Winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Sunday might not have done wonders for Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament seeding, but it certainly buoyed the Cats in the eyes of the AP Top 25 poll voters.
Kentucky, which has bounced in and out of the poll over the last few weeks during a roller-coaster season in one of the toughest conferences in basketball, jumped back into the final survey at No. 18 after winning three straight games in the SEC Tournament, including two of those against fellow NCAA Tournament teams in Alabama and No. 13 Tennessee.
In all, the SEC placed eight teams in the NCAA Tournament and four of them in the final AP poll. Also ranked in the final week were co-SEC regular-season champion Auburn at No. 19 and Florida at No. 23.
The Cats next face Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament champion Davidson at 7:10 p.m. EDT Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
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At the top of the poll, Virginia went from being an unranked team that few expected to contend in the Atlantic Coast Conference to the unanimous No. 1 by AP voters.
The Cavaliers (31-2) earned all 65 first-place votes in Monday’s poll to remain on top for the fifth straight week, the past two by unanimous counts. That came after Virginia completed a 20-1 run against Atlantic Coast Conference teams by winning the league tournament, which helped the Cavs secure the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia was picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the ACC, but climbed to No. 1 exactly one month ago for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era.
Now the Cavaliers, who headline the NCAA South Region, will try to make the Final Four for only the third time and first since 1984.
The top four teams in the AP poll matched the selection committee’s No. 1 seeds. Villanova (30-4) won the Big East Tournament and stayed at No. 2, while Xavier (28-5) was third and Kansas (27-7) jumped five spots to fourth after winning the Big 12 Tournament.
The AP Top 25
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ men’s college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Mar. 11, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:
1. Virginia (65)
5. Michigan St.
10. North Carolina
14. Texas Tech
15. West Virginia
16. Wichita St.
17. Ohio St.
25. Saint Mary’s (Calif.)
Others receiving votes: Arkansas 69, Loyola of Chicago 68, Rhode Island 66, TCU 40, Providence 22, New Mexico St. 15, Butler 9, St. Bonaventure 8, Southern Cal 7, Kansas St. 6, UCLA 5, Seton Hall 5, Buffalo 5, Creighton 4, South Dakota St. 3, Virginia Tech 2, Murray St. 2, Middle Tennessee 2, San Diego St. 2, Davidson 1, Missouri 1.
AP Poll Board
The voters in the 2017-18 AP college basketball poll:
Elton Alexander, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
Tyson Alger, The Oregonian, Portland
Mark Berman, The Roanoke (Va.) Times
John Bohnenkamp, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa
Dave Borges, New Haven (Conn.) Register
Rich Bozich, WDRB-TV, Louisville, Ky.
Kevin Brockway, The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun
Lauren Brownlow, WRALSportsFan.com, Raleigh, N.C.
J.P. Butler, Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald
Jason Butt, Macon (Ga.) Telegraph
Jerry Carino, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press
David Cloninger, The State, Columbia, S.C.
David Cobb, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press
Mark Cooper, Tulsa (Okla.) World
Graham Couch, Lansing (Mich.) State Journal
Richard Croome, The Eagle, Bryan-College Station, Texas
Chris Dachille, WBAL-TV, Baltimore
Seth Davis, CBS-Sports Illustrated
Luke DeCock, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.
Doug Doughty, The Roanoke (Va.) Times
John Feinstein, Washington Post
Justin Ferguson, SEC COUNTRY
Marcus Fuller, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Scott Gleeson, USA Today
Geoff Grammer, Albuquerque Journal
Doug Haller, Arizona Republic, Phoenix
Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, Ark.
Cecil Hurt, The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News
Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star
Justin Jackson, Morgantown (W.Va.) Dominion Post
Joe Juliano, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Paul Klee, Colorado Springs Gazette
Joey Knight, Tampa (Fla.) Bay Times
Theo Lawson, Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.
Andrew Lopez, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, New Orleans
Kevin Lyttle, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Scott Mansch, Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune
Dave Matter, St. Louis Post Dispatch
Matt McCoy, WTVN-AM, Columbus, Ohio
Brian McInnis, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
John McNamara, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Kevin McNamara, The Providence (R.I.) Journal
Craig Meyer, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Sheldon Mickles, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
Antonio Morales, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.
Chris Murray, Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal
Jesse Newell, Kansas City (Mo.) Star
Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Daily News
Jon Nyatawa, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald
Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star
Tony Parks, 1280 AM/97.5 FM KZNS, Salt Lake City
B.J. Rains, Idaho Press-Tribune, Nampa
Joe Rexrode, The Tennesean, Nashville, Tenn.
Scott Richey, The News-Gazette, Champaign, Ill.
Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports, New York
Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune
Carlos Silva, Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal
Benjamin Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Terry Toohey, Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times
Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, Mass.
Dick Vitale, ABC/ESPN
Brant Wilkerson-New, The News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
Jon Wilner, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News
Scott Wolf, Los Angeles Daily News
Norm Wood, The Daily Press, Newport News, Va.