By R.L. Bynum
Three consecutive victories and six wins in the last seven games weren’t enough to return North Carolina to the AP Top 25, leaving the Tar Heels out of the poll for a sixth consecutive week.
Voters evidently want to see much more from UNC, including victories over better teams. The Tar Heels only garnered the 41st-most poll points in the new poll that came out Monday after getting none the week earlier.
The Tar Heels (11–5, 6–3 ACC) were last ranked in the Dec. 21 poll at No. 17 before losing consecutive games at N.C. State and Georgia Tech. Carolina beat Pittsburgh 75–65 Tuesday in its only game last week.
Three voters have UNC No. 25 on their ballots this week: Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News and Ken Weinman of radio station WJZ in Baltimore.
Two teams with more losses than UNC are in the poll: No. 23 Kansas, which is 11–6, and No. 24 Purdue, which is 12–6.
Teams near the bottom of last week’s poll that are now unranked after losses are Minnesota (No. 21 last week, lost 81–62 to unranked Purdue), Saint Louis (No. 22 last week, fell to unranked Dayton 76–71) and Louisville (No. 25 last week, lost to Clemson 54–50.) Teams taking advantage of that and new this week to the poll are No. 22 Florida, Purdue and No. 25 Drake.
Carolina has two big road games this week against unranked teams, visiting Clemson (10–5, 4–4) at 7 p.m. Tuesday (ACC Network) and Duke (7–5, 5–3) at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
This will be the first Carolina-Duke game with neither ranked since the Tar Heels won 75–50 at Duke Indoor Stadium on Feb. 27, 1960, four days after Ebbets Field was demolished. Roy Williams was 9 years old. Mike Krzyzewski was 13.
This is the first time the initial UNC-Duke game of the season has been played before the Super Bowl since the Tar Heels went 8–20 in the 2001–02 season.
The Tar Heels enter the week 1½ games behind league-leading Virginia (11–3, 7–1).
During the three-game win streak, sophomore center Armando Bacot is averaging 18.7 points and eight rebounds per game.
AP Top 25
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma State 111, USC 57, Loyola Chicago 52, Minnesota 42, Xavier 25, Boise State 23, St. Bonaventure 19, Saint Louis 11, Belmont 11, Toledo 9, Oregon 8, Colorado 8, San Diego State 6, Connecticut 5, Louisville 4, North Carolina 3, Georgia Tech 2, Rutgers 1.
Point values in parentheses indicate the number of first-place votes.
ACC pool photo