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Richmond in Top 25 for first time in 24 years

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

Chris Mooney and the Richmond Spiders set a bunch of goals before the season, including an Atlantic 10 regular-season title and their first NCAA tournament bid in six years.

After two road victories last week moved the Spiders into first place in the conference, they accomplished another goal Monday: making the Top 25 for the first time in 24 years.

"It's really a significant accomplishment, and we've been very open with our guys about this, that it was something that we wanted to accomplish," said Mooney, in his fifth season in charge. "It's not going to help us beat Fordham, but it's certainly going to make us feel really good and understand we've been recognized in a really, really elite category."

In a week when Kansas State climbed to No. 7, its highest ranking in nearly five decades, the Spiders joined the AP poll at No. 25 for the first time since January 1986. It's just the fourth time in school history that the small, private school has been in the poll.

The Spiders (20-6, 9-2) host Fordham (2-21, 0-11) on Wednesday night, trying to stretch their winning streak to seven. Last week, they used a late 9-1 run to hand Rhode Island just its fourth loss, 69-67, and then rolled at St. Bonaventure, 68-49.

Mooney doesn't expect the Spiders' new status to be a problem.

"We'll see if it changes anything," he said Monday. "We didn't want to hide from it. We wanted to seek it, and I know that ultimately it doesn't mean you've accomplished your other goals. It doesn't give you the championship of the A-10, or it doesn't give you an NCAA tournament berth, but it does mean something."

Richmond, whose winning streak includes a 71-54 victory over Temple, was also ranked for three weeks in 1954-55, two weeks in 1957-58 and the one-week stint in January 1986.

Its success last week stood in contrast to four of the top 10 teams losing.

Kansas (24-1) was again a runaway No. 1, receiving 62 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel to hold the top spot for the third week in a row. Kentucky (24-1), which had the other No. 1 nods, moved up one spot to No. 2.

Villanova moved up one place to No. 3, with Purdue gaining two places to fourth, the sixth week this season the Boilermakers have reached that spot.

Syracuse, which had its 11-game winning streak stopped by Louisville on Sunday, dropped from second to fifth. Duke strengthened its lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a win over Maryland on Saturday and jumped from eighth to sixth.

Kansas State (20-4) achieved its highest ranking since it was sixth in the final poll of the 1961-62 season. West Virginia, which lost to Villanova and Pitt last week, fell to No. 8, followed by Ohio State and Georgetown, an upset victim of Rutgers on Sunday.

Michigan State, which lost to Purdue, dropped one spot to 11th and was followed by New Mexico, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Texas, BYU, Vanderbilt, Butler, Pittsburgh and Tennessee, which dropped eight spots after losing to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

The last five teams were Temple, Baylor and newcomers Wake Forest, Texas A&M and Richmond.

Northern Iowa, Georgia Tech and UNLV dropped out this week.

Wake Forest (18-5), which has won four straight and six of seven including a 75-64 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday, moved in for the first time this season. The Demon Deacons, who were ranked all last season including one week at No. 1, are in second place in the ACC.

Texas A&M (18-6) was ranked for four weeks earlier this season and the Aggies moved back in having won four straight and six of seven, moving into a second-place tie with Kansas State in the Big 12 behind Kansas.

Northern Iowa (22-3), which has clinched at least a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title, dropped out from No. 19 following a 68-59 loss at Bradley on Saturday that snapped a six-game winning streak.

Georgia Tech (17-8) fell out from 20th after six straight weeks in the rankings. The Yellow Jackets, who lost to Miami and Wake Forest last week, dropped to 1-5 in ACC road games.

UNLV (19-6) returned to the poll last week at No. 23 after being out the previous eight weeks. The Rebels had won seven of eight games before losing to New Mexico and San Diego State.

Ohio State is in two of this week's six games between ranked teams. The Buckeyes host Purdue on Wednesday and are at Michigan State on Sunday. The other games are: Kansas at Texas A&M on Monday; Syracuse at Georgetown on Thursday; Kentucky at Vanderbilt on Saturday; and Villanova at Pittsburgh on Sunday.