For the first time since the late-1990s, Amherst is home to a Div-I Top-25 basketball team.
UMass, which hasn’t sniffed the NCAA tournament since 1998, came in at No. 24 in this week’s Associated Press poll after knocking off Clemson in the championship game of the Charleston Classic on Sunday.
The 62-56 victory ran the Minutemen’s record to 6-0 on the season and earned the team its first Top-25 ranking in 15 years.
The program’s resurgence has been especially fulfilling for head coach Derek Kellogg, who played for UMass during the John Calipari era but has seen his alma mater flounder in mediocrity ever since.
“It’s tiresome looking at the wall and not seeing any new [trophies] other than the ones from when I played,” Kellogg told MassLive.com after Sunday’s win. “I mean, I’m tired of those things. I want to throw them in the garbage and start our trophies as a coach and team. That feels great.”
Five of the Minutemen’s six wins this season have come over teams from power conferences, including an 81-65 victory over then-No. 19 New Mexico last Friday. No team remaining on their schedule is currently ranked in the Top 25.