Poll puts extra oomph into Tigers-Vols showdown Saturday
For one week at least, there's Nos. 1 and 2 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, and then there's everyone else.
It's not a stretch to make that argument when No. 1 is 25-0 Memphis and the week's new No. 2 is 23-2 Tennessee -- and the fact the two square off Saturday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) on the Tigers' FedExForum home court.
The top five teams in the ESPN/USA Today poll:
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Memphis and Tennessee, their campuses separated by 383 miles, will be the first 1-vs.-2 matchup in the coaches' poll since last Feb. 25, when No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Wisconsin 49-48 in Columbus.
The two also are 1-2 in The Associated Press Top 25, also released Monday.
The Tigers, the only undefeated team in Division I men's college basketball and No. 1 for a fifth straight week, again received all 31 first-place votes in the poll despite Saturday's scare at UAB, a 79-78 down-to-the-wire victory thanks to Chris Douglas-Roberts' three-point play with 6.5 seconds left.
The Vols, who have the Southeastern Conference's best mark at 10-1, beat Arkansas and Georgia last week to make the jump from No. 4 in the poll.
In the run-up to Saturday's showdown, both have games on Wednesday; Memphis visits 15-9 Tulane while Tennessee plays host to Auburn, loser of five of its last six.
North Carolina (24-2) made the step up from fifth to third this week, while No. 4 Duke (22-2) and No. 5 Kansas (24-2) fell back two spots after losses to Wake Forest and Texas, respectively.
UCLA (22-3) held put at No. 6, while the Longhorns (21-4) made a four-spot jump to seventh, Butler (24-2) shifted from 10th to eighth, Stanford (21-4) fell from seventh to ninth and Wisconsin (21-4) re-emerged in the first 10 at No. 10.
Stanford trails UCLA by a half-game for the Pac-10 lead.
The second 10 looked like: Big East co-leader Georgetown (20-4), Xavier (21-4), Connecticut (20-5 and winner of nine in a row), Indiana (21-4), Big Ten leader Purdue (21-5, 12-1), Vanderbilt (22-4), Michigan State (20-5), Drake (23-2), Washington State (20-5) and Saint Mary's (22-3). The Hoyas (eighth last week) and Michigan State (ninth) fell out of the top 10.
Notre Dame (19-5), Texas A&M (20-5), poll newcomer Louisville (20-6), Marquette (18-6) and Kansas State (18-6) round out the Top 25. Pittsburgh, 24th last week, fell from the rankings.