The Vols received 40 of 64 first-place votes from a media panel in the poll released Monday, remaining ahead of Duke for fourth straight week. The No. 2 Blue Devils had 24 first-place votes.
Tennessee (22-1, 10-0 SEC) moved to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll after Duke (21-2, 9-1 ACC) lost to Syracuse on Jan. 14.
Committee chair Bernard Muir said the decision for the top overall seed was close, but Blue Devils edged the Vols based on strength of schedule.
Tennessee was No. 1 in the South Region.
“I want these guys to enjoy what they’re doing and I’m probably not the easiest guy to let that happen because I’m always thinking of ways we can get better, and I want to do it right now,” Vols coach Rick Barnes said. “I appreciate how hard they’re competed and the fact that they want to get better.”
Duke won both of its games last week, rolling over Boston College by 25 before winning a rematch with Virginia 81-71 on Saturday. The Blue Devils needed overtime to beat the Cavaliers the first meeting and shot them out of the gym in the second, making 13 of 21 from the 3-point arc.
“We were just in our zone and it’s great to see when our team is like that,” said Duke’s RJ Barrett, who had 26 points and was 6-for-10 on 3s.
Virginia dropped one spot after losing to the Blue Devils.
BIG 12 RACE
Kansas State moved back into the poll this week at No. 18.
Gonzaga moved up a spot in the AP poll this week, was selected as the top overall seed in the West by the NCAA’s selection committee and crushed WCC rival Saint Mary’s 94-46 on Saturday.
But it wasn’t all good news for the Zags last week.
Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie did not play against the Gaels and is out indefinitely after suffering a torn ligament in his right foot against San Francisco on Thursday. He missed the first two months of the season due to a foot injury and has played just nine games.
No. 17 Florida State had the biggest jump in this week’s poll, climbing five spots after beating Syracuse and Louisville, which remained at No. 16 despite the loss.
A week after moving into the poll at No. 25, Cincinnati dropped out beating Memphis and losing to Houston last week.