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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Illinois' Big Leap

As a guest blogger for Yoni's site I have been struggling to try to come up with something, beyond basic punditry, to blog about. Several newsworthy events occurred today, but anyone reading ESPN would know Henry Bibby got terminated @ USC, a new AP Poll came out, and Virginia was upset by Iowa State. So what was I to blog about?

Hidden inside this week's AP Poll, I found my answer. In the new poll was Illinois' Big Leap, all the way from from 5th to 1st. Illinois jumped over three previously undefeated teams and took home #1. How many times in NCAA History has a team made a leap that big to the top spot? Thinking back I simply could not recall a jump of this magnitude. I figured I had found a statistical anomaly and quickly started doing some research.

To answer my own question, according to my count, exactly 10 times in the history of the AP rankings (created in 1949) has a team previously jumped from 5th to 1st. And, more impressively, only once in the past 14 years has a jump of this magnitude occurred. The jumps I unearthed are:

- January 17th,1950: Holy Cross jumped from 5th to 1st
- December 30th, 1952: Kansas State jumped from 5th to 1st
- December 24th, 1957: West Virginia jumped from 8th to 1st
- December 14th, 1965: Duke jumped from 6th to 1st
- December 28th, 1982: Indiana jumped from 5th to 1st
- January 18th, 1983: UCLA jumped from 5th to 1st
- February 9th, 1988: Temple jumped from 5th to 1st
- February 14th, 1989: Oklahoma, jumped from 5th to 1st
- March 6th, 1990: Oklahoma jumped from 5th to 1st
- November 25th, 2003: Kansas, jumped from 6th to 1st

You may ask, "What does all of this mean and why should I care?" In my opinion, the answer to that question is simple: Illinois' dismantling of Wake Forest this past weekend was more than just impressive, it was historic. The victory was so decisive that its impact on the AP rankings has rarely been matched in the annals of college basketball.

To view past AP rankings, check out this link: