WakeForest deserves to be the number 1 team in the country, whether they want it or not.
Currently ranked #6 and #4 in the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls respectively, the Demon Deacons are looking to get back to the top spot in college basketball, a position they held just one week ago.
WakeForest (17-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) knocked off another ACC powerhouse Wednesday night with a 70-68 win over #1 Duke.A fitting end to the most impressive January in college basketball (except for maybe Louisville), Wake has already won at BYU, against UNC, at BostonCollege, and at Clemson, before losing to Virginia Tech a week ago.
And not only are they beating good teams, they are doing it in the most difficult of circumstances.
As if Brigham Young isn’t underrated enough as it is, you also have to consider that the Deacons 94-87 win on January 3 came in front of a raucous crowd of 23,000 and ended the Cougars 53 game home winning streak, then longest in the nation.Wake then beat arguably the most talented team in the nation, defeating North Carolina by three at home.This win, the Deacons’ ACC opener, also came against a driven Tarheels squad, looking to rebound from their surprise loss to BostonCollege just a week prior.
Three days later, Wake went to Chestnut Hill, MA to play in an arena they lost by 39 points in a year ago, against a BostonCollege team they had never beaten in their seven-game history.Dubbed a "trap game" by many, WakeForest did not let their success get to them, earning an easy 83-63 victory against the Eagles.And how were the Deacons rewarded for three big wins in a row?A trip to the always-rowdy Littlejohn Coliseum to take on the then undefeated Clemson Tigers.In a battle of unbeatens, WakeForest held off a late Clemson run to earn the 78-68 win.
With arguably Wake’s worst offensive and worst defensive games coming at the same time, the Deacon’s had no answer for the consistent shooting of Virginia Tech, who ended Wake’s undefeated season and short-lived #1 ranking.
But Wake hasn’t been the only team who had trouble holding on to college basketball’s top spot.After UNC was ranked #1 from the preseason all the way to week seven, the title has been plagued, changing hands three times in 2009 already, and will likely change again next Monday with #1 Duke losing tonight.
So the question presents itself, who should be the new #1?
With #3 Pittsburgh losing to Villanova in the same night as Wake’s win over the Blue Devils, the candidates for next week’s #1 are Connecticut and WakeForest (and maybe Oklahoma).
And while Wake’s good wins look even better the more you look at them, Connecticut’s good wins – Miami (FL), Wisconsin, Gonzaga, West Virginia, and Notre Dame – keep looking worse.Those five teams are a combined 8-12 in their last 4 games each, and that includes a 4-0 Gonzaga squad who has been beating up on overmatched West Coast Conference opponents.
And if their good wins are looking bad, their only loss is looking really bad.The Huskies sole blemish, an 11-point loss to then #8 Georgetown, keeps looking worse and worse as Georgetown has dropped off the map, losing six of their last eight including losses to Seton Hall and Cincinatti.
Based on the voting patterns of the voters this week, Connecticut, in all likelihood, will be the nation’s #1 team come Monday.And whether Wake deserves it or not, they understand that #1 isn’t everything.When asked if the Deacons deserve to be #1 again, "We’re not worried about that, we’re just happy to get the win, we’re not worried about anything else" said PG Jeff Teague.