Jan. 12, 2009 Clemson, SC – Clemson and Wake Forest are both ranked in the top 10 of both polls entering Saturday’s game at Littlejohn Coliseum. The two teams will play at 3:30 PM and the sold out game will be televised by ABC. Clemson is ranked 10th by the Associated Press and ninth by the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, while Wake Forest is second by the AP and third by the Coaches poll.
Clemson improved from 11th in the USA Today poll and 12th in the AP poll last week. This week’s top 10 ranking is the best for the Clemson program since November 16, 1997 when Clemson was ranked fifth in the AP poll and seventh by USA Today.
Saturday’s game at Clemson will be just the fifth matchup of top 10 ranked teams in the 41-year history of Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum. The previous four meetings were all against ACC teams, including one meeting against Wake Forest, and all four took place during the 1996-97 season.
Clemson was ranked second in the AP poll and third in the Coaches; poll and Wake Forest was second by the Coaches and fourth by AP entering the January 23, 1997 game at Clemson. The Demon Deacons came away with a 65-62 victory.
On January 7, 1997 a fifth ranked Clemson team defeated a Duke team ranked ninth by USA Today Coaches and 10th by AP. The Tigers won that game in overtime 86-82 behind Greg Buckner. The Clemson vs. Wake Forest game followed 16 days later. On Feb. 8, 1997 a Clemson team ranked eighth by the coaches and 10th by AP defeated a Maryland team ranked seventh by AP and ninth by the Coaches, 80-68.
The final top 10 meeting took place on Feb. 26, 1997 when a North Carolina team ranked eighth by AP and ninth by the Coaches, defeated a Clemson team ranked 10th by USA Today Coaches and 12th by AP, 76-69.
Overall, this will be the ninth battle of top 10 teams in Clemson history, regardless of site. The first took place in Milwaukee, WI in December of 1976 when a Clemson team ranked 10th by the UPI Coaches lost to a Marquette team ranked fifth by the coaches and sixth by the AP, 67-49. Marquette went on to win the national championship behind head coach Al McGuire, who was coaching in his final year.
A 10th ranked North Carolina team defeated a 24-2 Clemson team ranked third in the nation at Chapel Hill in February of 1987 by a 96-80 score. The other two road top 10 meetings took place in 1996-97 at Wake Forest and at Duke.
So, Clemson has been involved in eight previous top 10 battles in its basketball history and six of the eight took place in 1996-97 when current Texas coach Rick Barnes was the Clemson coach.
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