11. North Carolina (8-3)
The Tar Heels weren’t challenged in the first few weeks of the season, but that’s certainly not been the case these last few weeks. North Carolina played well at the Battle 4 Atlantis, dropping a thriller in overtime to Villanova, won a shootout with Tennessee, and recently dropped tough contests against Connecticut and Kentucky. They got back on track in another big opportunity this week.
In what was actually their seventh straight game against a power conference program, the Tar Heels faced Oklahoma in the Jumpman Invitational and escaped with an 81-69 win, stopping their recent skid. The Tar Heels put together a great effort on both sides of the ball and were led by RJ Davis’s 23 points and a 14-point, 8-rebound effort out of Armando Bacot. North Carolina handed Oklahoma their first loss and got a Top 10 win in the process at a neutral-site.
Not only was this win over Oklahoma great for their resume, but it helped North Carolina show that they weren’t the same team as last season. Anything can happen in conference play in the coming weeks and months, but this year’s Tar Heels have shown elite offense at times and look like a legitimate contender again this season. They have a significant road trip to begin ACC play after New Year’s but first wrap up the nonconference slate against Charleston Southern next Friday.