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Holding No. 1 ranking a new mid-season challenge for Villanova

Ryan Arcidiacono and VIllanova head coach Jay Wright.  (USA Today Images)

Ryan Arcidiacono and Villanova head coach Jay Wright. (USA Today Images)

 

AP College Basketball Poll Week 14 Rankings were released with Villanova at No. 1

For anyone who is still thinking about the upset to NC State last year, Villanova is giving a strong case for why it is time to move on and leave the past in the past.

After defeating No. 11 Providence in a sound victory on Saturday, the Week 14 AP Poll rankings have been released with Villanova sitting at the top. For the first time in program history, the Wildcats are listed at No. 1 in the Associated Press ranking after 65 media members and the USA Today surveyed 32 coaches.

Six teams received number one votes, but the Wildcats received the most with Maryland in second place. Oklahoma, Iowa and fellow Big East team, Xavier round out the Top Five. So far this season, six teams have been ranked No. 1, but none of them stayed there for more than four weeks. The last time the Wildcats had a ranking like this was in 1985. The main difference is in 1985, Villanova finished No. 1 in the poll after winning the National Championship, but this time the AP declared them the top team during the regular season.

As excited as many are for the Villanova program to receive this honor for their hard work and success so far this season, there are many teams fighting to be the NC State of the regular season, knocking off the best. Villanova has their hands full as the bulls eye on their back has now doubled in size.

On Tuesday, No. 1 Villanova faces DePaul at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 PM on FS1. It is easy to get to the top, but it is harder to stay there.

DePaul is sitting at 8-15, 2-9 in the Big East with nothing to lose in this mid-week home game for the Blue Demons. As mentioned by head coach Jay Wright, the team is getting used to the intensity of away games. The atmosphere on Saturday against Providence was a testament to that.

The best news of the week so far is not the ranking, although it is well deserved, but it is that senior center Daniel Ochefu is back practicing. Although he has not been fully cleared yet, Ochefu practiced on Monday for the first time after missing three games with a concussion. The senior captain hopes to be cleared to play against DePaul. Villanova looks to continue their success and remain humble.

In the end, all of this buzz means nothing if they are not still playing in March for hopes of a championship title. Wright, has coached three teams in the past that have been No. 2 for a total of four weeks, with the latest being the final AP poll of 2014-15 prior to the NCAA tournament. However, this season brings a new challenge for the Wildcats that even their head coach has never faced. Villanova continues its journey to remain at the top of the rankings.

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Renee is a Staff Writer at DoubleGSports.com with a focus on Temple Men's Basketball and other area sports content.
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