New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Michigan State is a near unanimous choice as the nation's top-ranked men's college basketball team, but its opponent this week in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, North Carolina, has dropped out of the latest Associated Press poll.
The Spartans are the No. 1 team for a school-record third straight week, eclipsing the previous best of two set during the 2000-01 season. Michigan State received 63 of a possible 65 first-place votes and 1,623 points from a nationwide media panel.
North Carolina, which will visit East Lansing on Wednesday, started the season as the 12th-ranked team and was No. 16 last week before suffering its second loss of the campaign -- a 63-59 setback at UAB on Sunday.
Arizona picked up the remaining two first-place votes after beating Duke for the NIT Season Tip-off title and moved up two spots to second. Kentucky held at No. 3, while Maui Invitational champion Syracuse vaulted four places to fourth.
Ohio State, Kansas, Louisville, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Duke complete this week's top 10. Kansas dropped four places from second after losing to Villanova on Friday in the Bahamas, while Duke also dipped four spots from sixth after the 72-66 setback to Arizona at Madison Square Garden and Oklahoma State also fell four spots from fifth following a loss to Memphis in the final of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The second 10 consists of Wichita State, Connecticut, Oregon, Villanova, Florida, Memphis, Iowa State, UCLA, Gonzaga and Baylor. Villanova makes its first appearance in the poll this season, as the Wildcats followed up the upset of Kansas with a victory over Iowa in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. Gonzaga tumbled eight places from 11th after falling to Dayton in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Massachusetts, Michigan, Iowa, San Diego State and Dayton are the last five teams ranked. San Diego State won the Wooden Legacy this weekend, beating then-ranked opponents Creighton and Marquette, and Dayton earned a spot in the poll with its win over Gonzaga and a narrow loss to Baylor in Maui.
Creighton, which also lost to George Washington in California, was 20th before dropping out, while Marquette was 25th last week and fell out of the poll after suffering its third loss of the young season on Sunday against San Diego State.
This week's Big Ten-ACC Challenge features a ranked matchup Tuesday when Michigan visits Duke, while Kentucky squares off with Baylor on Friday in Arlington as part of the Big 12-SEC Challenge.