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Indiana coach Tom Crean used an analogy to the state's second favorite sport after the Hoosiers remained No. 1 in The Associated Press' Top 25 for a second straight week.
It had been over a month since a team managed to stay on top, and Indiana broke that trend despite losing a game last week, leading Crean to bring up auto racing.
"I had a good friend tell me that in-season rankings are the barometer of representing what lane you're in and the direction and how far you are moving towards your goals," Crean said Monday. "We want to stay in the left lane and keep working on our team and pace because we know there are quite a few others in the left lane as well."
The Hoosiers (21-3) lost to Illinois on a last-second basket Thursday but rebounded with a win at then-No.10 Ohio State on Sunday. In a week when four of the top five teams and six of the top 10 lost, it was enough to keep the No. 1 ranking.
"They were really disappointed on Thursday night. And instead of carrying that disappointment into a "woe is me' mentality, they really did trigger how to get better. And I think it was in the sense of closing games," Crean said.
"I think there was a different level, a sense of urgency because of the way we didn't finish it off, combined with the fact that we knew we were playing a team that it is outstanding."
This ends a stretch of five consecutive weeks with a new No. 1, two weeks short of the longest such stretch in 1993-94. Duke started the run followed by Louisville, Duke again, Michigan and Indiana.
The Hoosiers received 26 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel Monday, while Duke, the only member of the top five not to lose last week, moved up two spots to second after getting 20 first-place votes.
- Associated Press