February 09, 2015

After coaching for 15 years, South Florida coach Jose Fernandez was thrilled to hear that his team was finally ranked.

The Bulls made their first appearance in The Associated Press poll Monday, entering at No. 25.

''Most people don't understand how hard it is to get that national recognition,'' Fernandez said. ''We've definitely done some very good things here at USF.''

Fernandez and his team were flying when the poll was released, but were excited when they landed in Dallas and heard the good news.

''It's definitely good, but we've got to stay grounded,'' he said. ''It's not like we didn't already have an `X' on our back in our league. This will be an added motivator for everyone we play down the road.''

The Bulls (19-4) will play their first game as a ranked team Tuesday at SMU.

While South Florida entered the poll for the first time, there wasn't much change up top. South Carolina was No. 1 for the 12th straight week. The Gamecocks (22-0) visit No. 2 UConn on Monday night.

The Huskies were followed by Baylor, Notre Dame and Maryland. Tennessee, Florida State, Oregon State, Louisville and Kentucky rounded out the first 10.

Some notes from this week's poll:

UNBEATENS: Along with South Carolina, Princeton (21-0) remained the only other undefeated team. The Tigers swept Cornell and Columbia this week, winning by an average of 33 points. Princeton plays at Brown on Friday and visits Yale on Saturday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Ivy League. UC Santa Barbara is the only winless team.

TIMBER: Stanford fell to 19th, the Cardinal's worst ranking since being left out of the final poll of the 2000-01 season. They lost back-to-back conference games for the first time since getting swept on a Los Angeles trip in January 2008 and now have three league losses for the first time since 2005-06.

UPCOMING MATCHUPS: Besides the showdown between the top teams Monday night, there are a bunch of other good games this week. Maryland hosts No. 18 Rutgers on Tuesday in a Big Ten matchup. The Terrapins haven't lost a game in their new conference yet. Baylor puts its 21-game winning streak on the line when Oklahoma visits Wednesday. Thursday has a few key conference matchups with Florida State visiting No. 17 North Carolina. Kentucky hosts 13th-ranked Mississippi State. The Wildcats then visit Tennessee on Sunday. First place in the Pac-12 will be on the line Friday night when Arizona State visits Oregon State. The Beavers have only one conference loss, while the Sun Devils have two.


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