UNC women earn highest AP ranking in nearly 7 years

By R.L. Bynum

North Carolina’s incredible rally to beat Iowa State for the Phil Knight Invitational title, its second win over a ranked team last week, earned the Tar Heels their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 women’s basketball poll in nearly seven years.

UNC (6–0) jumped two spots to No. 6 for their best ranking since being No. 6 on Dec. 15, 2015, and are in the top 6 for the 117th time in program history. Carolina also is No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, a jump of four spots.

The Tar Heels trailed by 17 points in the first half but beat the Cyclones 73–64, thanks to ACC Player of the Week and tournament MVP Deja Kelly’s 29 points, Kennedy Todd-Williams’ 17 points (all in the second half) and an amazing 23–3 second-half run. On Thursday, Carolina rallied to knock off Oregon (which dropped one spot to No 19) 85–79.

Iowa State (5–1) fell three spots to No. 8 in the AP poll.

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Carolina plays its third consecutive ranked opponent Thursday at 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network), visiting No. 5 Indiana (7–0), which went up one spot, in the final ACC-Big Ten Challenge. It will be the Tar Heels’ second consecutive top-10 clash after they pushed their all-time record in such games to 22–19 with the Iowa State victory.

Carolina has the highest rank in the ACC, followed by No. 7 Notre Dame (6–0), No. 9 Virginia Tech (6–0), No. 12 N.C. State (6–1) and No. 18 Louisville (5–2). The Irish’s rank didn’t change but the Hokies moved up two spots and the Wolfpack slid up one spot.

The Cardinals suffered the biggest drop in the poll of eight spots after a 65–55 loss to South Dakota State.

Michigan (7–0), which UNC faces on Dec. 20 in the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte, moved up five spots to No. 17 after winning three games to capture the Gulf Coast Showcase title. The Wolverines beat Air Force 68–48, South Florida 63–58 and No. 21 Baylor 84–75.

Mitchell Northam of WUNC, the only North Carolina-based voter, and the ACC Network’s Kelly Gramlich were two of nine to vote the Tar Heels the highest at No. 4.

ESPN’s M.A. Voepel, who voted UNC No. 7, had the Tar Heels as the Team of the Week.

The only voter who didn’t have UNC in the top 10 was P.J. Brown of the Arizona Daily Star, who had the Heels No. 12.

Four voters had the Tar Heels No. 5, three had them No. 6, eight had them No. 7, two had them No. 8, one voter (Danny Davis of the Austin American-Statesman) had them No. 9 and one (Mike Carmin of the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Ind.) voted them No. 10.

Carolina is No. 5 in The Athletic’s rankings.

AP Top 25

RankTeamChangePoll points
(first-place votes)
1South Carolina (6-0)725 (29)
2Stanford (8-1)687
3UConn (5-0)676
4Ohio State (6-0)605
5Indiana (7-0)+1587
6North Carolina (6-0)+2577
7Notre Dame (6-0)565
8Iowa State (5-1)-3492
9Virginia Tech (6-0)+2457
10Iowa (5-2)-1435
11LSU (7-0)+1412
12North Carolina State (6-1)+1408
13Creighton (6-0)+3351
14Arizona (6-0)+1350
15UCLA (7-0)+5281
16Utah (6-0)+1280
17Michigan (7-0)+5265
18Louisville (5-2)-8262
19Oregon (5-1)-1198
20Maryland (6-2)-6166
21Baylor (5-2)127
22Texas (3-3)-3126
23Gonzaga (5-1)85
24Marquette (6-1)64
25Villanova (6-1)-261

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 50, South Dakota State 37, Arkansas 36, Kansas State 25, Kansas 17, Tennessee 12, Virginia 2, Duke 2. Point values in parentheses indicate the number of first-place votes.


