23. North Carolina (5-3)
The Tar Heels team that was ranked atop the polls to begin the season doesn’t seem like the same team we’ve been watching in recent weeks. While North Carolina returns most of last year’s lineup (a lineup that played in the title game), we clearly overrated that momentum and chemistry. Things just are not going well for the Tar Heels and they are definitely one more bad performance away from dropping out of the rankings altogether.
After losses to Iowa State and Alabama during the Phil Knight Invitational, the Tar Heels had an even tougher assignment, heading to Bloomington to face #10 Indiana as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. North Carolina dropped their third straight game, losing 77-65 to the Hoosiers. Pete Nance had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Armando Bacot had 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Tar Heels needed a lot more than double-doubles from their two forwards. The Hoosiers shot 50% from the field and the Tar Heels just couldn’t keep up on the road.
No matter how you look at it, three straight losses are like a gut punch, especially to a team many expected to be among the elite in college basketball this year. While this did come against three very solid opponents (and all away from home), the fact of the matter is that these Tar Heels are underachieving. While Nance has been a nice addition, these pieces need to figure out how to play better offense and defense together before it’s too late. They’ll get a preview of ACC play with a road trip to Virginia Tech on Sunday; they’ll likely be the underdog and potential staring at a fourth-straight loss.
*Ranking was before game against Virginia Tech