Streaking Heels back in men’s Top 25, seek 2nd Quad 1 win Friday

Caleb Love drives for a dunk in UNC's victory over Michigan.

By R.L. Bynum

Carolina is back to playing well, has continued to improve during a four-game win streak, and now the Tar Heels are back in the AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll after a three-week absence.

UNC (9–4, 1–1 ACC) is No. 25 after following up its big 89–84 overtime victory Dec. 17 in New York over Ohio State with an 80–76 win Wednesday in Charlotte over Michigan. Losses by No. 21 Virginia Tech, No. 24 Marquette and No. 25 Arizona State dropped all three from the poll, aiding the Tar Heels’ return.

The Tar Heels are the only four-loss team in the poll. There are five three-loss teams: Gonzaga (10–3), Indiana (10–3), Duke (10–3), Kentucky (8–3) and Xavier (10–3).

Carolina still isn’t ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll, with the 27th-most poll points.

UNC will try to keep the momentum going at noon Friday (ACC Network), visiting Pittsburgh (9–4, 2–0). The Panthers have won three straight, and eight of their last nine, with road ACC wins against N.C. State (68–60) and Syracuse (84–80).

It will be a chance for Carolina, No. 24 in the NET rankings, to earn its second Quad 1 victory. Pittsburgh has a NET ranking of 70, and road games against teams 75 or higher meet that criteria. UNC is 1–4 in Quad 1 games, 4–0 in Quad 2 games (the Michigan win fell into that category), 2–0 in Quad 3 games and 2–0 in Quad 4 games. (See quad schedule breakdown below.)

Carolina is No. 20 in KenPom rankings and No. 34 in Bart Torvik’s rankings.

This is the fourth time Carolina has been ranked in the 20s in the AP poll since it happened three consecutive weeks in 2015 (No. 21 on Dec. 3, No. 24 on Dec. 15 and No. 20 on Dec. 22). UNC was No. 25 last season on March 7, No. 22 on Dec. 14, 2020, and No. 20 on Jan. 8, 2018.

The highest rank in program history after being unranked was in the 2010–11 season. That season, UNC was No. 8 in the first two polls and fell to No. 25 in the third poll. Then, after being unranked nine consecutive weeks, it returned to the poll at No. 23 on Jan. 31 and ascended to No. 7 by March 7. That team finished 30–8, losing to Kentucky 76–69 in the East Regional final.

Seth Davis of CBS and The Athletic voted UNC the highest at No. 16, with Stephen Means of ranking it No. 18.

C.L. Brown of The News & Observer ranked the Tar Heels No. 22. Thirty-three voters didn’t rank the Tar Heels, including David Thompson of the Fayetteville Observer and Jordan Crammer of WNCN.

ACC-leading Miami (12–1, 3–0) jumped from eight spots to No. 14 after its eighth consecutive victory, a 66–64 home win over Virginia (8–1, 1–1), which fell seven spots to No. 13.

Duke (10–3, 1–1), which dropped two spots the previous week even though it didn’t play, fell three more spots to No. 17 after an 81–70 defeat at Wake Forest (9–4, 1–1). The Blue Devils have three losses before January for the first time since the 1982–83 season, Mike Krzyzewski’s third at Duke.

Among other teams falling in the AP poll were:

— Mississippi State (11–1) from No. 15 to No. 21 after a 58–52 loss to Drake.
— Illinois (8–4) from No. 16 to unranked after a 93–71 loss to Missouri in St. Louis.
— Virginia Tech (11–2) fell from No. 21 to unranked after a 70–65 loss at Boston College (7–6).
— Marquette (9–4) from No. 24 to unranked after losing 103–98 in double overtime at Providence Tuesday.
— Arizona State (11–2) from No. 25 to unranked after a 97–60 loss Wednesday at unranked San Francisco (11–4).

UNC has faced three of the top six teams also receiving votes: College of Charleston (26th-most poll points), Ohio State (30th-most) and Virginia Tech (31st-most).

AP Top 25

RankTeamChangePoll points
(1st-place votes)
1Purdue (12–0)1,478 (40)
2UConn (13–0)1,459 (20)
3Houston (12–1)1,351
4Kansas (11–1)1,299
5Arizona (12–1)1,274
6Texas (10–1)+11,144
7Tennessee (10–2)+11,068
8Alabama (10–2)+11,067
9Arkansas (11–1)+11,017
10Gonzaga (10–3)+1940
11UCLA (11–2)+2906
12Baylor (9–2)888
13Virginia (8–2)-7861
14Miami (12–1)+8658
15Wisconsin (9–2)+2570
16Indiana (10–3)+2513
17Duke (10–3)-3500
18TCU (10–1)+2480
19Kentucky (8–3)439
20Auburn (10–2)+3237
21Mississippi State (11–1)-6215
22New Mexico (12–0)147
22Xavier (10–3)147
24West Virginia (10–2)126
25North Carolina (9–4)112

Others receiving votes: Charleston 102, Maryland 87, Memphis 74, Illinois 65, Ohio State 59, Virginia Tech 57, Missouri 57, San Diego State 39, Iowa State 19, Marquette 12, Texas Tech 10, Michigan State 7, Providence 6, Kansas State 5, USC 4, San Francisco 1.

Quad schedule breakdown

OpponentNET rankingQuadResult
College of Charleston532Win
James Madison692Win
Iowa State321Loss
At Indiana211Loss
At Virginia Tech271Loss
Georgia Tech1403Win
The Citadel2894Win
Ohio State151Win
At Pittsburgh701
Wake Forest873
Notre Dame1814
At Virginia181
At Louisville3444
Boston College2274
N.C. State552
At Syracuse1593
At Duke171
At Wake Forest872
At N.C. State551
At Notre Dame1813
At Florida State2504

UNC statistics

(current ranking)
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
Iowa State
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
No. 1 Alabama
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 21 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 14 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57No. 12 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7TuesdayL, 92–85Wake ForestWinston-Salem15–9,
7–6 ACC
11SaturdayW, 91–71ClemsonHome 16–9,
8–6 ACC
13MondayL, 80–72No. 16 MiamiHome16–10,
8–7 ACC
19SundayL, 77–69N.C. StateRaleigh16–11,
8–8 ACC
22WednesdayW, 63–59Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.17–11,
9–8 ACC
25SaturdayW, 71–63No. 14 VirginiaHome18–11,
10–8 ACC
27MondayW, 77–66Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.19–11,
11–8 ACC
4SaturdayL, 62–57No. 12 DukeHome19–12,
11–9 ACC
ACC tournament
8WednesdayW, 85–61Boston CollegeGreensboro20–12
9ThursdayL, 68–59No. 14 Virginia Greensboro20–13

Photo of Caleb Love via @UNC_Basketball


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