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Bearcats Break into Top 20 of AP Poll

No. 20 is still inside the top 20.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats slow climb in the AP Top 25 continued on Monday, as they rose from No. 22 to No. 20 in the most recent poll. The No. 20 ranking marks the highest point they have reached this season.

Since last week’s poll, UC (15-2, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) collected two more wins, pushing its winning streak to eight games. The first victory was a big one, as the Bearcats escaped with a 66-64 triumph against SMU at home on Thursday. After that win, UC seemed bound for a spot inside the top 20, not just at the very entrance gate.

Unfortunately, its likely that the cold shooting and small margin of victory against a less than stellar East Carolina team on Sunday kept UC’s rankings jump to a more modest height.

The Bearcats remain the only ranked team from the AAC, with SMU still on the fringes, receiving eight votes.

At the top of the poll, Villanova returned after Baylor leapfrogged the defending national champions last week. The rest of the top five includes Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga and Kentucky. At No. 4, Gonzaga remains the only undefeated team left at the Division I level. Meanwhile, Baylor fell to No. 6 after taking a beating from West Virginia last Tuesday for its first setback of the season.