Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tar Heels Are Stuck to No. 1 National Ranking - for Now, Anyway

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tar Heels Are Stuck to No. 1 National Ranking - for Now, Anyway

Article excerpt

North Carolina practically qualifies as a dynasty after three consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. That's the longest run in a season that already has produced three No. 1 teams. Perhaps the only certainty is there will be a lot of turnover at the top this season.

Arkansas, the defending national champion, was the preseason No. 1. Massachusetts moved into the top spot after a 104-80 victory over the Razorbacks in the Tip-Off Classic in Springfield, Mass. When Kansas defeated UMass 81-75, North Carolina made its way to the top and has stayed there without a loss.

Kansas received six first-place votes two weeks ago but none last week after losing at Indiana 80-61 on national television. North Carolina got 57 of the 65 first-place votes last week, but many believe that the Tar Heels do not have the depth to win the national title.

UCLA is 5-0 and ranked No. 2. If North Carolina (7-0) slips, the Bruins probably would move into the top spot if they continue winning. But third-ranked Arkansas (8-1) remains the team most think will be No. 1 at the end of the season. Don't be surprised if the Razorbacks move to the head of the class again soon.

"I think Arkansas is clearly a team that can stand more problems, injuries and things like that than anybody else," Kansas Coach Roy Williams said.

The Razorbacks, who play in the Rainbow Classic this week, still are learning about the burden of playing as defending champions. In a 12-point victory at Southern Methodist, Arkansas led by only four early in the second half.

"All year we're going to have games like this," senior point guard Corey Beck said. "Everybody we've played has played us very hard. The only way we can stop a team from doing that is to come out and put the hammer down."

Coach Nolan Richardson has been warning his players of the approach each opponent will take.

"They're playing the defending champions, and they're supposed to lose," Richardson said. "But somebody forgets to tell them, and they get all jacked up. We've got to learn to win from a new perspective. Last year, we won as underdogs. Now we have to learn to win as the national champions. …

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