Dino Gaudio knew his Wake Forest team would probably move to No. 1 after becoming Division I’s only unbeaten team.
“I told the team when we got off the bus on Saturday, ’If you guys are happy being No. 1 on Jan. 19, then you’re not the team I think you are,”’ Gaudio said Monday. “All we worry about is getting better. There is tremendous room for improvement with these lads.”
Not as far as national ranking goes.
The Demon Deacons (16-0) beat Clemson, 78-68, on Saturday, then top-ranked Pittsburgh lost, 69-63, at Louisville hours later to set up their jump from No. 2.
Wake Forest received all but four first-place votes from the 72-member national media panel. The Demon Deacons are No. 1 for the first time since a two-week run in November 2004, when they had Chris Paul at point guard.
“It was a very tough week with three games in seven days to start league play. It was incredibly challenging,” Gaudio said, referring to victories over North Carolina, Boston College and Clemson, the last two on the road. “Our defense carried us through the three games. The kids are buying into it and if we continue to do that, we’ll be in games to the end with a chance to win.”
Duke (16-1), which beat Georgia Tech and Georgetown last week, received the other four first-place votes and moved up one place to second. Connecticut (16-1), which beat St. John’s and Seton Hall last week, moved from fourth to third, followed by Pittsburgh.
The Panthers (16-1) had moved to No. 1 for the first time two weeks ago, but they fell to fourth following the loss to Louisville.
North Carolina stayed fifth and was followed by Oklahoma, Michigan State, Syracuse, Louisville and Clemson.
Four teams moved into the rankings this week. Three of them — Memphis, Gonzaga and Florida — were in the Top 25 at some point this season and Illinois is ranked for the first time since the final poll of 2005-06.
Only two Big 12 Conference teams are in the rankings this week: No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 14 Texas. Baylor dropped out of the rankings after being ranked No. 21 last week.