Wake overtakes Duke as coaches' No. 1

Updated: January 19, 2009, 10:55 PM ET
ESPN.com

This'll wake up the ACC, particularly the neighbors on Tobacco Road -- the Demon Deacons are No. 1.

After spending last week hovering at No. 3, unbeaten Wake Forest skipped past No. 2 Duke and into the top spot in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.

The rankings, released Monday, have Wake (16-0) pulling in 25 of the 31 first-place votes at stake, the other six going to the 16-1 Blue Devils. The impetus behind Wake's rise: a win over fellow unbeaten Clemson on the road. Wake is also No. 1 in The Associated Press media poll by a crushing margin, getting 68 first-place votes to No. 2 Duke's four.

If Wake beats Virginia Tech on Wednesday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET), it'll likely hold on to the No. 1 ranking entering its next game -- at home against Duke on Jan. 28 (ESPN, 7 ET).

Duke, meanwhile, must first attend to home games against North Carolina State on Tuesday and Maryland on Saturday before anyone can entertain thoughts of a 1 versus 2 showdown in Winston-Salem.

It's the first time Wake has been ranked No. 1 since a two-week period early in the 2004-05 season. The Demon Deacons began this season ranked 24th, making them the lowest-ranked team to reach No. 1 during the season since ESPN's association with the poll began in the 1997-98 season.

The Demon Deacons replaced Pittsburgh (16-1) atop the poll after the Panthers, No. 1 the past two weeks, lost at Louisville 69-63 and fell to fourth. Connecticut (16-1) moved up a spot to third and 17-1 Oklahoma held its ground at No. 5.

Former No. 1 North Carolina (16-2) remained sixth for a second straight week as it tries to extricate itself from the middle of the ACC pack.

Michigan State (15-2, 5-0 Big Ten) made a three-spot jump to seventh, with Syracuse (17-2) and Clemson (16-1) holding at Nos. 8 and 9 and Marquette (16-2) making the biggest leap among top-10 teams by moving from 14th to 10th.

UCLA (14-3) was the only team to fall from the top 10, from seventh to 11th after an overtime loss to Arizona State that left the Bruins in a three-way tie for the Pac-10 lead.

Louisville, not surprisingly, was the biggest mover of the week after knocking off Pitt; the Cardinals (13-3) jumped eight spots to 12th. The rest of the second 10: Xavier (15-2), Georgetown (12-4), Texas (13-4), Arizona State (15-3), Butler (16-1), Purdue (14-4), Notre Dame (12-5) and Minnesota (16-2). The Fighting Irish lost six spots this week.

Villanova (14-3), Saint Mary's (17-1), Baylor (14-3) and this week's newcomers, Illinois and Memphis in a tie for 24th, completed the rankings. California and Michigan fell from the poll.

Wake Forest and Duke are the first conference foes to be ranked first and second since Ohio State and Wisconsin held the top two spots on Feb. 19, 2007, and the first ACC teams to do it since Duke and Maryland were ranked 1-2 for three weeks during the 2002-03 season.

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