by Bill DiFilippo / @bflip33
The last time Southern Methodist was ranked in the AP Top 25, Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States.
Now, the 19-5 Mustangs, who are widely regarded to be one of the best stories in all of college basketball, have returned. In today’s AP Poll, the Mustangs, led by Larry Brown, were ranked as the 23rd best team in America.
SMU (19-5) moved in off a 76-53 victory over then-No. 7 Cincinnati, a win that snapped the Bearcats’ 15-game winning streak. It was the Mustangs’ third win over a ranked team in a seven-game span since they moved back into a renovated Moody Coliseum five weeks ago.
Before the streak, SMU hadn’t beaten a ranked team since December 2003, and the last time the Mustangs beat more than one ranked team in a season was 1984-85, when Jon Koncak was the star player and Dave Bliss was coach. Incidentally, the ’84-85 team lost nine of its final 16 games and finished the season unranked, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The Mustangs, featuring Brown and one of the deepest teams in America, have won eight of their last nine games, including double-digit wins over two ranked squads: Memphis and Cincinnati. The team is third in the American Athletic Conference with an 8-3 record.