on and some things to show our guys where we went the wrong way.”

Lloyd had a superb first season in the desert, earning coach of the year honors last season with a team that lost three players to the NBA.

The Wildcats (6-0) had to replace three NBA players again this season. Again, they made a seamless transition.

Improvement on the part of the returning players has been a big part of it.

Oumar Ballo, considered a project as a freshman at Gonzaga, has transformed into one of the nation’s best big men. The 7-foot, 260-pound center from Mali has vastly improved his footwork and developed patience in the post, setting himself up for good shots instead of trying to bull his way to the basket.

Ballo is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 76.7% from the field, fourth-best nationally. He was named Maui Invitational MVP after finishing with 30 points and 13 rebounds against No. 7 Creighton in the title game.

Not bad for a player who averaged 2.5 points and 6.3 minutes per game two years ago at Gonzaga.

“When he struggled, I still believed in him,” Lloyd said. “I didn’t need for him to be instantly successful for me to reaffirm my belief in him. When he struggled, we continued to love him and work with him and then he continued to hang in there and I think it is a great story.”

Fellow big man Azuolas Tubelis has made a few strides of his own, adding strength and toughness to his athletic, fluid game. The 6-10 forward leads Arizona with 19.3 points per game while grabbing 8.0 rebounds.

Fiery point guard Kerr Kriisa has rounded into a reliable floor leader, averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 assists while shooting 51% from the 3-point arc.

“I don’t pay attention to the antics because they don’t mean anything to me,” Lloyd said. “I know maybe that draws attention to him from other people but when it comes to just pure basketball, I mean he is doing a good job and I think he is really showing something.”

So is Courtney Ramey.

The Texas transfer has given the Wildcats a huge boost in his first season in Tucson, providing hounding defense, leadership and another scoring option. He’s averaging 16 points per game and has hit 10 of 16 from 3-point range so far this season.

Campbell transfer Cedric Henderson Jr. has provided an athletic lift off the bench and 7-foot Estonian Henri Veesaar has given Arizona solid minutes.

The mix of new and old has helped Arizona lead the nation with 97.5 points a game and rank second with 21.8 assists per game. The Wildcats climbed 10 spots in this week’s poll after wins over Cincinnati, No. 24 San Diego State and Creighton.

Arizona opens Pac-12 play Thursday at Utah.

“It was good to get the recognition, but we’re not satisfied,” Ramey said. “Our ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the season and be the final two teams playing, so I think the regular season matters but it’s not the ultimate goal for us.”

The Wildcats are certainly off to a good start.

Gardner, No. 3 Virginia rally for 70-68 win at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Tony Bennett’s team passed all its tests in the opening month of the season.

Jayden Gardner made a go-ahead jumper with 39.9 seconds left and blocked Jett Howard’s 3-point shot just before the buzzer, allowing No. 3 Virginia to stay undefeated with a 70-68 win over Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (6-0) won their first true road game against a team that was ranked in the first two polls this season, a little more than a week after beating then-No. 5 Baylor and then-No. 19 Illinois in Las Vegas.

“It got pretty intense in here,” Bennett said.

Virginia trailed by 11 points at halftime, rallied to go ahead with 7:25 left and built a five-point lead that didn’t last.

The Wolverines (5-2) went ahead 66-65 at the 1:42 mark when Hunter Dickinson made one of two free throws.

Michigan missed chances to stay or go ahead when Dickinson missed a hook shot with 1:01 to go and Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn turned the ball over with 16 seconds left.

“Hunter has made that running hook before,” coach Juwan Howard said. “The turnover, yes, down the stretch, it hurt, but overall that’s not the reason we lost the ballgame.

“We could’ve easily put our heads down when they came out in the second half and made a run.”

Reece Beekman, who finished with 18 points, stepped in front of Llewellyn’s pass in the final minute and made one of two free throws.

Virginia’s Armaan Franklin missed two free throws with 5.7 seconds left, giving Michigan a chance to extend or win the game. Howard took a contested shot beyond the 3-point arc on the right wing – near his father, Michigan’s coach – and Gardner came up with the block against the freshman guard while Wolverines coaches and players screamed for a foul call.

It appeared that Gardner got all ball on the block.

Kihei Clark scored 16 points, Gardner had 12, Kadin Shedrick fouled out with 12 points and Ben Vander Plas added 10 for the balanced Cavaliers.

“You need different guys, and that’s what it takes, to make plays offensively and defensively,” Bennett said.

Dickinson scored 23 points, Jett Howard had 11 of his 15 in the first half and Kobe Bufkin added 11 points for Michigan.

“Jett is a gamer, he’s going to compete no matter what,” Juwan Howard said. “He’s loved basketball since he was a little baby boy.

“He’s going to help us win a lot of games this year.”

The Wolverines started slowly, trailing 9-2 in the opening minutes, before Howard scored eight points to lead a 13-2 run. Michigan led 45-34 at halftime when Bufkin made a layup after a steal.

“We can’t be sloppy like that on the defensive end, but we did battle hard in the second half,” Bennett said.

