NCAA

Virginia Moving Closer to First No. 1 Ranking in Decades After Taking Down Duke

usatsi_10569399.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Moving Closer to First No. 1 Ranking in Decades After Taking Down Duke

Virginia has not been ranked No. 1 since Ralph Sampson patrolled the lane in Charlottesville.

The Cavaliers took a step toward their first top ranking in 35 years on Monday, earning 17 of 65 first-place votes from a media panel following wins over No. 18 Clemson and No. 4 Duke.

Villanova remained at No. 1 for the fourth straight week, receiving 47 first-place votes after a pair of victories last week.

Purdue had one first-place vote and remained at No. 3, Duke did not fall back despite its loss to Virginia and Michigan State moved up a spot to round out the top 5.

RELATED: MICHIGAN STATE'S TOM IZZO IS REMORSEFUL BUT NEEDS TO DO MORE

The Cavaliers (20-1, 9-0) annually have one of the nation's top defenses under coach Tony Bennett and this season has been no different.

Virginia is first nationally in scoring defense at 52.1 points allowed per game and is third in field goal percentage against, holding opponents to 37 percent.

The Cavaliers held No. 18 Clemson to 36 points -- 13 in the second half -- in a 25-point victory and shut down one of the nation's top offenses in a 65-63 win over Duke, their 12th straight victory.

The Cavaliers lead the ACC by 2 1/2 games and are off to their best conference start since the Sampson-led 1980-81 team won its first 12 games. Virginia has not been ranked No. 1 since 1981-82, a team also centered by Sampson.

"There's talent and I don't think our players sometimes get enough credit for their talent," Bennett said. "But there is a synergy or a chemistry that when they're right, it's even better."

Virginia hosts Louisville on Wednesday and plays at Syracuse on Saturday.

RELATED: LAST WEEK'S AP POLL

STEADY BOILERMAKERS

Purdue (21-2, 10-0 Big Ten) held onto its highest ranking since 2009-10 by extending the nation's longest winning streak.

The Boilermakers held off No. 25 Michigan 92-88, then knocked off rival Indiana 74-67 in games last week.

Purdue has won a school-record 17 straight games since suffering its lone loss, to Tennessee in the Bahamas on Nov. 22. The Boilermakers have set another school mark with 12 straight Big Ten victories and joins Virginia as the only power-five schools still unbeaten in league play.

TAR HEELS FALLING

North Carolina's national title defense has hit some bumps in the road.

The Tar Heels went 11-2 in nonconference, but are middle of the pack in the ACC at 5-4. North Carolina (16-6) lost both of its games after moving into the top 10 last week, 80-69 to Virginia Tech and 95-91 to North Carolina State.

The rough week cost the Tar Heels in this week's poll. They had the week's biggest drop, falling nine spots to No. 19.

KENTUCKY'S BACK

Kentucky fell out of the poll for the first time in nearly four years last week after losses to South Carolina and Florida.

Look who's bask.

The Wildcats (16-5, 5-3 SEC) moved back into the poll at No. 21 this week following victories over Mississippi State and No. 7 West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Kentucky faces Vanderbilt and Missouri this week.

MOUNTAINEERS DROP

West Virginia's loss to Kentucky wasn't its only setback last week and it cost the Mountaineers.

West Virginia (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) fell eight spots in this week's poll to No. 15 after dropping games to the Wildcats and TCU. The Mountaineers are in a four-way tie for second in the Big 12 with No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 12 Oklahoma and Kansas State, a game behind Kansas.

FALLING OUT

Nevada was the only team to drop out this week, falling from No. 23 after losing to Wyoming in double overtime.

RELATED: DMV COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS

Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

jessie_govan_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

After testing the NBA Draft waters, Georgetown center Jessie Govan decided to return to the Hoyas for his senior season.

Govan announced his intention to return on Instagram a week before the final commitment deadline.

Returning to the Hoyas is definitely a boost to the program that will be in their second year under head coach Patrick Ewing.  At 6-10, Govan was the team’s leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and rebounder (10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double last season.

Paired alongside power forward Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas were nearly unstoppable in the paint. Derrickson though decided to forgo his senior year and signed with an agent after the season.

Had Govan decided to leave that would have meant over 56 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding would have departed (to graduation or professional pursuits) in a handful of months. Not the best outlook for a 15-win team that went 5-13 in the Big East.

Instead Ewing gets back his leading scorer that many believe he can mold as a young protégée. While in the draft process without an agent Govan had workouts with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Both are valuable experiences that he will bring to a relatively young Georgetown squad.

Having Govan for one more year will bridge Ewing’s second season to transfer big-man, Omer Yurtseven to his first year of eligibility in 2019. They were set up to having a walk-on and two sophomores being the only returning Hoyas over 6-6 for the upcoming season.

MORE HOYAS STORIES:

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

omer_yurtseven_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

MORE NCAA: TOP BUZZER BEATERS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.