Kentucky new No. 1 in AP Top 25 after beating Michigan State

(AP)-Kentucky is back in a familiar position under John Calipari: No. 1 in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.

The Wildcats rose one spot after winning a 1-vs-2 matchup with Michigan State to open the season in the Champions Classic, followed by an easy win against Eastern Kentucky. They earned 64 of 65 first-place votes in Monday’s poll to finish ahead of No. 2 Duke.

It marks the first time the Wildcats (2-0) have reached No. 1 since spending two weeks there early in the 2016-17 season.

Yet it’s the seventh of Calipari’s 11 seasons that the Wildcats have spent at least one week atop the AP Top 25. That includes 10 weeks during the 2011-12 season on the way to the national championship and a start-to-finish stay in 2014-15 as the Wildcats carried an unbeaten record to the Final Four, where they lost to Wisconsin.

“We’ve grown very close over this time we’ve spent together, and I feel like the closer we are, the better we are going into the postseason, throughout the year,” freshman forward Keion Brooks Jr. said after Friday’s victory over the Colonels.

THE TOP TIER

The same five teams were at the top of the poll, just in reshuffled order.

Duke climbed two spots to No. 2 after winning a top-4 matchup against Kansas at the Classic. The Blue Devils were ranked second on 48 ballots, third on 13 more and no lower than fifth on any ballot.

The Spartans were No. 1 in the AP preseason poll for the first time in program history entering the Kentucky game but fell to third, followed by Louisville — which claimed the remaining first-place vote — and Kansas.

North Carolina, Maryland, Gonzaga, reigning national champion Virginia and Villanova rounded out the top 10.

RISING

It was a week of modest climbs for poll risers, with the Tar Heels (2-0) moving up three spots for the biggest gain.

Twelve teams moved up in the poll, with Duke, Virginia, No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 18 St. Mary’s, No. 19 Arizona and No. 22 Auburn all moving up two spots.

The list of risers included No. 13 Memphis, which moved up one spot after two wins despite concerns — and even a court order — involving the eligibility of star freshman James Wiseman.

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