UNC history as top-6 team

No. 6 (16 weeks) — 1 week in 2022–23 season (Nov. 29), 1 week in 2013–14 season (Jan. 27), 3 weeks in 2014–15 season (Dec. 1–15), 1 week in 2005–06 season (Dec. 12); 1 week in 2004–05 season (Dec. 20); 1 week in 2002–03 season (Feb. 17), 3 weeks in 1998–99 season (Dec. 21–Jan. 4); 2 weeks in 1997–98 season (Dec. 8, Jan. 26), 1 week in 1996–97 season (Jan. 27), 1 week in 1994–95 season (preseason), 1 week in 1993–94 season (Dec. 28)
No. 5 (31 weeks) — 1 week in 2009–10 season (preseason); 2 weeks in 2007–08 season (Nov. 19, Dec. 3); 3 weeks in 2005–06 season (Dec. 19–Jan. 2); 3 weeks in 2004–05 season (Dec. 6, Dec. 13, Jan. 3); 2 weeks in 1998–99 season (Nov. 16, Nov. 23), 7 weeks in 1997–98 season (preseason, Nov. 17, Dec. 15–29, Feb. 5, Feb. 9), 3 weeks in 1996–97 season (Feb. 3, Feb. 10, Feb 24), 2 weeks in 1994–95 season (Nov. 29, Jan. 31), 8 weeks in 1993–94 season (Dec. 14, Dec. 21, Feb. 14–March 8)
No. 4 (25 weeks) — 3 weeks in 2009–10 season (Nov. 16–Nov. 30), 1 week in 2008–09 season (Nov. 17); 3 weeks in 2007–08 season (Nov. 26, Dec. 24, Dec. 31); 2 weeks in 2006–07 season (Feb. 19, Feb. 26); 2 weeks in 2005–06 season (Jan. 9, Jan. 16), 3 weeks in 2004–05 season (Feb. 28–March 14), 3 weeks in 1996–97 season (Feb. 17, March 3, March 10), 6 weeks in 1994–95 season (Dec. 6–Jan. 10), 2 weeks in 1993–94 season (Jan. 11, March 15)
No. 3 (11 weeks) — 6 weeks in 2007–08 season (Jan. 7–Feb. 11); 1 week in 2006–07 season (March 5); 2 weeks in 2005–06 season (Jan. 23, Feb. 13), 2 weeks in 1994–95 season (Jan. 17, Jan. 24)
No. 2 (31 weeks) — 9 weeks in 2008–09 season (Nov. 24–Jan. 19); 5 weeks in 2007–08 season (Feb. 18–March 17); 16 weeks in 2006–07 season (preseason–Feb. 12, March 12); 1 week in 2005–06 season (Feb. 20)
No. 1 (3 weeks) — 3 weeks in 2005–06 season (Feb. 27–March 13)


DateMonth/dayTime/scoreOpponent/event
(current ranking)
LocationTV/record
November
9WednesdayW, 91–59Jackson StateHome1–0
12SaturdayW, 75–48TCUHome2–0
16WednesdayW, 93–25South Carolina StateHome3–0
20SundayW, 76–65James MadisonHarrisonburg, Va.4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 85–79OregonPortland5–0
27SundayW, 73–64No. 21 Iowa State Portland6–0
DecemberACC/Big Ten Challenge
1ThursdayL, 87–63No. 2IndianaBloomington, Ind.6–1
7WednesdayW, 64–42UNCWHome7–1
11SundayW, 99–67WoffordHome8–1
16FridayW, 89–47USC UpstateHome9–1
Jumpman Invitational
20TuesdayL, 76–68No. 12 MichiganCharlotte9–2
ACC season begins
29ThursdayL, 78–71No. 19
Florida State
Home9–3, 0–1 ACC
January
1SundayL, 68–65No. 11
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va.9–4, 0–2 ACC
5ThursdayL, 62–58MiamiCoral Gables, Fla.9–5, 0–3 ACC
8SundayW, 60–50No. 10
Notre Dame
Home10–5,
1–3 ACC
12ThursdayW, 70–59VirginiaCharlottesville, Va.11–5,
2–3 ACC
15SundayW, 56–47No. 22 N.C. StateHome12–5,
3–3 ACC
19ThursdayW, 61–56No. 9 DukeHome13–5,
4–3 ACC
22SundayW, 70–57Georgia TechHome14–5,
5–3 ACC
26ThursdayW, 72–57PittsburghPittsburgh15–5,
6–3 ACC
29SundayW, 69–58ClemsonClemson16–5,
7–3 ACC
February
2ThursdayW, 73–62VirginiaHome17–5,
8–3 ACC
5SundayL, 62–55LouisvilleLouisville17–6,
8–4 ACC
9Thursday7 p.m.SyracuseSyracuseACCNX (ESPN3)
12SundayNoonBoston CollegeHomeACCNX (ESPN3)
16Thursday8 p.m.No. 22 N.C. StateRaleighACCN
19Sunday4 p.m.Wake ForestHomeACCN
23Thursday8 p.m.No. 11
Virginia Tech
HomeRSNs
26SundayNoonNo. 9 DukeDurhamRSNs
March
ACC Tournament
1–5Wednesday–SundayTBATBAGreensboroACCN Wed.-Sat.; final on ESPN or ESPN2
You can buy tickets to home games here. ACCN means the game airs on ACC Network. ACCNX means that the game is only streaming on ACC Network Extra (ESPN3.) RSNs means the game airs on regional sports networks (in many cases, Bally Sports but also MASN, NESN and Yes Network.)

Top photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications; trophy photo via @ModaCenter

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