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By Thomas Gessner
The Spartans stayed dominant, but numerous upsets created a lot of movement among the teams this week. Here are NC College Beat’s official power rankings of the Hoop State’s 18 Division I basketball programs:
1. UNC Greensboro (12-5, 7-2 SoCon)
UNCG sits atop both the power rankings and the SoCon after their wins over VMI and the Citadel this past week. The Spartans have now won seven games in a row and look to keep rolling in conference play.
2. Davidson (10-5, 6-2 Atlantic 10)
Despite not playing any games this week, Davidson has moved up a spot in the rankings. Looking forward, Davidson’s biggest obstacle left in the season is 13-4 VCU, who they must play twice in their final seven games.
3. UNC Chapel Hill (11-6, 6-4 ACC)
What is there to be said that hasn’t already been stated by sports commentators and repeated by aggregators? The Tar Heels have been unable to stay consistent, losing on Tuesday to a Clemson squad that was blown out just a few days ago by Duke. A bad showing by freshman point guard Caleb Love and too many turnovers led to the team’s downfall. The question going into Saturday night for UNC will be a simple one: Does the team have what it takes to beat their biggest rivals and keep this season afloat?
4. UNC Asheville (10-9, 9-5 Big South)
Asheville made a big splash last Friday with their win over previously undefeated Winthrop. The Bulldogs have had trouble beating the same team twice (Radford, Gardner-Webb, Winthrop, Hampton, Longwood), but they are still an effective basketball team with a very solid conference record.
5. Duke (7-6, 5-4 ACC)
The Blue Devils cannot create space between their wins and losses, making for a very frustrating season. After Duke pulverized the credible Clemson Tigers last week, they squandered that win with a loss to a poor Miami team. Duke is still a top five team in the state, but Saturday’s game against UNC could very well change that.
6. Appalachian State (12-7, 6-4 Sun Belt)
This past week, the Mountaineers were handed two tough losses from Troy, a team that is just tenth in the Sun Belt. The conference has been quite competitive though, and the Mountaineers have looked good overall. Their upcoming matchups with Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern will be very important if they want to keep their hopes of being conference champions alive.
7. UNC Charlotte (9-7, 5-3 CUSA)
Charlotte boosted their conference record with two wins against a bad Florida International team this week, keeping themselves notable in Conference USA.
8. North Carolina State (7-7, 3-6 ACC)
The Wolfpack kept things close against Virginia tonight, but a loss to the AP No. 17 team prevented NC State from making any big leaps in the rankings, especially considering their troubles in conference play.
9. East Carolina (8-6, 1-6 AAC)
East Carolina was like a secret mailman, delivering one of the most surprising upsets of the season with a ten point victory against No. Houston on Wednesday. The victory marks the squad’s first ever win against a top five team. This win changes the whole perspective on the Pirates, who have been downright bad in conference play this season.
10. Campbell (10-9, 6-6 Big South)
Campbell continues to be an alright team, recovering from two close losses to Radford with two victories over Charleston Southern this week. With four games left, the Fighting Camels hope to make a run with two back-to-back series against Hampton and USC Upstate.
11. Wake Forest (5-8, 2-8 ACC)
Wake Forest has just not figured it out in the ACC Even though the team had a dominant outing against Miami, they followed it up with a blowout loss to a struggling Notre Dame team. Credit to the Demon Deacons though; they manage to stay competitive in most games, but just lack the talent to seal the deal most of the time.
12. North Carolina A&T (8-9, 4-0 MEAC)
The Aggies remain dominant in a weak MEAC North, and two wins against Florida A&M this week continues their hot streak. However, A&T’s unceremonious start to the season still holds the team back from any substantial movement.
13. North Carolina Central (4-3, 2-0 MEAC)
NC Central finally got some more wins on the board, albeit against Carver College and winless South Carolina State. They are a team that has not played enough basketball to garner a deep opinion, so for now, the main point to be made about the Eagles’ record is that the MEAC conference is truly downtrodden.
14. Western Carolina (8-10, 1-8 SoCon)
Western Carolina’s troubles in the SoCon reflect their standing in the power rankings, especially with the loss to the Chattanooga Mocs on Wednesday. The Catamounts are limping their way to the end of the season now.
15. UNC Wilmington (7-8, 1-5 CAA)
Wilmington has suffered in the CAA, and two losses to Hofstra have not helped the team in the standings, but Wilmington overall has been a competitive team against fellow North Carolina schools, and that is the difference maker keeping the Seahawks from falling big in the power rankings.
16. High Point (6-9, 4-6 Big South)
High Point has generated some momentum with two valuable wins over a Gardner-Webb team that was thought to be relatively good at this point in the season. The question at hand for High Point, and Gardner-Webb for that matter, is the following: Was the win impressive for High Point, or revealing for Gardner-Webb? At this point, it is safe to say that both sentiments can be accurate.
17. Gardner-Webb (6-11, 5-7 Big South)
Gardner-Webb fell big in the power rankings after losing to a disastrous High Point team twice. They had been consistent in the Big South and had a fine record against NC schools, but these losses put the team below almost every team, barring the pitiful Elon squad.
18. Elon (3-6, 0-5 CAA)
Elon cannot catch a break. In fact, they don’t seem like they can catch a basketball. With zero wins against a single CAA team, and a schedule that includes some of the weakest competition in division 1 basketball.
Further Reading: See how this week's rankings differ from last week ●
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