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Tar Heels rise in latest ESPN Power Rankings

Victories over Harvard and Pitt have Tar Heels on the rise in latest ESPN Power Rankings

The North Carolina Tar Heels appear to be on the upswing again after victories over Harvard and Pittsburgh last week. And thanks to a 3-0 mark since their disappointing loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in Chicago, the Tar Heels are on the rise in the latest ESPN Power Rankings.

Particularly from a defensive standpoint, North Carolina has been a much more effective unit since giving up 80 points to then-19th ranked Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic. The Tar Heels have allowed just 59 points per game over the past week, giving up no more than 60 points in any one contest.

Thanks to their improved play of late — and perhaps in part to the lesser level of competition — the 11-3 Tar Heels are up to No. 11 in the power rankings. It’s one spot north of their previous ranking, and just one position away from rejoining the top-10, where they’ve spent the majority of the season.

First-place in this week’s rankings goes to the Duke Blue Devils, who haven’t dropped a game since their lone defeat of the season to the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Michigan Wolverines are 15-0 on the season, and ranked second this week. A Wolverines victory over No. 21 Indiana on Sunday certainly won’t hurt their case for a chance at the top spot on next week’s list.

No. 3 this week is SEC juggernaut Tennessee, who beat Georgia by 46 points on Saturday. Virginia is fourth after dismantling No. 9 Florida State on Saturday, and Gonzaga is up to fifth after blowout wins over Cal State Bakersfield and Santa Clara.

Texas Tech is off to a 2-0 start in Big 12 play, and comes in at No. 6 on this week’s list. Michigan State is seventh after knocking off Big 10 foe Ohio State on Saturday. The Kansas Jayhawks got destroyed by the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames on Saturday, and sit at No. 8 this week. Virginia Tech is up to ninth, and Nevada — who lost its first game of the season in blowout fashion on Saturday — rounds out the top-10.

After North Carolina at No. 11, it’s Florida State and Auburn at 12th and 13th, respectively. NC State, Houston and Kentucky are the final three teams ranked this week.

Next: Justin Jackson scores career-high against Warriors

North Carolina is one of six ACC teams ranked on this week’s list.

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