Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 | 10:26 a.m.
- Birch surprises himself with stellar offensive performance in UNLV’s victory
- Rebels must focus on the task at hand before their holiday break
- UNLV senior on watch list for award given to nation’s top point guard
- Bennett’s performance against Northern Iowa one for the highlight reel
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
When the UNLV basketball team takes on host North Carolina Saturday in its most significant regular season game of the season, the Rebels — and not the perennial power Tar Heels — will be nationally ranked.
UNLV (11-1), which last week beat Northern Iowa and Canisius, moved up one spot to No. 20 in the Associated Press rankings released today. North Carolina (9-3) was ranked No. 23 last week, but fell out of the poll after losing by 18 points at Texas.
Last season, North Carolina was ranked No. 1 when it was upset by non-ranked UNLV at the Orleans Arena in one of the program's most significant wins since its Final Four season in 1991.
New Mexico of UNLV’s Mountain West Conference also slipped out of the top 25, falling from No. 16 after losing at home Saturday to South Dakota State, 70-65. New Mexico received 66 votes, which put them one spot out of the top 25 and 86 points behind No. 25 Kansas State.
San Diego State of the Mountain West moved up one spot to No. 17, and Wyoming received 28 votes — 12 more than North Carolina.
Undefeated Duke received 63 of 65 first-place votes, while Michigan received two first-place votes and is second. Arizona, Louisville and Indiana round out the top 5.
Pittsburgh at No. 24 and Kansas State are new to the rankings.