Baylor Basketball Remains No. 1, Four Texas Schools in Top 25

Baylor forward (0) celebrating during the closing moments of a win over Villanova. | Image from USA TODAY Sports

The Baylor Bears remain ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation in the Associated Press poll for the third straight week. Unlike the previous two weeks, this week’s No. 1 ranking is unanimous as the Bears (11-0) received all 61 first-place votes.

Last week, Baylor received 60 first-place votes, with the lone dissenting vote cast for then-undefeated Arizona. Since then, Baylor won a 94-57 blowout over Alcorn State, and Arizona suffered a road loss to No. 14 Tennessee. After their defeat, Arizona dropped from No. 6 to No. 9 in the rankings.

On the season, Baylor holds impressive wins of 75-58 over No. 10 Michigan State and 57-36 over No. 22 Villanova.

Big 12 intra-conference play begins this week, and the Bears will face a stiff challenge to open the league. Their first Big 12 opponent of the season will be undefeated No. 8 Iowa State on New Year’s Day.

Iowa State’s 12-0 record is one of the season’s biggest surprises; they were unranked in the AP’s preseason rankings. The game will be played in Iowa, giving the defending champion Bears one of their biggest challenges this season and the nation a chance to see if Iowa State’s hot start to the season is no fluke.

Duke, Purdue, Gonzaga, and UCLA make up the rest of the top five behind Baylor, while Kansas is the second-highest ranked Big 12 team in this week’s poll at No. 6.

The Houston Cougars are the next highest-ranked Texas team, with a No. 12 ranking. The Cougars’ (11-2) two defeats came in a two-point loss to No. 24 Wisconsin and a one-point loss to No. 19 Alabama.

The Cougars look poised to put together another successful season. Houston does not have an opponent on their remaining schedule ranked in this week’s AP poll. Last year, the Cougars posted a 28-4 record en route to losing to the eventual champion Baylor Bears in the national semifinals.

The Texas Longhorns are ranked as the third-best team in Texas with a No. 17 ranking. The Longhorns (9-2) lost both of their only opportunities so far to beat ranked opponents, losing to No. 4 Gonzaga and No. 15 Seton Hall, both on the road. Texas opens Big 12 play on New Year’s day with a tough home matchup against 11-1 West Virginia.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are ranked as the No. 25 team in the nation for the second consecutive week. The team has an impressive 57-52 win over No. 14 Tennessee at a neutral site on their resume.

The Red Raiders (10-2) were dealt a tough hand in their Big 12 Conference schedule. They will open conference play by facing the conference’s three top-ten teams within a week. First, against No. 8 Iowa State on January 5, then against No. 6 Kansas on January 8, and No. 1 Baylor on January 11.

The game against Kansas will be in Lubbock, while the other two will be on the road.

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