Horns Hold Steady In Polls, Face No. 3/4 Wake

Despite a road win over Providence and a walk over Baylor last week, Texas (9-2) remained No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 18 in the Associated Press poll released Monday. UT's Tuesday night opponent, though, inched closer to the top of the rankings. Wake Forest (11-0) moved up a spot to No. 3 in the coaches' poll while holding on to the No. 4 spot in the AP poll.

UConn (13-1), which clobbered previously unbeaten Oklahoma 86-59 on Sunday, is an overwhelming No. 1 in both polls. The 10-1 Sooners slipped from the top 10 to No. 13 (coaches) and No. 11 (AP). Horn-killer Duke is No. 2 in both polls, followed in the coaches' poll by the Demon Deacons, Stanford, Kentucky and surprising 13-0 Saint Joseph's. Flip-flop the Cardinal and Wake Forest on that list and you've got the AP top six.

Kansas is 12th in the coaches' poll and 14th in the AP. The only other Big 12 team in the rankings is fast-rising, 13-2 Texas Tech, which checks in at No. 22 in both polls.

Meanwhile, CollegeRPI.com (which simulates the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index rankings) lists Texas Tech as the highest-rated Big 12 team at No. 8 overall, followed by Kansas at No. 13, Nebraska at No. 41, Texas and Oklahoma way down at Nos. 55 and 57, respectively, with Oklahoma State and Missouri at Nos. 69 and 72, respectively.

ESPN.com's weekly Bracketology feature pegs the Horns' as a fifth-seed if the NCAA Tourney were to start today, with Big 12-mate KU the highest-seeded Big 12 team at a (relatively) lowly four. Bob Knight's Red Raiders project as a five, while OU comes in at a six. Okie State (10-2) is picked as a just-left-out bubble team, while formerly top 10 but sinking Mizzou (6-5) doesn't even rate a mention.

But as Bracketology puts it, the battle between the Horns and the Deacons Tuesday is "a non-league encounter with serious seed ramifications." Wake Forest is currently projected to land one of the four available No. 1 seeds and is ranked No. 12 in the simulated RPI. A win could vault the Horns up all of the charts, but Rick Barnes knows his team is in for a toughie.

"It's a great challenge," the Texas head coach said of the game, scheduled for a 7 p.m. Tuesday evening tip on ESPN. "They've got a player in Eric Williams who I think up to this point will be the best low post player we've played against. He is a guy that's going to create a lot of problems for our post players and we're going to have to have the best defensive effort we've had from our post guys this year, with our perimeter players helping. They've got Chris Paul who's playing as well as any freshman in the country. They've got shooters. They've got the whole bag so it's going to be a great challenge for us."

Williams averages a team-leading 17.3 points per game, but the Deacons are a balanced bunch, with all five starters (6-0 guard Paul, 6-2 guard Justin Gray, 6-2 guard Taron Downey, 6-9 forward Jamaal Levy, 6-9 center Williams) averaging in doubles figures (and four more players at five-points-per-game or more). Levy paces Wake in rebounding with 8.5 per game, followed among regulars by Williams' 5.9. Deacons' coach Skip Prosser isn't afraid to use his bench: eleven players average over nine minutes a game.

Wake knocks down nearly 50-percent of its shots (48.9-percent) while holding opposing teams to just 39.7-percent from the field.


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