AMHERST, Mass. (AP) _ Outstanding matchups have been almost commonplace this season, with highly ranked teams facing each other a number of times And there's still 18 shopping days until Christmas. There was already a confrontation of point guards when Georgetown sophomore Allen Iverson went against Georgia Tech freshman Stephon Marbury the day before Thanksgiving.

On Wednesday night, there will be a rarity when Tim Duncan and Marcus Camby go at it in the low post in a clash of college basketball's two best centers. By the way, the game is No. 10 Wake Forest vs. No. 3 Massachusetts.

``It should be a great game and a great atmosphere,'' said the 6-foot-10 Duncan, a native of the Virgin Islands who many felt would have been the NBA's No. 1 pick had he left Wake Forest after his sophomore season. ``These are the types of games that players enjoy being a part of.''

Camby, an inch taller but 15 pounds lighter than the 230-pound Duncan, stayed closer to home, leaving Hartford, Conn. for Massachusetts. Projected as a forward when he moves to the NBA _ which he also considered in the offseason _ Camby is still a devastating defensive force with 103 blocks as a sophomore and his offensive improvement has been impressive in the early season.

``Tim has a variety of good low post moves where I like to run the floor and beat my man for easy baskets, play on the perimeter more, be more of a slasher,'' Camby said. ``This game has been hyped since the beginning of the season. I want to play, play my hardest and get it over with. After it, I'm not going to look at how I did and how Tim played. We just want to hit our stride around tournament time.''

The NCAA tournament is three months away and all eyes right now are on this game. The last true center matchup like this was Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston in the 1984 NCAA title game. The last regular-season center confrontation of this magnitude was Dec. 11, 1982, when Ewing and Virginia's Ralph Sampson met at the Capital Centre.

Wake Forest coach Dave Odom was an assistant to Virginia coach Terry Holland then.

``I would say it is extremely unfair to both Tim and Marcus to compare them as players to Ralph and Patrick and I resist that at all costs,'' Odom said. ``I would suggest that this is a similar event in that it is a game put together by television and put together because two teams have at this time the best-known big men in the country. Notice I didn't say best because they haven't proven to be the best yet. But I would say this is the most similar since that time.''

The Ewing-Sampson matchup, won by Virginia 68-63 with Sampson getting 23 points and 16 rebounds to Ewing's 16 and eight, was syndicated nationally and drew tremendous ratings. Duncan-Camby will be on ESPN and has been the talk of the early season schedule.

``ESPN called and suggested the game,'' Massachusetts coach John Calipari said when asked how the intersectional matchup came about. ``I said if Marcus stays, yes. If Marcus leaves, no.''

Camby stayed and that's why we'll see the game and why the Minutemen (3-0) are ranked third. He matched his career-high with 32 points in the opening win over Kentucky, Massachusetts' third straight year beating a No. 1 team in November. He came up big down the stretch in a defensive battle with then-No. 19 Maryland and had 30 points against Florida to win MVP honors in the Franklin National Bank Classic.

``I worked on my game this summer and the team looks up to me for big baskets,'' said Camby, who has been most impressive with his drop step move and turnaround jumper. ``Seeing how things have happened so fast and that there are still 30 games left, I have been impressed with myself so far.''

While Massachusetts has played a tough early schedule, Wake Forest (3-0) has beaten Mount St. Mary's, Oklahoma State and Lehigh. Duncan has dominated in all three, looking most impressive against the best of the three, Oklahoma State, while the Demon Deacons try and find a way to replace star guard Randolph Childress.

``They play with a little more speed, quickness and a little more verve than we do, especially at this time of the year,'' Odom said. ``It's more likely that UMass could win and Camby have a bad game than Duncan could and Wake Forest wins. I think that's fair, maybe it's not. I don't think this game will be viewed by Tim Duncan as an end unto itself. He is hoping to improve against one of the best players and best teams in the country on their homecourt. Those are reasons to play well. Those will get your motor started.''