Northwestern enters rare territory

December 29, 2009

It usually isn't big news when a Big Ten team moves into the Associated Press poll. It is when that team is Northwestern.

The Wildcats moved into the poll Monday at No. 25, their first appearance since January 1969, when it was still a Top 20.

With Kansas again a runaway No. 1, as it has been since the preseason poll, the top eight remained the same for the third straight week.

Northwestern (10-1) has won nine straight since a loss to Butler. The Wildcats, the only team from a BCS conference never to play in the NCAA tournament, were ranked for three weeks in 1968-69. They made the poll only two other times: for one week in 1954-55 and for seven weeks in 1958-59.

The Wildcats are off to a strong start despite losing two key seniors, Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan, for the season because of injuries.

"It just shows that our team is very mature. Everyone stepped up, we came together," said junior point guard Michael Thompson, who scored a career-high 31 last month against Tennessee State. "We're just working hard and having fun."

Three other teams moved into the rankings: No. 22 Florida State, No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 24 UAB.

•North Carolina swingman Marcus Ginyard was sidelined Monday night against Rutgers with a sprained right ankle and is doubtful Wednesday against Albany. The fifth-year senior was hurt on a drive to the basket during practice Saturday. ... Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said freshman Adrien Coleman is leaving the team and plans to transfer to another school.

AP

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