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Storrs Side: Men's basketball rises in the rankings to No. 21

By Elan DeCarlo
On February 18, 2014

After blowing out South Florida and surviving an overtime thriller against Memphis, UConn (20-5, 8-4 AAC) finds itself No. 21 in the nation. Last week, the Huskies sat as No. 24. UConn is currently No. 4 in the American Athletic Conference, 3.5 games behind first place Cincinnati (23-3, 12-1 AAC). UConn heads down to Philadelphia to face the Temple Owls this week, followed later by a rematch against Southern Methodist at Gampel Pavillion. Earlier in the season, SMU defeated UConn in Dallas. 

Led by Shabazz Napier and his 34 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals, the overtime victory against Memphis could be a galvanizing win heading into a crucial stretch leading up to the postseason. For his efforts, Napier was named the American Conference Player of the Week.

For the third consecutive week, Syracuse (25-0, 12-0 ACC) sits atop the AP Top 25 poll. However, Syracuse barely escaped with victories over Pitt and North Carolina State, opening the door for No. 2 Florida to receive one first place vote in the poll. Rounding out the Top 5 are No. 3 Wichita State, No. 4 Arizona and No. 5 Duke. Duke is ranked for the 132nd straight week, beginning in the preseason of the 2007-2008 campaign.

Saint Louis' 17-game winning streak has thrust the Billikens to No. 10 this week, granting them their first Top 10 appearance since December 1964.

UCLA and Gonzaga both reenter the rankings this week, at No. 23 and No. 25 respectively. They replace Southern Methodist and Pitt. 

The American Athletic Conference has only four teams in the Top 25; Cincinnati is highest at No. 7, followed by Louisville at 11, UConn, and No. 22 Memphis at 22. 

The Big Ten leads the way with five ranked programs. Michigan State (21-5, 10-3 Big 10) comes in highest at No. 13, followed by No. 15 Iowa, No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 20 Michigan and No. 24 Ohio State.

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