TOP 25 THIS WEEK: No. 8 Texas Tech gets 2 top-10 opponents
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard figures his Red Raiders haven’t accomplished all that much yet, even with the eighth-ranked Red Raiders holding the program’s highest ranking in two decades.
His team will get two chances to accomplish a lot more this week.
A week after upsetting Kansas on the road, Texas Tech has a pair of big matchups to headline the week ahead for AP Top 25 teams. First the Red Raiders visit No. 9 Oklahoma on Tuesday night, then they host No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday.
“We’re the same program that’s only been to one NCAA Tournament in the past decade,” Beard said before his team’s weekend win against Kansas State, adding: “We’ve got a lot of guys who understand where we came from and where we’re trying to get.”
Texas Tech (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) vaulted 10 spots in Monday’s poll, earning its highest ranking since being a program-best No. 7 in March 1996.
Texas Tech ranks third nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency (87.6 points per 100 possessions) through Sunday’s games while leading the Big 12 by holding opponents to 37 percent shooting.
“To me, this race doesn’t even start until February,” Beard said of the Big 12. “We’re all just kind of jockeying for position right now. We’re pleased we’ve gotten a couple of wins on the board, but we understand it’s a long, long season and we really haven’t done anything yet.”
TOUGH BIG 12: Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young have their own pair of games against ranked Big 12 opponents. The Sooners (12-2, 2-1) follow the Texas Tech game by hosting No. 16 TCU on Saturday.
AT THE TOP: Villanova needed just a week to reclaim its lost No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. The Wildcats returned to the top after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke .
The Wildcats got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where they spent three weeks in December. Villanova (14-1, 2-1 Big East) hosts No. 10 Xavier on Wednesday night.
MOUNTAINEERS ROLLING: Second-ranked West Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) earned 12 first-place votes and secured the program’s highest ranking since December 1959 during Jerry West’s senior season. Coming off a win against Oklahoma , the Mountaineers host Baylor on Tuesday before visiting the Red Raiders on Saturday.
VIRGINIA’S CLIMB: Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3 and earned a first-place vote after an upset-filled week that saw six top-10 teams lose.
Zach Osterman of The Indianapolis Star was the voter with the Cavaliers topping his ballot after their weekend win against reigning national champion North Carolina . He called it “one of the more difficult ballots I’ve thrown together” with so much upheaval at the top, though he pointed to Virginia’s resume featuring a lone loss to West Virginia.
“I think the way they play basketball produces results,” Osterman said of the Cavaliers. “I’ve been high on them for a while. Some other people losing around them this week meant in my eyes they moved up.”
Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces Syracuse on Tuesday then hosts North Carolina State — which has upset wins against Arizona and Duke when both were ranked No. 2 this season — on Sunday.
OTHER RANKED MATCHUPS: Saturday brings two other matchups of ranked teams: Xavier against No. 25 Creighton in the Big East and No. 18 Miami against No. 19 Clemson in the ACC.
WATCH LIST: Notre Dame is in flux with star Bonzie Colson sidelined with an injury , but the Fighting Irish lead all unranked teams in voting and get a Saturday home game against UNC to help their odds of getting back in the poll this week.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M — which went from No. 11 last week to unranked after two Southeastern Conference losses — will have get two chances to make it a short absence from the poll. The Aggies visit No. 21 Kentucky on Tuesday, then travel to No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap