Tar Heels face toughest test of season Tuesday night at No. 3 Iowa with Brooks’ status uncertain

By R.L. Bynum

North Carolina fell two spots to No. 16 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 men’s basketball poll and faces its toughest challenge of the season Tuesday night at Iowa, which remains No. 3 in the latest poll.

The Tar Heels (3-1) were No. 14 before going 2-1 at the Maui Invitational, defeating UNLV and Stanford before losing in the championship game to Texas, which moved up from No. 17 to No. 13.

Many changes were expected after the Tar Heels were one of several teams in last week’s Top 25 to lose: Duke (fell from No. 6 to No. 10), Wisconsin (fell from No. 4 to No. 13), Illinois (stayed at No. 6), West Virginia (stayed at No. 11), Kentucky (fell from No. 20 to unranked) and Oregon (fell from No. 21 to unranked.)

Ranking UNC the highest at No. 11 was Chris Basnett of the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska. Three voters left the Tar Heels off their ballot: Dave Borges of the New Haven (Conn.) Register, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and James Crepea of The Oregonian in Eugene, Ore.

Lauren Brownlow of WRALSportsFan.com had UNC No. 16 on her ballot but the other two North Carolina voters had the Tar Heels lower. Luke DeCock of The News & Observer had UNC No. 17 and Ethan Joyce of the Winston-Salem Journal voted UNC No. 18.

The Tar Heels big men will have a tall task trying to contain Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes’ 6-foot-11, 260-pound senior forward who is averaging 34 points and 9.7 rebounds through three games.

That might be tougher if Garrison Brooks isn’t fully recovered from a sprained ankle he suffered in the loss to Texas. He didn’t participate in the first practice after the Maui Invitational and hasn’t been fully cleared to do everything in practice.

It will also be the toughest test of the season for Iowa (3-0), which has rolled past N.C. Central 97-76, Southern 103-76 and Western Illinois 99-58.

AP Top 25 poll

Others receiving votes: Michigan 107, Saint Louis 94, Florida 90, Indiana 40, Oregon 26, Oklahoma State 26, Marquette 22, Missouri 19, Connecticut 12, Xavier 9, Clemson 7, Alabama 5, Washington State 3, Maryland 2, UCLA 1, SMU 1, Oklahoma 1.

Photo courtesy of Maui Invitational

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