The University of Utah continued to climb in the polls, moving from ninth to eighth this week on the strength of its 72-71 overtime victory over BYU in Provo last Saturday. The Utes are a lofty 26-2 going into this week's WAC tournament. They also moved up a spot in the United Press International poll, from 10th to ninth.
Rankings and tournament bids were the farthest things from the minds of DePaul followers nine games into the season. Reaching the .500 mark was a more realistic goal in the last season the Blue Demons would spend as an independent.Winning streaks of four, eight and three games were more than enough to offset three more losses as DePaul turned the 4-5 start into 25th place in the poll and an almost sure at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the only one earned by an independent.
It's DePaul's first appearance in the rankings since starting the 1987-88 season as No. 20 in the preseason poll.
UNLV (27-0) remained the unamimous choice for No. 1 as the Runnin' Rebels finished the regular season undefeated, the first team to accomplish that feat since 1979.
Ohio State (25-1) held second, while Indiana (25-4) moved from fifth to third and Syracuse (26-4) from sixth to fourth. Arkansas (28-3), which lost to Texas on Sunday in its final Southwest Conference regular-season game, fell two places to fifth and was followed in the Top Ten by Duke (25-6), North Carolina (22-5), Utah (26-2), Arizona (24-6) and Kentucky (22-6).
The Second Ten was New Mexico State, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, East Tennessee State, Louisiana State, UCLA, Mississippi State, Princeton and St. John's.
Seton Hall led the final five and was followed by Southern Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and DePaul.
Pittsburgh and Virginia fell from the poll after losing their final regular-season games, while Texas and DePaul jumped in.
DePaul has some quality wins with road victories over Pepperdine and Georgetown and a win over Houston. The losses have been to NCAA-quality teams Texas, UCLA, Oklahoma State, North Carolina and Wisconsin-Green Bay and Northern Illinois, one or both of which will represent the Mid-Continent Conference.
"We've won 14 of our last 17 so we've been saving our best basketball for the end of the year. That's what you want to do," Meyer said. "At the beginning of the season I was looking for 18 to 20 wins. Then when we were 4-5, I was just hoping to win another game."
Meyer does see one possible problem with joining the ranks of the ranked before playing Miami, Fla., and Notre Dame this week to end the regular season.
"I just hope that our players don't read this in the papers and forget we have two games left."