By AARON BEARD, AP Basketball Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Big 12 is poised for a big week as conferences dive deep into league play.
It has a national-best six teams in this week’s AP Top 25 along with two games featuring a pair of ranked teams, including No. 12 Oklahoma’s visit to 10th-ranked surprise TCU as the top game on the schedule in the week ahead.
“I think it’s two teams playing with a lot of confidence, and we’ve got to go in there and do what we do every day in practice,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said after Friday’s win against Northwestern . “A lot of good teams in the Big 12 and we know how tough every night is going to be.”
No. 18 Baylor (10-2) visits No. 22 Texas Tech (11-1) on Friday to start the Big 12 doubleheader, then freshman star Trae Young leads Oklahoma (10-1) into Fort Worth to face TCU (12-0) — which owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games dating to last year’s run to the NIT title.
The Horned Frogs have their highest ranking in program history under second-year coach Jamie Dixon. They had never been higher than 13th (February 1998) before climbing five slots in Monday’s new poll.
“It’s what it is — I don’t spend a lot of time on it,” Dixon said after Friday’s win against William & Mary . “I think we’re good. I know we can be better. … But I think certainly we’ll have a big-time atmosphere and a big-time game come December 30th. That’s what we came here to do. So it’s upon us.”
SUN DEVILS’ TEST
Third-ranked Arizona State (12-0) has spent the past month reaching milestones for matching the highest ranking in program history (last time in 1980-81) and posting the best start in program history.
Now comes a new test: a Saturday trip to face a regrouped Arizona squad.
The 17th-ranked Wildcats (10-3) went from No. 2 nationally to unranked in a week after an 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, but have since won seven straight games .
MORE RANKED MATCHUPS
There are two other matchups between ranked teams. No. 23 Seton Hall hosts No. 25 Creighton in the Big East on Thursday, while No. 4 Duke hosts No. 24 Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday.
VILLANOVA STAYS ON TOP
The top four teams stayed unchanged in Monday’s poll , with Villanova checking in at No. 1 for the third straight week after receiving 43 of 65 first-place votes.
The Wildcats (12-0) open Big East play with two road games, first Wednesday at DePaul and then Saturday at Butler.
There were no new teams nor departures from this week’s poll, with eight teams staying in their same spot from last week.
Arkansas was the leading vote-getter not to make this week’s poll, though the Razorbacks will get a chance for a resume-helping win this week. The Razorbacks (9-2) first host Cal State-Bakersfield on Wednesday before hosting No. 19 Tennessee (9-2) on Saturday in their Southeastern Conference opener.
Clemson (11-1) hovers 30 points back of Arkansas and hosts North Carolina State on Saturday in the ACC.
Two other teams — Texas and Louisville — face ranked opponents Friday. The Longhorns (9-3) host No. 11 Kansas, while the Cardinals (10-2) visit No. 16 Kentucky.
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