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By Thomas Gessner
A new number one spot and multiple in-state matchups shuffle up the power rankings as North Carolina’s 18 Division I basketball programs get closer to their respective conference tournaments.
1. UNC Chapel Hill (13-7, 7-5 ACC)
The Tar Heels were unable to exceed expectations against Virginia on Saturday, falling 48-60. But they picked up a solid 20-point win in a quickly-scheduled Northeastern matchup on Wednesday in place of the originally planned Miami matchup which was canceled last week. The Tar Heels find themselves on the bubble of the NCAA tournament, a position they are not used to being in. However, a solid Northeastern win and a UNCG loss is enough to propel UNC up to No. 1 in the rankings.
2. UNC Greensboro (15-7, 10-4 SoCon)
UNCG could not hold on Wednesday against fellow SoCon team VMI, a team that is about as impressive at home (11-1) as they are disastrous away (1-9). While the Keydets handed the Spartans an eleven point defeat, Greensboro had previously beaten the Virginia Military Institute by almost twenty, so UNCG fans shouldn’t worry too much. The Spartans fall in the rankings for the first time since the rankings were first published.
3. Davidson (10-5, 6-2 Atlantic 10)
Davidson has become such a difficult team to rank, with yet another week without any games played, but hope is on the horizon if the Wildcats can play against Southern Virginia this week.
4. Appalachian State (12-7, 6-4 Sun Belt)
App State went gameless this week, but their five remaining games allow the Mountaineers a chance to rise the ranks of the Sun Belt conference, currently third, with back-to-back games against South Alabama, the two seed.
5. Duke (9-8, 7-6 ACC)
The Duke Blue Devils kept it in state and in conference, defeating NC State and Wake Forest in two big away victories, an area where Duke has struggled this season. With a tough schedule ahead to close out the already challenging year for the Blue Devils, a revenge victory against Chapel Hill on March 6 could give the team needed momentum going into the ACC tournament.
6. North Carolina State (9-9, 5-8 ACC)
NC State suffered against a weak Duke squad, but rallied in a close win on Wednesday against Pitt, a team that was once thought to be quite competitive but has dipped drastically following an impressive start. The Wolfpack have not reached the level of play that they might have expected given their veteran backcourt and early winning streak.
7. UNC Asheville (10-9, 9-5 Big South)
Asheville fans might want to wait until the tournament to cheer, because that might be the next time the Bulldogs play, with a season filled with postponements and cancellations.
8. Campbell (12-9, 8-6 Big South)
Campbell finally participated in two games the past week, with back-to-back wins against a weak USC upstate, but important games nonetheless to remain competitive in the Big South, and keep the team ready for the tournament as the season concludes.
9. East Carolina (8-8, 2-8 AAC)
East Carolina takes Campbells’s spot as a team with no games, since this turbulent year has made itself more than present in these teams’ seasons.
10. UNC Charlotte (9-11, 5-7 CUSA)
The Niners collapsed against Old Dominion in their second matchup, and those two lapses have resulted in a deflation of the team, who now have four straight losses on the books.
11. North Carolina A&T (8-9, 4-0 MEAC)
The Aggies jumped in the rankings as a result of Wake’s shortcomings, but yet another week without games keeps impressions of this team limited.
12. Wake Forest (6-10, 3-10 ACC)
Last week I said Wake Forest always stayed competitive, and an overtime loss to Florida State, one of the best teams in the country, proved the Deacons’ grit, but that is not enough, and Wednesday’s blowout loss to Duke proves that.
13. Western Carolina (9-13, 2-11 SoCon)
Western Carolina’s performance in their conference has been incredibly disappointing, and the Catamount’s place in these rankings has been dependent on their performance against other North Carolina teams, as well as teams that NC schools have faced. Losses to Chattanooga and Furman further cement their conference strruggles.
14. North Carolina Central (4-5, 2-2 MEAC)
NC Central might accomplish something big for North Carolina teams, that being the team with the fewest games played.
15. High Point (8-11, 6-8 Big South)
High Point continued to trade wins with back-to-back matchups, winning then losing to Charleston Southern, keeping the team at a point of equilibrium.
16. UNC Wilmington (7-8, 1-5 CAA)
Wilmington remains gameless, but I don’t imagine their record would look much better even if they could play in their conference.
17. Gardner-Webb (9-14, 8-10 Big South)
Gardner-Webb snapped a four game losing streak with a recent win over fellow Big South team, Radford, but two straight losses to Longwood kept the Bulldogs from rising in the Big South.
18. Elon (4-8, 1-7 CAA)
Elon traded wins with Charleston in a back-to-back over the weekend, picking up their first conference win of the season.
Further reading:See how this week's rankings differ from last week ●
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