Kentucky ranked No. 1 in the polls

Kentucky is atop college basketball once again.

The Wildcats officially took over the No. 1 ranking in both the Associated Press Top 25 and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll on Monday. North Carolina’s loss to UNLV on Saturday night, coupled with Kentucky’s impressive 6-0 start, paved the way for UK to claim the top spot.

It’s the second time in three years the Cats have been ranked No. 1 under John Calipari. It’s also the 19th season UK has been ranked No. 1 at some point during the year in the AP Top 25.

“This early in the season it’s nice but it’s not that significant,” Coach Cal said of the ranking. “Obviously, not everyone thinks that we’re the best team. Starting three freshmen and two sophomores, they may be right. I’ll be anxious to see how the team accepts the challenge this week.”

Kentucky beat out Ohio State and Duke for the top spot with 46 of the 65 first-place votes in the AP Top 25. The Cats collected 22 of the 31 first-place votes in the Coaches’ Poll.

Ohio State, Duke, Syracuse and North Carolina followed UK in the AP Top 25. Syracuse was ranked No. 3, ahead of No. 4 Duke, in the Coaches’ Poll.

Although North Carolina’s drop in the rankings ruined a possible 1 vs. 2 game on Saturday, the 1 vs. 5 matchup will mark the highest-ranked opponents (combined) in a UK game to play at Rupp Arena since a 1 vs. 5 UK-Indiana matchup in 1979.

Kentucky owns a 154-24 all-time mark as the top-ranked team (AP) in the country and has won eight of its last 11 games as the AP’s No. 1 team.

Calipari is one of just two coaches (Frank McGuire) to lead three teams to a No. 1 ranking. Calipari is 42-6 as the top-ranked coach in the country. He tallied a 32-4 mark at UMass when the Minutemen were No. 1 and he was 9-1 at Memphis when he had the Tigers at the pinnacle of the rankings.

In addition, Calipari has guided three of his last five teams to the No. 1 ranking and this year marks the fifth time he’s led his team to the top ranking. He guided his 1994-95 and 1995-96 UMass teams to the No. 1 ranking, as well as his 2007-08 Memphis team and his 2009-10 and 2011-12 Kentucky teams.

Five Southeastern Conference teams are in both polls.

AP Top 25