Kentucky mens basketball breaks into AP Top 25 for the first time since week eight


Samuel Colmar

Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin (0) laughs with Kentucky Wildcats guard Cason Wallace (22) during the Kentucky vs. Auburn mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 86-54. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Ayden Parece, Reporter

Kentucky mens basketball broke its way into the week 17 AP Poll on Monday for the first time in nine weeks. 

Kentucky’s 12 votes in the week 16 poll were the most it had received in weeks and, with two quality wins in the form of beating Florida in Gainesville and Auburn by 32 at home, the Wildcats jumped all the way up to No. 23 in the country in the week 17 poll.

The Wildcats defeated the Gators 82-74 on Wednesday before notching their fourth consecutive SEC win over the Auburn Tigers in a one-sided 86-54 blowout at home on Saturday.

Following Kentucky’s back-to-back wins, the Cats currently sit at a 20-9 overall record with an 11-5 conference record, enough to hold sole possession of third place in the SEC.

Although Kentucky’s status in the AP Top 25 was a large change for the team, the top five ranked teams could hardly relate, remaining unchanged entirely.

Kentucky Wildcats forward Jacob Toppin (0) reacts to a foul call during the Kentucky vs. Auburn mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 86-54. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

The No. 1 Houston Cougars (27-2) once again sat atop the top 25, followed by SEC representative Alabama (25-4) at No. 2 and No. 3 Kansas (24-5) representing the Big 12.

The No. 4 UCLA Bruins (25-4) and No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers (24-5) rounded out the top five.

With the addition of Kentucky and Texas A&M into the top 25 in the past two weeks, the SEC has begun to creep back up on the Big East and the Big 12 in having the most ranked representatives.

The three conferences boast a combined 13 teams inside the top 25, though the Big 12 remained the larger presence within the higher seeds, having four teams inside the top 15 rankings compared to the Big East and SEC’s two.

Alabama remained the SEC’s highest ranked team, also being the highest ranked team from any of the three conferences, while Kansas represented the Big 12 and No. 6 Marquette represented the Big East.

Looking into the biggest movers in the rankings, the week 17 poll saw the aforementioned Marquette jump four spots from No. 10 after its 73-71 win over formerly No. 19 Creighton on the road.

In the opposite direction, Virginia dropped seven spots from No. 6 to No. 13 after back-to-back losses to Boston College and North Carolina, marking the Tar Heels’ first quadrant-1 win of the season after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll.

Circling back toward the upward trajectories from the week 17 poll, UConn moved up four spots from No. 18 to No. 14 after beating No. 20 Providence 87-69. The Friars remained unchanged.

Pittsburgh broke into the top 25 in the new poll as well, taking over the No. 25 spot with Texas A&M’s jump to No. 24 despite its loss to Mississippi State.

With the final week of the regular season due to kickoff, Kentucky will return to action on Wednesday, Mar. 1, facing off against Vanderbilt in Lexington. Tip-off against the Commodores is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST inside Rupp Arena and will air live on ESPN. 

The Wildcats will then round out their week and regular season in search of another quadrant-1 win against Arkansas on Saturday, Mar. 4, in Fayetteville at 2 p.m. EST inside Bud Walton Arena. 

A full list of AP Top 25 can be viewed below:

  1. Houston Cougars (27-2)
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide (25-4)
  3. Kansas Jayhawks (24-5)
  4. UCLA Bruins (25-4)
  5. Purdue Boilermakers (24-5)
  6. Marquette Golden Eagles (23-6)
  7. Baylor Bears (21-8)
  8. Arizona Wildcats (24-5)
  9. Texas Longhorns (22-7)
  10. Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-5)
  11. Kansas State Wildcats (22-7)
  12. Tennessee Volunteers (21-8)
  13. Virginia Cavaliers (21-8)
  14. UConn Huskies (22-7)
  15. Indiana Hoosiers (20-9)
  16. Miami Hurricanes (23-6)
  17. Saint Mary’s Gaels (25-6)
  18. San Diego State Aztecs (23-5)
  19. Xavier Musketeers (21-8)
  20. Providence Friars (21-8)
  21. Maryland Terrapins (20-9)
  22. TCU Horned Frogs (19-10)
  23. Kentucky Wildcats (20-9)
  24. Texas A&M Aggies (21-8)
  25. Pittsburgh Panthers (21-8)

Others receiving votes:

Creighton (87), Duke (78), Oral Roberts (40), Northwestern (39), FAU (25), Iowa State (20), Nevada (17), Missouri (16), Arkansas (7), NC State (6), Charleston (6), Clemson (5), Memphis (4), Boise State (3), VCU (1), West Virginia (1).