Pro Side: Men's basketball back among nation's top 25 teams
After a four-week absence, UConn men's basketball is back in the AP Top 25 poll.
Receiving 252 points from the 68 voters, UConn (17-4, 5-3 American Athletic Conference) checks in at No. 22 this week. The Huskies began the season ranked 19th and were ranked as high as ninth after defeating Florida in December.
After a rough stretch ending 2013 and beginning 2014, the Huskies fell from the rankings, but they have since hit a hot streak, winning six of their last seven games. UConn dominated its only game this week, defeating Houston 80-43 without junior forward DeAndre Daniels.
UConn's next opponent, Cincinnati, is the highest ranked of the four AAC teams in the Top 25. After beating defending national champion Louisville and surviving a scare against South Florida, the Bearcats (21-2, 10-0 AAC) are ranked seventh in the country, which is their highest ranking in the past 10 years. Thursday's game will be the first between the two as part of the AAC, but the Huskies have beat the Bearcats in eight out of their 12 matchups dating back to 1995.
UConn's trip to the Fifth Third Arena could be a difficult test. Cincinnati has won 88 percent of its home games since the arena opened, and the Bearcats are undefeated at home this season.
In total, the American Athletic Conference is tied with the Atlantic Coast Conference for the second highest number of teams in the top 25, behind the Big 12 Conference.
Joining UConn and Cincinnati in the rankings are No. 14 Louisville (18-4, 7-2 AAC), who dropped two spots after the loss to the Bearcats, and No. 24 Memphis (16-5, 6-3 AAC). The Tigers remained in the rankings despite losing to Southern Methodist by 15 on Saturday. SMU (17-5, 6-3 AAC), meanwhile, was twenty-ninth in voting in this week's poll.
Syracuse was unanimously voted No. 1 this week after Arizona lost on a last-second shot to California on Saturday night. Syracuse outlasted Duke in overtime Saturday night to improve to 21-0 and obtain the No. 1 ranking for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Despite losing Saturday night, Duke climbed six spots from No. 17 to No. 11 this week.
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