Hoops: Horns Up In The Polls, But Road Test Awaits

With its impressive win last Tuesday over then-top five Wake Forest (followed by a Saturday squeaker over Nebraska), Texas climbed two spots in both major polls released Monday, to No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and to No. 16 in the Associated Press poll. The Demon Deacons, after dropping consecutive contests to the Horns and now-No.1 Duke, fell to No. 7/10.

After the top-ranked 14-1 Blue Devils, both polls peg 14-0 Stanford at No. 2 followed by 15-0 mid-major Saint Joseph's at No. 3 and formerly top ranked 14-2 Connecticut at No. 4. Cincinnati (13-0), Louisville (13-1), Wake Forest (11-2), Kentucky (11-2), Pittsburgh (18-0) and Kansas round out the coaches' poll top 10, while Louisville, Cincinnati, North Carolina (11-3), Pittsburgh, Kentucky and Wake Forest occupy the Nos. 5-10 spots in the AP poll.

The Jayhawks (11-2, 3-0) check in at No. 12 with the writers. Texas Tech (14-2, 2-0) continued its ratings climb, moving up several spots in both polls to No. 18, while Oklahoma (10-3, 0-2) continued its slide, dropping to No. 21/20 after losses to Okie State (12-2, 2-1) and Mizzou last week. The Sooners will try to stop their three-game skid Monday night in Lubbock vs. the Red Raiders, who will look to extend their 10-game win streak in an ESPN Big Monday bash. [UPDATE: Tech spanked OU 67-47 Monday evening.] The Cowboys snuck into the rankings at No. 25/24 with their Bedlam blowout of OU and one-point survival over K-State, both in Stillwater.

ESPN.com's weekly Bracketology has Texas projected as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tourney, up from last week's No. 5 projection. Other Big 12 teams and their projections: Kansas (up a spot to a No. 3); Texas Tech (steady at a No. 5); Oklahoma (down to a bubble-ish No. 10); and Oklahoma State (in at a No. 9 after being out of the projections last week).

Although the Horns inched up in the rankings and the projected seedings, UT's biggest leap from last week came in the simulated RPI rankings at CollegeRPI.com. Texas (11-2, 2-0) jumped from way down at a bubble-like No. 55 a week ago to a solid No. 25 heading into its Big 12 showdown Tuesday evening vs. preseason Big 12 favorite Missouri (7-6, 2-1) in Columbia. The struggling but dangerous Tigers, after losing six of nine, are coming off a potentially season-saving 79-75 OT win over Oklahoma in Norman last Saturday. Among league teams, Kansas at No. 8 has the highest simulated RPI, followed closely by Tech (No. 12), and Texas. Okie State at No. 33 is just a few spots back from UT.

The Horns are embarking on a three-games-in-seven-days stretch with league contenders. Following Tuesday's trip to Missouri, Texas gets the Cowboyss in Austin this Saturday and then two days later travels to Lubbock for a Big Monday meeting with Bob Knight's bunch.

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