Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

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USATSI

I’ve spent the past couple of days highlighting how Purdue, UConn and Houston have kind of separated from the rest of the sport in terms of the bodies of work they’ve created to this point in the season. But the two closest teams to them, in my opinion, have been North Carolina and Tennessee.

Both lost Tuesday night.

North Carolina lost at Georgia Tech 74-73. Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina 63-59. That’s two top-10 teams losing to unranked opponents. And did you realize top-10 teams are losing on the road to unranked opponents more regularly than ever this season?

It’s true.

Matt Norlander detailed it in Tuesday’s Court Report. The updated numbers are as follows: after UNC’s loss at Georgia Tech, AP top-10 teams are now 25-29 on the road against unranked opponents this season. That represents a winning percentage of 46.3, which is 27.0 percentage points lower than the historical average in such matchups and 15.7 percentage points lower than the all-time worst win-rate in such matchups. So if it feels like top-10 teams are losing road games to unranked opponents more often than normal, it’s because they are.

“They were able to make one more play than us,” said North Carolina coach Hubert Davis, whose Tar Heels were undone by Nathan George’s layup with 7.7 seconds remaining that flipped a one-point lead into a one-point deficit. “It was a really good shot by George.”

The loss snapped North Carolina’s 10-game winning streak and dropped the Tar Heels to 17-4 overall, 9-1 in the ACC. Regardless, I only moved UNC down to No. 5 in Wednesday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings, simply because I do not believe anybody outside of the top five deserves to be ahead of a Tar Heels team that’s still 8-4 in the first two quadrants with four Q1 wins and only one defeat outside of Q1.

Bottom line, UNC still has one of the sport’s best bodies of work and would still safely be no worse than a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament right now. So I’ll continue to rank them accordingly. And now they’ll have have a chance to bounce back and further enhance their resume Saturday night with a fifth Q1 win when they host Duke inside the Dean Smith Center in a game scheduled to tip at 6:30 ET.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers

9

South Carolina

9

Texas Tech

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