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Michigan State again No. 1, with conference play coming up

This is the week conference play begins so it’s so long to mismatches and guarantee games. Now it’s a neighborhood thing, and that means plenty of games that can affect the Top 25.

Five games this week pit two ranked teams from the same conference, and No. 6 Xavier and No. 9 Butler get Big East play off to a grueling start.

On Thursday, Xavier is at No. 16 Villanova and Butler hosts No. 12 Providence. Two days later the Musketeers host the Bulldogs in a matchup that will settle who is the early leader in the conference.

The other two double-ranked games are Saturday in the Big 12: No. 23 Baylor at No. 2 Kansas and No. 11 Iowa State at No. 3 Oklahoma.

IN AND OUT: UCLA is the lone newcomer to the poll this week. The 25th-ranked Bruins are in the Top 25 for the second time this season. They moved in at No. 22 two weeks ago after beating then-No. 1 Kentucky and then-No. 20 Gonzaga. UCLA was gone after one week following a loss to No. 7 North Carolina.

The Bruins (9-4) start Pac-12 play at Washington on Friday and Washington State on Sunday.

George Washington (10-2) fell out from No, 20 following its 82-61 loss to DePaul. The Colonials had won four straight since their other loss, to No. 22 Cincinnati. Their biggest win was an early victory over No. 5 Virginia.

GOOD WINS: There are 13 teams that have beaten two ranked teams so far this season and four of them are not in the Top 25.

Alabama, Northern Iowa, Syracuse and UNLV all have two wins over ranked teams, but except for Syracuse none has been ranked at all this season.

SPARTY ON TOP: This is Michigan State’s fourth consecutive week at No. 1 and the Spartans’ 11th week all-time, tying them with Houston at 24th on the list of top-ranked schools.

Next up for the Spartans would be Arkansas, Georgetown and Virginia, which all have spent a total of 12 weeks at No. 1.

STILL PERFECT: There are five teams that enter conference play without a loss and all of them are in the Top 25. No. 1 Michigan State, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 6 Xavier, No. 17 SMU and No. 24 South Carolina entered the week with a `0′ on the right-hand side of the record.

On the other side of the ledger, only Mississippi Valley State has yet to win. The Delta Devils are at Hawaii on Tuesday, the final game of their season-opening 14-game road trip. They will play their first home game on Jan. 4, hosting Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

CONFERENCE CALL: The Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference remained tied at the top with five teams each in the Top 25. The Big East is third with four followed by the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference with three each. The American Athletic Conference has the other two teams.

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