Pitt sticks at No. 1; Wake up to 3rd

Updated: January 19, 2009, 1:03 PM ET
ESPN.com

Pittsburgh won for the first time as the No. 1 team in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, while undefeated Wake Forest's first win over North Carolina in four years pushed the Demon Deacons to No. 3 in the Top 25 rankings released Monday.

Pitt (15-0) reigned supreme for the second straight week by beating St. John's for its 12th straight victory at home. The Panthers collected 29 of 31 first-place votes to lead No. 2 Duke in poll points, 773-729.

Wake reeled in two first-place votes after beating then-No. 3 North Carolina 92-89 on Sunday and, at 14-0, is off to its best start since the 1980-81 season.

The Panthers received all but two of the first-place votes from the 72-member national media panel on Monday. The others went to the Demon Deacons, who moved up two places after handing the Tar Heels their second straight conference loss. The Tar Heels lost for the second straight week and fell to sixth in the poll. The first defeat, to Boston College, knocked UNC out of its season-long hold on the top ranking; the second left it 0-2 in the ACC, the Heels' worst start in conference play since losing their first three ACC games in the 1996-97 season.

Wake is ranked second in this week's Associated Press media poll; voters gave the Deacons two first-place votes as well.

Connecticut (14-1) and Oklahoma (15-1) took a step up in the new poll. The Sooners play host to No. 11 Texas in a Monday night Big 12 game (ESPN, 9 ET).

Missing from the rankings was representation from the Southeastern Conference. Since ESPN's association with the poll began with the 1997-98 season, the SEC has never not had a team in the Top 25. In fact, no "BCS" conference -- ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC -- has had zero teams ranked in a given poll since '97-98.

Tennessee, ranked 25th last week, dropped out of the poll after an overtime home loss to Gonzaga. Arkansas, which defeated two top-10 opponents (Oklahoma, Texas) over the past two weeks, was expected to ascend into the rankings, but the Razorbacks lost by 14 Saturday at home to Mississippi State.

After the Tar Heels, UCLA (13-2), Syracuse (16-1), Clemson (16-0) and Michigan State made the top-10 cut. Clemson is the other of the three remaining unbeaten teams in Division I. Michigan State rejoined the top 10 after starting seventh in the preseason poll, and the eight-ranked Orange eased into their highest poll ranking this season.

The Longhorns (12-3) fell from seventh to 11th courtesy of their loss to the Razorbacks at the start of last week. The rest of the top 20 are Georgetown (11-3), Notre Dame (12-3), Marquette (15-2), Arizona State (14-2), Xavier (13-2), Minnesota (15-1), Butler (14-1), Purdue (12-4) and Louisville (11-3). Purdue fell five spots.

Baylor (13-2) and Villanova (13-3) were 21st and 22nd, and three newcomers this week completed the Top 25: California (15-2), Michigan (13-3) and Saint Mary's (15-1). Those three supplanted West Virginia, Boston College and Tennessee.

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