RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Florida State is finally wrapping up a demanding stretch of six straight games against ranked teams.
Both the 10th-ranked Seminoles and No. 24 South Carolina have two games against ranked foes to headline the week for teams in the AP Top 25 . The Seminoles host No. 12 Louisville and No. 15 Notre Dame, while the Gamecocks meet No. 5 Kentucky and No. 19 Florida — combining to appear in four of the week’s five matchups between ranked teams.
The Seminoles (16-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won at Virginia, then beat Virginia Tech and Duke at home. They lost 96-83 Saturday at No. 9 North Carolina to snap a program-record 12-game winning streak, a game marked by FSU’s struggles at the foul line (12 of 26) and on the boards (outrebounded by 22).
“We learned an awful lot in that game that we’ve taken back,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Hopefully the loss to a team that played much better than us will point out some of the areas that we need to continue to get improvement on so that we can hopefully finish the season on a positive note.”
They face the Fighting Irish (16-2, 5-0) on Wednesday, then face the Cardinals (15-3, 3-2) on Saturday.
As for the Gamecocks (14-3, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), they host the Gators (14-3, 5-0) on Wednesday then visit the Wildcats (15-2, 5-0) on Saturday.
“I think the guys will be excited,” Gamecocks coach Frank Martin said. “But then again, you don’t play as hard as we play unless you’re excited for every game on the schedule. That’s what we’ve tried to train our guys to do.”
PAC-12 HEADLINER: The week’s other matchup involving two ranked teams comes out west, when No. 3 UCLA hosts No. 14 Arizona in the Pac-12.
The Bruins (18-1, 5-1) first host Arizona State on Thursday before facing the Wildcats (16-2, 5-0), who entered the week tied with No. 11 Oregon atop the league standings. Arizona visits Southern California on Thursday.
BACK ON TOP: Villanova is back on top , leaping over Kansas to take the No. 1 ranking.
The Wildcats (18-1, 6-1 Big East) fell to third following a Jan. 4 loss at Butler, but wins against Marquette and Xavier allowed Villanova to make a quick return.
“It’s just a number,” senior Kris Jenkins said after Monday’s 76-46 win against Seton Hall.
Villanova hosts Providence on Saturday.
STILL UNBEATEN: Fourth-ranked Gonzaga (17-0, 5-0 West Coast Conference) is the only unbeaten team left in Division I. The Bulldogs visit Santa Clara on Thursday then host Portland two days later.
REGROUPED?: Baylor (16-1, 4-1 Big 12) managed only a one-week stay in its first appearance at No. 1, losing at West Virginia and ending up at No. 6. The Bears won at Kansas State on Saturday and host Texas on Tuesday night.
CONFERENCE RANKS: The ACC leads all conferences with six ranked teams, though the ninth-ranked Tar Heels stand as the highest-ranked team while preseason No. 1 Duke slid 11 spots to No. 18 this week.
The Big 12 has three in the top 10 with No. 2 Kansas, No. 6 Baylor and tied-for-No. 7 West Virginia.
WATCH LIST: TCU was one of eight teams in a power-5 conference to lose at least 15 regular-season conference games last year, but first-year coach Jamie Dixon has provided quick cause for hope.
The top team among the “Others Receiving Votes” category, the Horned Frogs (14-3, 3-2 Big 12) visit Texas Tech on Wednesday looking for their first three-game winning streak in eight years.
After that, TCU gets to host No. 6 Baylor on Saturday with a shot at a an even bigger win — one year after going 2-16 in the Big 12.
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