By R.L. Bynum
North Carolina only beat a two-win team last week and that may be one reason why the Tar Heels were left out of the AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll for the fourth consecutive week.
UNC was No. 19 in the preseason poll and No. 18 the next week before it fell out of the poll after losing to Purdue and Tennessee in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament before Thanksgiving.
No. 22 Xavier, No. 23 Colorado State and No. 25 Texas Tech debuted in the poll but the Tar Heels only got the 27th-most poll points. Carolina got the 29th-most poll points in the coaches poll.
Those new teams in the poll took advantage of losses by Florida (No. 20 last week but now unranked after it losing to Texas Southern 69–54 and Maryland 70–68), Wisconsin (No. 21 last week but now with the 26th-most poll points after it losing to Ohio State 73–55) and BYU (No. 24 last week but now unranked after it fell 83–71 against Creighton).
Ranking UNC the highest at No. 16 were Donald Hurt of the Philadelphia Tribune and Ethan Joyce of the Winston-Salem Journal. Seth Davis of The Athletic voted the Tar Heels No. 18.
WRALSportsFan.com’s Lauren Brownlow voted Carolina No. 21 but the third North Carolina-based voter, Luke DeCock of The News & Observer, was one of 38 voters to leave the Tar Heels off their ballots. There were 42 voters who left UNC off their ballots last week.
Andy Katz has Carolina No. 15 in his power rankings.
After impressive victories over Michigan (72–51) and Georgia Tech (79–62), Carolina’s first post-exam-break game against Elon (2–8) on Saturday was a little more uneven but the Tar Heels won 80–63. Carolina faces Furman at home Tuesday at 7 p.m. (ESPN2).
Purdue (9–1), which lost at Rutgers 70–68 and needed overtime to win at N.C. State 82–72 on Sunday, dropped from No. 1 to No 3, with Baylor (9–0) taking over the top spot. The Bears rolled to a 57–36 win over Villanova, which fell from No. 6 to No. 9.
UCLA, which UNC faces at 3 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas (CBS), remained at No. 4. Obviously, Carolina will be ranked if it beats the Bruins.
Duke hasn’t played since losing to Ohio State 71–66 on Nov. 30 but moved up one spot from No. 3 to No. 2. The Blue Devils are the only ranked ACC team.
AP Top 25
Others receiving votes: Wisconsin 156, North Carolina 85, Providence 57, Oklahoma 46, San Francisco 36, Illinois 31, West Virginia 24, Loyola Chicago 20, Michigan 8, St. Bonaventure 6, BYU 4, Minnesota 3, Creighton 1.
UNC season statistics
day, time, TV
|5||83–55 exhibition win||Home||Elizabeth City State|
|9||83–67 win, 1–0||Home||Loyola Maryland|
|12||94–87 win, 2–0||Home||Brown|
|16||94–83 win, 3–0||Road||College of Charleston|
|20||93–84 loss, 3–1||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 3 Purdue|
|21||89–72 loss, 3–2||Uncasville, Conn.||Y — No. 18 Tennessee|
|23||72–53 win, 4–2||Home||UNC Asheville|
|December (3–0, 1-0 ACC)|
|1||72–51 win, 5–2||Home||X — Michigan|
|5||79–62 win, 6–2, 1-0 ACC||Road||Georgia Tech|
|11||80–63 win, 7–2||Home||Elon|
|14||Tuesday, 7, ESPN2||Home||Furman|
|18||Saturday, 3, CBS||Las Vegas||Z — No. 4 UCLA|
|21||Tuesday, 7, ACCN||Home||Appalachian State|
|29||Wednesday, 7, ESPN2||Home||Virginia Tech|
|1||Saturday, noon, ACCN||Road||Boston College|
|5||Wednesday, 9, ESPN2||Road||Notre Dame|
|8||Saturday, 1, ESPN||Home||Virginia|
|15||Saturday, 8, ACCN||Home||Georgia Tech|
|18||Tuesday, TBA, ESPN||Road||Miami|
|22||Saturday, 8, ACCN||Road||Wake Forest|
|26||Wednesday, RSN||Home||Boston College|
|29||Saturday, 2, ACCN||Home||N.C. State|
|31||Monday, 7, ESPN||Road||Louisville|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Home||No. 2 Duke|
|8||Tuesday, 9, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||Clemson|
|12||Saturday, 2, ESPN or ESPN2||Home||Florida State|
|16||Wednesday, 8, ACCN||Home||Pittsburgh|
|19||Saturday, 4, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||Virginia Tech|
|21||Monday, 7, ESPN||Home||Louisville|
|26||Saturday, 2 or 4, ESPN or ESPN2||Road||N.C. State|
|28||Monday, 7, ESPN||Home||Syracuse|
|5||Saturday, 6, ESPN||Road||No. 2 Duke|
Y — Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off; Z — CBS Sports Classic
Photo via @UNC_Basketball