Arizona moved up one spot to No. 1 in The Associated Press poll on Monday, the Wildcats' first top ranking since 2003.
Arizona (9-0) was a runaway choice at No. 1, receiving 63 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel to earn the school's first No. 1 ranking without Lute Olson as coach.
Current coach Sean Miller views the ranking as validation for the direction the program has taken in his five years in the desert.
"There's tremendous satisfaction, no question," Miller said. "Embracing the fact that we're No. 1 is something I'm doing, our staff is doing and really our team is doing. It's an honor a lot of teams would love to have. It's something where no matter what happens the rest of the season, at some point we were ranked No. 1 in the country."
This is the sixth season in which the Wildcats have reached No. 1. The first time was a six-week stint in 1987-88, and the Wildcats went on to reach the Final Four for the first time. Their longest run at the top was 13 weeks in 2002-03, a season in which the Wildcats were never ranked lower than fourth and finished No. 2 in the final poll with a 28-4 record.
Michigan State, which had been No. 1 for three weeks, dropped to fifth after losing 79-65 at home to North Carolina. The other two times Michigan State has reached No. 1 -- in 1978-79 and 2000-01 -- it was there for two weeks.
The Tar Heels continued their up-and-down early season. They were 12th in the preseason poll and fell to No. 24 after losing to Belmont at home. A neutral-court win over then-No. 3 Louisville moved them up to No. 16, but a loss to UAB had them out of the poll.
Kentucky and Kansas had the largest drops this week. The Wildcats fell eight spots to No. 11 after losing to No. 20 Baylor at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Baylor moved up to No. 14 with the win. The Jayhawks fell seven spots to No. 13 after losing at Colorado on a last-second 3-pointer.
No. 21 Colorado and No. 24 Missouri are in the Top 25 for the first time this season. Both were ranked last season -- Colorado for two weeks and the Tigers for all but six weeks.
Michigan, which was No. 7 in the preseason poll, fell out from 22nd with its third defeat of the season. The Wolverines lost 79-69 at Duke. Their other losses were 77-70 to Iowa State and 63-61 to Charlotte.