UNC Basketball: Wins over Duke, NC State propel Tar Heels in AP Top 25


Tar Heels trending in the right direction at the right time

The North Carolina Tar Heels are fresh off of back-to-back wins over their two biggest rivals, Duke and N.C. State, and appear to be trending in the right direction at the right time.

The Tar Heels, who lost three consecutive games in late January and dropped to No. 21 in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, vaulted seven spots this week to 14th. It was the biggest upward movement by any team in this week’s poll.

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Led by junior forward Luke Maye, who’s putting together an All-American caliber season, North Carolina has found its offensive stride over the past week. Maybe more importantly, the Tar Heels have been playing energetic, inspired defense that is forcing opponents to work harder for good shots.

On top of the poll for the first time in 36 years is Virginia, who took the No. 1 ranking despite a home loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Cavaliers, now 23-2 on the season, earned 30 of the 65 first-place votes this week.

Michigan State moved up to No. 2 after a big win against Purdue on Saturday, while former No. 1 Villanova dropped two spots to third after a disappointing home loss to St. John’s. Xavier moved up one spot to fourth, and Cincinnati moved up a spot to fifth.

Purdue, who lost a heart-breaker in East Lansing, dropped from third to sixth this week. Big 12 leader Texas Tech stayed put at No. 7, and Big 10 front-runner Ohio State jumped six spots to No. 8. Gonzaga moved up to ninth after a big conference win over St. Mary’s, and Auburn, down two spots from last week, rounds out the top-10.

Clemson moved up five spots to 11th, while Duke and Kansas dropped to 12th and 13th, respectively. North Carolina is the final ranked ACC team this week, after 25th-ranked Miami dropped out of the poll.

Next: UNC on the move in latest Bracketology

North Carolina will look to continue its winning ways on Monday night in a home game against 15-10 Notre Dame.