Charles E. Sutton | 1/31/2013, 11:39 a.m.
Michigan Ranked No. 1
The Michigan Wolverines are No. 1 in the Associated Press' college basketball poll for the first time in 20 years. The last time they were ranked number one was in their Fab Five days. Coach John Beilein cautioned his team not to get caught up in all the recognition.
Michigan claimed the top spot after a 74-60 win at Illinois on Sunday night. All season long Michigan's goal has been to be No. 1 in the Big Ten. They believe that if they can accomplish that goal, it will set them up for a shot at the national championship.
As the season progresses, fans become more interested in polls because it gives them an indication regarding who's hot and who's not. Meanwhile, coaches and players try to remain focused on improving daily and competing for the championship within their respective conferences.
The Wolverines tied for the Big Ten title last season, and they're in a dead heat atop the conference right now with No. 3 Indiana. The Hoosiers will play host to Michigan on Saturday night.
The 65-member national media panel gave Michigan 51 first-place votes on Monday. Kansas moved up one spot to No. 2 and received 13 first place votes. They are the only one-loss teams in the poll. Indiana, Florida and Duke round out the top five.
Last week, Duke was No. 1, until they got crushed 90-63 by Miami in the third-worst loss by a top-ranked team. It was the second consecutive week the No. 1 team lost.
The Wolverines elevated from No. 2 to become No. 1 for the fourth time. They held the top position for 10 weeks in 1964-65, eight weeks in 1976-77 and three weeks at the start of 1992-93, the Fab Five's second and final season together.
That season, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson advanced to the national championship game for the second consecutive year.
Beilein took over the program in 2007 and qualified for the NCAA tournament in his second season with the Wolverines, but the program's ascent didn't really start until two seasons ago.
Today the Wolverines are in the national title picture primarily because of guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway and a talented group of freshman. However, Michigan's toughest contests still lie ahead. Four of their next five games are against Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.