A narrow and unconvincing 56-54 victory over Northeastern wasn’t enough to cost the Virginia Cavaliers their spot in the AP Poll, as they stayed put at #22 in this week’s edition of the Top 25. The Cavaliers did receive 13 fewer points this week, a drop from 300 to 287.
The ACC lost one team in the poll, as Miami dropped to the #26 spot in the rankings after a disappointing start to the year including blowout losses to Kentucky and Colorado. They fell out at the expense of undefeated Ole Miss and Penny Hardaway’s Memphis squad, which handed Clemson its first loss over the weekend. No ACC teams cracked the top ten.
The Boilermakers take over the No. 1 spot in the latest MBB AP Poll— ESPN (@espn) December 18, 2023
10) Baylor pic.twitter.com/CK71p49AZ8
Around the ACC
Four ACC teams remain in the top 25 after Miami’s unceremonious exit. Inertia from last year’s Final Four run finally ran out for Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes, who have struggled all season to recapture last season’s form on either side of the ball and currently sit at a dismal 59th on KenPom. Their best win so far came against a similarly-depleted Kansas State squad, and losing Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller would force any roster to take a step back.
North Carolina (#11)
The Tar Heels dropped two spots after an 0-2 week where they lost 87-76 to #5 UConn and 87-83 to #9 Kentucky at neutral sites. The Wildcats leapt UNC in the poll after their victory, and the going doesn’t get immediately easier for North Carolina as they face a resurgent Oklahoma roster in Charlotte on December 20. Aggressive early-season scheduling produced some marquee victories for UNC (Tennessee and Arkansas) but also handed the Tar Heels three losses to three very good teams. However, UNC continues to match up very well against the Cavaliers thanks to glass-cleaning big man Armando Bacot whose strengths are Virginia’s biggest weaknesses.
The Tigers dropped five spots after their first loss of the season in a true road game against Memphis but remain an ACC-best 9-1. They haven’t played cupcakes, either: KenPom ranks their non-conference strength of schedule 29th in the nation. PJ Hall continues to be one of the best big man in the ACC and adding Joe Girard has really opened up the floor for Brad Brownell’s squad.
The Blue Devils stood pat after a ho-hum 21-point home win over Hofstra. They’ll be tested this week at Madison Square Garden against a Baylor team coming off an embarrassing blowout loss to Michigan State but which has been otherwise excellent this season, then play one more cupcake tune-up against Queens before ACC play begins. Duke’s non-conference strength of schedule ranks just 199th, but they’ve already suffered three losses despite a relatively easy start. However, big wins and close losses make the Blue Devils KenPom’s top team in the ACC.
For the second straight week, no other ACC schools received votes in the poll. There’s a clear top five in the conference this season.