UNC Basketball: Associated Press Rankings drops one program, moves another up

The UNC Basketball programs ended their 2023 year with two victories, surprisingly though, both programs did not see a rise in the first AP Poll of 2024.
Charleston Southern v North Carolina
Charleston Southern v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

After a Christmas break lay-off, both UNC Basketball programs returned to action before the end of the 2023 year. The UNC Women's Basketball team had an eleven day break between beating Oklahoma in the Jumpman Invitational on December 20th and ending the year in Carmichael Arena on New Years Eve versus Clemson in the first ACC game of the season.

The previously ranked No. 24 Tar Heels closed out the year and jumped into 2024 with a six-point victory over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. However, the Associated Press voters were not impressed with that small margin of victory and as a result, actually dropped North Carolina out of the rankings.

The Tar Heels are the 26th team in the rankings based on the receiving votes category, as Courtney Banghart's squad received 49 votes in this week's poll. While it comes as a bit of a surprise to fall out of the rankings following a victory, it does happen and the Tar Heels will have plenty of opportunities to earn respect back from the AP voters.

Over the next three games, the UNC Women's Basketball program will play No. 25 Syracuse (January 4th), at No. 16 Notre Dame (January 7th), and at No. 22 Florida State (January 11th). It will be an important stretch in conference action and also in building their NCAA Tournament resume with quality wins.

As for the men's side of things and the UNC Basketball program, the Tar Heels had a break of their own following the 81-69 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in Charlotte on December 20th. That win moved the Tar Heels from No. 11 into the top-10 on Christmas Day, with the voters ranking North Carolina No. 9 in the final poll of 2023.

The Tar Heels closed out the year with a 105-60 victory by dominating Charleston Southern in the Dean Smith Center for one final tune-up before getting ready for conference play themselves. That victory moved the Tar Heels up once again in the AP Poll. In the first poll of the new year, the UNC Basketball team is now up to No. 8 in the latest rankings.

This gives Hubert Davis the highest ranking in the AP Poll this late in a season during his head coaching career and the highest ranking for the UNC Basketball program after New Year's Day since the Week 16 poll in 2018-2019 when the Tar Heels were ranked No. 8 on February 18th, 2019.

Two difficult road tests await the Tar Heels in the first week of the New Year as they will travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, January 2nd, and then finish out the week with a trip to face the No. 16-ranked Clemson Tigers on Saturday, January 6th.

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