The last time Wake Forest was No. 1, its stay at the top lasted two weeks. If the Demon Deacons want to hold the nation’s highest ranking for longer, they first need to get by an opponent that has proved troublesome over the last couple of years.
Top-ranked for the second time in school history and the last remaining unbeaten team in Division I, Wake Forest (16-0, 3-0) hosts Virginia Tech (12-5, 2-1) in an ACC matchup Wednesday.
The Hokies have taken four of the last five meetings with the Demon Deacons, including an 80-58 rout last season in Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech enters this game with three straight wins and a 7-1 mark in its last eight games.
However, the Hokies will face a Wake Forest team that has reached No. 1 by producing the best start in school history and passing a few tests already this season.
Since Jan. 3, the Demon Deacons have ended BYU’s national-record home win streak, knocked off third-ranked North Carolina, thumped Boston College by 20 points on the road and ended No. 10 Clemson’s undefeated run with a 78-68 road victory Saturday.
The win over the Tigers combined with Pittsburgh’s loss at Louisville on the same day pushed Wake Forest to No. 1 for the first time since Chris Paul helped the Demon Deacons occupy the top spot from Nov. 22-29, 2004.
“We know how hard we had to work to get here (and) we know how hard it is to stay,” guard Ishmael Smith said. “Hopefully, we can hold No. 1 longer than they did, and hopefully we can make it to the Final Four and write our own history in the books.”
Wake Forest is one of the nation’s top offensive squads (85.1 points per game), the best shooting team in the ACC (51.1 percent) and the hardest to shoot against in the conference (36.2 percent).
In Saturday’s game, they held the Tigers to 33.8 percent shooting and 21.7 percent from 3-point range. Jeff Teague led Wake with 24 points, continuing his stellar play of late.
The sophomore guard, whose 21.4 points per game ranks second in the ACC behind North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, has averaged 29.3 points and shot 55.2 percent in the last four games. Teague also scored a team-leading 25 in the March 4 loss to the Hokies.
Another sophomore who also wears No. 0 - Jeff Allen - had a career-high 30 points to lead Virginia Tech to its latest victory, 79-71 over visiting Boston College on Saturday.
“Jeff was magnificent,” Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said on the school’s official Web site. “We did a great job of getting him the ball, and he did a great job of attacking.”
Virginia Tech lost to the only ranked opponent it faced this season, 69-44 at No. 5 Duke in its Jan. 4 conference opener. The Hokies have dropped eight straight to Top 25 teams, including a loss to Southern Illinois in the 2007 NCAA tournament’s second round.
Virginia Tech is 2-6 all-time against No. 1 teams and 1-2 since joining the ACC in 2004-05 - beating North Carolina 94-88 on Jan. 13, 2007, and losing twice on last-second shots.
The Demon Deacons’ only win in the last five meetings came on Smith’s buzzer-beater in a 77-75 home victory on Dec. 23, 2007.