Vander Plas scored nine points during an 11-2 run that put Virginia ahead 65-60. The Cavaliers then went 4 1/2 minutes without a basket before Gardner’s big shot.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia: The Cavaliers have their highest ranking since the 2018-19 season – which ended with a national title – and are off to their best start since being 7-0 three years ago. The team continues to honor the memory of three football players who were fatally shot on campus earlier this month, wearing warmup jerseys with their names.

Michigan: Juwan Howard’s team matched up well in its first game against a ranked opponent this season.

“When we come out with the effort like we did today for 40 minutes, I love our chances against any college team in the country,” he said.

UP NEXT

Virginia: Hosts Florida State (1-7) on Saturday.

Michigan: Plays No. 19 Kentucky (5-2) on Sunday in London.

Marquette’s defense overwhelms No. 6 Baylor in 96-70 win

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MILWAUKEE – Marquette has developed a habit under Shaka Smart of saving its top performances for the best opponents on its schedule.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper scored 24 points and Marquette capitalized on a dominant start from its defense to roll past No. 6 Baylor 96-70 on Tuesday night in the Big 12-Big East Battle. This was the highest-ranked team Marquette (6-2) has beaten under Smart and the Golden Eagles improved to to 7-6 against AP Top 25 squads in his tenure.

“Most of the time against these great teams, they don’t have us winning that game,” said David Joplin, who scored 19 points. “We just come out, we want to go out and prove everybody wrong. And that feeling, that chip makes us play so much better.”

Marquette nearly produced its most lopsided victory against a Top 25 team. The Golden Eagles trounced No. 16 Providence 88-56 on Jan. 4 in Smart’s debut season.

“When you go into a game and the game is bigger in the minds of your players than anything else, to me that’s the best recipe for winning,” Smart said. “It should be that way all the time, but human nature sometimes messes with that.”

Marquette’s defense embarrassed a highly regarded Baylor backcourt.

The Golden Eagles raced to a 51-25 halftime lead thanks to a 24-0 edge in points off turnovers. Baylor (5-2) already had a season-high 16 turnovers by halftime.

Baylor entered Tuesday ranked third among Division I teams in assist-turnover margin. The Bears had 20 turnovers and 12 assists against Marquette.

“I didn’t see that coming,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Credit the crowd. Credit them for building momentum. Credit Shaka for having them prepared and how hard they played. At the end of the day, we fed to the fire by turning it over and making some uncharacteristic mistakes.”

Prosper scored 10 points and sank two 3-pointers during a 23-2 run that turned an early 7-2 deficit into a 25-9 advantage. Chase Ross capped the spurt by getting a steal and throwing down a left-handed dunk.

Baylor never cut Marquette’s lead below 22 points in the second half.

Kam Jones had 20 points as Marquette shot 58.3% overall to win its third straight. The Golden Eagles shot 12 of 25 from 3-point range, with Jones going 4 of 7 and Prosper and Joplin each going 3 of 4.

Baylor’s LJ Cryer had 17 of his 19 points, in the second half. Adam Flagler had 16 and Keyonte George added 12 for the Bears.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears shot 48.2% (27 of 56) but had no answers for Marquette’s defense and dug too deep a hole. Baylor rallied from a 25-deficit to force overtime in an NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina last season, but the Bears never mounted any kind of comeback Tuesday.

Marquette: After losing to Purdue and Mississippi State earlier this season, the Golden Eagles delivered the kind of performance that showed they’re capable of beating anyone. Marquette will try to prove that again when it hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.

BIG 12 VS. BIG EAST

The Big 12-Big East Battle started Tuesday and runs through Sunday. Last season’s Big 12-Big East Battle ended in a 5-5 tie.

HONORING THOMPSON

Marquette came out of its locker room wearing shirts with No. 24 to honor George Thompson, who died in June of complications from diabetes. Thompson played for Marquette from 1967-69, and he was the school’s career scoring leader for 40 years.

Tuesday would have been Thompson’s 75th birthday. A No. 24 banner with Thompson’s name hangs from the Fiserv Forum rafters.

“I really felt like we needed to win tonight to honor George,” Smart said. “If you make it George Thompson Night, you couldn’t lose.”

UP NEXT

Baylor: Faces No. 14 Gonzaga on Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Marquette: Hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.

Houston reaches No. 1 in AP poll for first time since 1983

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Make some room, Phi Slama Jama. Another Houston team has reached the top of men’s college basketball.

Nearly four decades after Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon took the Cougars to No. 1, the latest bunch led by Marcus Sasser and star freshman Jarace Walker took over the top spot in the AP Top 25. They received 45 of 63 first-place votes from the national media panel, easily outdistancing second-place Texas and third-place Virginia.

“It’s not like we went online and applied for it and waited for a response back. We’ve been working for this,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team is coming off a Final Four and Elite Eight trip the past two seasons. “But remember, it’s a rental. You don’t own it. You’re just renting it because someday somebody else is going to be No. 1.”

North Carolina had been No. 1 all season, but the Tar Heels lost to Iowa State and in a four-overtime thriller to Alabama at the Phil Knight Invitational to cede the top spot to Houston, which beat Kent State in its only game last week.

The last time the Cougars ascended to No. 1 was the final poll of the 1982-83 season, when “The Glide” and “The Dream” along with coach Guy Lewis were the favorites to win it all. They rolled through the NCAA Tournament before falling to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in an iconic championship game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I’ve never been ranked No. 1,” said Sampson, now in his 34th season as a college basketball coach. “We were ranked all 12 years at Oklahoma. I’m sure we were ranked at Indiana. Then we’ve been ranked five or six straight years. We’re used to having a high level of success.”

Texas received eight first-place votes and Virginia received two. Arizona climbed from 14th to fourth after emerging from a stacked field to win the Maui Invitational. Purdue jumped from 24th all the way to fifth and scooped up eight first-place votes after beating West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke at the Phil Knight Legacy tourney.

“Our guys are competitive. They’re fun to coach. They get along. They’re out there playing with purpose and that’s what you have to have,” said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team was briefly No. 1 about this time last season.

“Early in the season, very few teams play with the purpose collectively,” he said. “I thought our guys played with a purpose.”

Baylor was sixth, Creighton seventh and U Conn climbed from 20th to eighth after beating Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State to win the Phil Knight Invitational. Kansas fell from third to ninth after losing to Tennessee in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, while Indiana rounded out the top 10.

There was a tie for 11th between SEC rivals Alabama and Arkansas with the Volunteers, another conference foe, right behind them. Gonzaga dropped from sixth to 14th, its first time outside the top 10 since Feb. 5, 2018, and Auburn was 15th.

Illinois was next followed by Duke and North Carolina in a tough week for Tobacco Road. The Blue Devils fell from eighth after their 75-56 loss to the Boilermakers.

Kentucky and Michigan State joined UCLA, Maryland, Iowa State, San Diego State and Ohio State in rounding out the poll.

RISING AND FALLING

Purdue made a rare 19-spot jump as the poll underwent a massive shakeup. UConn climbed 12 spots, Arizona moved up 10, Tennessee climbed nine and Alabama seven. On the flip side, the Tar Heels tumbled 17 spots, Duke dropped nine, Gonzaga fell eight and San Diego State fell seven.

IN AND OUT

Despite all the movement, Iowa State was the only newcomer this week, checking in at No. 23 after beating Villanova and North Carolina before falling to UConn. The Cyclones replaced Iowa, which dropped out after a one-week stay following its loss to TCU in the title game of the Emerald Coast Classic.

CONFERENCE WATCH

There are six difference conferences represented in the first seven teams in the poll. The Big Ten leads the way with six in the Top 25 while the SEC has five and the Big 12 has four, though three of them are in the top 10.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Stanford, UConn next

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South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press women’s poll, as the Gamecocks keep close watch on the foot injury of reigning Player of the Year Aliyah Boston.

The Gamecocks received all 29 first-place votes in the poll, a day after Boston left a game with her injury. Coach Dawn Staley said Boston was “questionable” going forward but added that the “team doctor wasn’t too, too concerned.”

South Carolina’s next game is at home against No. 15 UCLA.

Stanford remained No. 2 after cruising through a tournament in Hawaii. It’s the 618th appearance for Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, tying the late Pat Summitt for most all-time. Summitt’s teams only missed being in the poll 14 times during her Hall of Fame career at Tennessee.

UConn, Ohio State and Indiana rounded out the top five.

The Huskies are one of four Big East teams to be ranked this week as Marquette entered the poll at No. 24. It’s the first time the Big East has four ranked teams since the conference realigned in 2014. The league is 56-14 so far this season, including going 8-2 against ranked teams.

“We’ve been trying to earn a little more respect,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said of the Big East. “Tried to schedule tougher non-conference (games). ‘Nova’s playing people. Us going to the Bahamas was great. Creighton’s doing what they’ve been doing since last season. Getting some of those quality wins is everything.”

North Carolina moved up two spots to No. 6 after rallying to beat then-No. 5 Iowa State in the Phil Knight tournament. The Cyclones fell to eighth.

The Tar Heels visit the Hoosiers on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Indiana returns home after winning two games in Las Vegas at a subpar venue that lacked basic necessities.

Notre Dame remained No. 7 while Virginia Tech and Iowa finished off the top 10. At No. 9, Virginia Tech has matched its best ranking ever and is in the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

Tennessee fell out of the poll this week marking the 56th time in the 827-week history of the poll that the Lady Vols weren’t ranked. Kansas State also fell out with Gonzaga moving in at No. 23.

FALLING CARDINALS

Louisville dropped to 18th in the poll this week after falling to South Dakota State in the fifth place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. It’s the Cardinals lowest ranking since Jan. 11, 2016.

Louisville entered the top 10 in the preseason poll in 2017 and hadn’t been out since, a span of 98 consecutive weeks. It was the longest active streak.

“It’s a compliment to the consistency that we built here,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of being ranked in the top 10 for so long. “Obviously are goal would have been to stay in the top 10, but it’s a new team and growing.”