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Poll Fever: St. John’s Finally Cracks AP Top 25

Dwight Hardy

Dwight Hardy #12 of the St. John’s Red Storm fakes in front of Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden on January 30, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – It’s poll fever at MSG.

St. John’s is back in the Top 25 of The Associated Press’ college basketball poll for the first time in over a decade.

In the only change near the bottom of the rankings, St. John’s (17-9), which beat a top 10 team for the fourth time this season with a win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, moved in at No. 23.

The Red Storm were last ranked in November 2000.

RELATED: St. John’s Storms To No. 25 In Coaches Poll

St. John’s replaced Utah State, which dropped out despite winning two games last week.

Steve Lavin left the broadcast booth in April to take over the St. John’s program and he inherited a team with 10 seniors, all of whom had never been in the NCAA tournament or the Top 25.

After the Pittsburgh win, Justin Burrell, one of the seniors, was confident the Red Storm would move into the poll.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s been a long four years without that number. We deserve to see that number.”

Lavin was happy for his veteran team.

“I think it’s a benchmark of achievement for the senior class and naturally it will be helpful in recruiting with the national exposure,” the former UCLA coach said. “It is empirical evidence that their hard work is paying off.”

Lavin said you try not to have “emotional peaks and valleys and you are always concerned and mindful of complacency. But with this group, with an outstanding work ethic, focus and resolve to finish their careers on a high note.”

The Red Storm’s strength of schedule is another sign of what this team has been able to achieve with five wins over ranked teams, four in the Big East and another over Duke.

We are building our resume, our body of work, or as they say, an argument to the selection committee,” Lavin told WFAN’s Evan Roberts on February 11. “Here’s what we have going for us, we have the number one or number two strength of schedule in the country.”

St. John’s gives the Big East eight ranked teams, four more than Big 12 and five more than the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference.

St. John’s also beat Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke and Connecticut this season, all big wins in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee.

The Red Storm are looking for their first bid since 2002.

Are the Johnnies a lock to make the tourney? Sound off in the comments below…

AP Rankings
Rank School Votes Prev Rank
1 Duke 25-2 1531 (35) 5
2 Ohio State 25-2 1519 (10) 2
3 Kansas 26-2 1457 (5) 1
4 Pittsburgh 24-3 1452 (12) 4
5 Texas 23-4 1395 (1) 3
6 San Diego State 27-1 1327 6
7 Brigham Young 25-2 1261 (2) 7
8 Purdue 22-5 1182 11
9 Notre Dame 21-5 1036 8
10 Arizona 23-4 942 12
11 Georgetown 21-6 929 9
12 Wisconsin 20-6 921 10
13 Florida 21-5 841 14
14 Connecticut 20-6 768 13
15 Villanova 21-7 697 15
16 Louisville 20-7 593 16
17 Syracuse 23-6 527 17
18 Vanderbilt 20-6 499 18
19 North Carolina 20-6 495 19
20 Missouri 21-6 378 20
21 Texas A&M 21-5 342 21
22 Kentucky 19-7 301 22
23 St. John’s 17-9 214 NR
24 Temple 21-5 199 23
25 Xavier 20-6 103 24
View Complete Poll

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

pixy Poll Fever: St. Johns Finally Cracks AP Top 25