TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12. Now the Sun Devils are one of the biggest surprises in college basketball, inching toward the program’s first No. 1 ranking.
Arizona State moved up two spots to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 released on Monday, leapfrogging preseason No. 1 Duke after Wichita State dropped out of the top 10.
Villanova was No. 1 for the second straight week, receiving 45 of 65 first-place votes from a media panel. Michigan State stayed at No. 2 and received 15 first-place votes, with Arizona State getting the final five first-place votes to match its highest ranking as a program.
No. 5 North Carolina, Miami, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Xavier and West Virginia rounded out the top 10.
Arizona State had been No. 5, right behind Duke, but moved past the Blue Devils after rallying from a shaky start to handily beat Vanderbilt on Sunday. The Sun Devils are 10-0 and one of the most exciting teams to watch in college basketball, led by four freewheeling guards who have helped turn ASU into “Guard U.”
Arizona State rallied from a 13-0 hole to beat Vanderbilt 76-64 on Sunday, following a program-defining win at Kansas last week.
The Sun Devils received first-place votes for the first time in last week’s poll and have matched their highest ranking, also accomplished in 1981 and 1963.
“They play with a lot of intensity and you have to match that intensity the whole game,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said after Sunday’s game.
Moving into the top spot in the AP Top 25 could cause some teams to feel pressure. Not at Villanova.
The Wildcats (11-0) won a national championship in 2016 and have reached No. 1 each of the past three seasons. The handled their first game as No. 1 this season with ease, blowing past Temple 87-67 behind another huge game by Jalen Brunson.