The Washington Times - January 18, 2009, 10:58PM

The storyline sure seems simple. A highly regarded recruiting class was completely tied together by the shocking death of the man who recruited them all. They stuck to their commitments, immediately vaulting their school into the preseason top 25 upon their arrival. Things got better and better, and eventually the team reached No. 1.

Except it was the class from before – the ones already signed when Skip Prosser died of a heart attack in July 2007 – who is carrying Wake Forest.

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If the season ended today, Jeff Teague would be the ACC’s player of the year. At least, you’d like to think the guy second in scoring, second in steals, fifth in assists and fifth in field goal percentage would take that honor. Forward James Johnson, after a promising freshman year, is even better the second time around.

Al-Farouq Aminu, one of the freshmen, is certainly imposing. But in terms of minutes played, he is the only new element in the top eight of the rotation of a team that went 17-13 last season.

And when tomorrow’s polls come out, the Demon Deacons will probably be No. 1. This much is certain: They’ve earned the nod here based on their last three weekends.

Winning at the cavernous Marriott Center, one of the nation’s toughest places to play, against Brigham Young. Defeating consensus preseason favorite North Carolina. Toppling previously unbeaten Clemson on its home floor.

That’s a nice resume – one worthy of pole position in the polls this week.

The full top 45 rundown:

1. Wake Forest (16-0)
2. Duke (16-1)
3. Pittsburgh (16-1)
4. Connecticut (16-1)
5. North Carolina (16-2)
6. Oklahoma (17-1)
7. Michigan State (15-2)
8. Syracuse (17-2)
9. Clemson (16-1)
10. Marquette (16-2)
11. Georgetown (12-4)
12. UCLA (14-3)
13. Butler (16-1)
14. Xavier (15-2)
15. Louisville (13-3)
16. Texas (13-4)
17. Arizona State (15-3)
18. Gonzaga (12-4)
19. Saint Mary’s (17-1)
20. Purdue (14-4)
21. Notre Dame (12-5)
22. Kentucky (14-4)
23. Baylor (14-3)
24. Illinois (15-3)
25. California (15-3)

26. Davidson (14-3)
27. West Virginia (13-4)
28. Ohio State (13-3)
29. Miami (13-4)
30. Minnesota (16-2)
31. Villanova (14-3)
32. Memphis (14-3)
33. Florida (16-2)
34. Utah State (17-1)
35. Kansas (13-4)
36. Washington (13-4)
37. Florida State (15-3)
38. Tennessee (11-5)
39. Michigan (13-5)
40. Stanford (12-3)
41. Texas A&M (15-3)
42. Missouri (15-3)
43. Wisconsin (12-5)
44. George Mason (14-3)
45. Oklahoma State (12-4)

By league: Big East (9), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (7), ACC (6), Pac-10 (5), SEC (3), WCC (2), Atlantic 10 (1), CAA (1), Conference USA (1), Horizon (1), Southern (1), WAC (1)

Patrick Stevens