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By Thomas Gessner
UNC Chapel Hill and UNCG stay put, Duke falls, and Appalachian State rises. Here are our weekly power rankings of the Hoop State’s 18 Division I basketball programs:
1. UNC Greensboro (11-5, 6-2 SoCon)
UNCG has kept its momentum, winning three straight games since last week, all of them by eight points or more. The Spartans have proved themselves with quality wins over Chattanooga and Mercer, and excellent play from senior guard Isaiah Miller make them a true contender in the SoCon and a team to watch out for come March.
2. UNC Chapel Hill (11-5, 6-3 ACC)
The Tar Heels have shaken off their poor start with a three-game winning streak in the ACC. On Saturday, they defeated NC State in convincing fashion then followed it up with Tuesday’s victory over Pitt, a top-five ACC team. With their recent success, the door is certainly still open to break back into the AP Top 25 this season.
3. Appalachian State (12-5, 6-2 Sun Belt)
There’s nothing wrong with dominating your conference, a lesson Appalachian State has been teaching fellow Sun Belt teams. They currently sit atop the Sun Belt East and have the most victories of any other North Carolina team this season.
4. Davidson (10-5, 6-2 Atlantic 10)
Davidson continues to play competitive, winning basketball. They’re riding a four-game winning streak right now, the longest current streak of any North Carolina team. The Atlantic 10 has yet to prove itself as a very competitive conference this season, but Davidson sits behind only St. Bonaventure.
5. UNC Asheville (9-8, 8-4 Big South)
UNC Asheville 1-2 record this past week represents the inconsistency of the Bulldogs, a team that has had trouble beating teams twice, including Gardner-Webb, Radford, Hampton, and Longwood. Still, the team is in a great position in the Big South, with games against the undefeated Winthrop approaching shortly.
6. Duke (6-5, 4-3 ACC)
Duke might have ended their three-game losing streak after Tuesday’s win over Georgia Tech, but their losses to Pitt and Louisville are still very uncharacteristic of the Blue Blood program. According to ESPN, Duke’s NCAA tournament chances dramatically fell from >99 percent chance in the preseason to just a 17 percent chance, putting Duke’s path to a bracket spot very much in doubt.
7. UNC Charlotte (7-7, 3-3 CUSA)
The 49ers took revenge on Florida Atlantic after a devastating overtime loss, keeping the team at .500 in a conference with three .500 teams. That being said, Charlotte has not found much success outside of the conference, and has yet to look like a force in the league.
8. North Carolina State (6-5, 2-4 ACC)
It was another disappointing week for NC State with their 86-76 to UNC, a squad that State dealt with earlier in the season. However, the Wolf Pack broke a four-game skid with a victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday.
9. Gardner-Webb (6-9, 5-5 Big South)
Gardner-Webb improved their record mightily with three conference wins in a row, and now they look to make something of themselves in the Big South.
10. Campbell (8-9, 4-6 Big South)
Campbell hasn’t played since last Wednesday, but they hope to bounce back from two consecutive losses when they play South Carolina Upstate this Friday.
11. East Carolina (7-6, 1-6 AAC)
A loss to Central Florida on Wednesday night seemed like it could be the nail in the coffin as far as ECU’s conference hopes go. All of the Pirate’s losses have come from AAC teams.
12. Wake Forest (4-6, 1-6 ACC)
Wake’s single ACC win over Pitt on Saturday seemed to indicate that the Deacs had some life left in them, but they followed that victory up with a loss against a struggling NC State team on Wednesday. The team still has some adjusting to do under new head coach Steve Forbes.
13. North Carolina A&T (6-9, 2-0 MEAC)
The Aggies have not played in the last week, but a notable point to make would be that they have won and lost a game by 60 points this season, which is representative of the team’s sporadic inconsistency.
14. Western Carolina (7-8, 0-6 SoCon)
A five game losing streak against fellow SoCon teams has deflated the tough nature of Western Carolina, remaining winless in a strong conference. At this point, fans of the Catamounts should look out for some scrappy games against The Citadel, Wofford, and UNCG.
15. UNC Wilmington (7-6, 1-3 CAA)
After having three games postponed earlier in the month, UNCW has lost three of their last four games in their return to the court.
16. Elon (3-3, 0-2 CAA)
The Elon Phoenix are another team that have been plagued by COVID-19 postponements and haven’t played a game since Jan. 3. They also haven’t won a game since Dec. 16.
17. High Point (4-9, 2-6 Big South)
Tubby Smith’s coaching presence has yet to make an impact on the court, with High Point nursing a 2-6 conference record.
18. North Carolina Central (1-3, 0-0 MEAC)
Will NC Central play another game this season? Who knows. Their last seven scheduled matches have been postponed or canceled, but they are slated to play Florida A&M on Feb. 6. ●
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