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Thoughts on the AP Poll: North Carolina leapfrogs Duke men's basketball

<p>Alex O'Connell has stood out in Zion Williamson's absence.</p>

Alex O'Connell has stood out in Zion Williamson's absence.

 With just one week remaining in regular season play, things are starting to shape up across college basketball, as seen in the latest AP poll: 

Duke drops to No. 4

Just a week after losing its No. 1 ranking, Duke fell even further in the AP Top 25, to No. 4. The Blue Devils’ woes without star Zion Williamson continued last week, as No. 15 Virginia Tech upset Duke 77-72 on Tuesday. While the Blue Devils have dropped two games in Williamson’s absence, head coach Mike Krzyzewski gained the opportunity to experiment with different lineups, and Marques Bolden and Alex O’Connell are both on a tear in the last three games. Duke will host Wake Forest Tuesday in its final contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, before traveling down Tobacco Road to take on No. 3 North Carolina Saturday for the regular season finale.

North Carolina jumps into top three

The Tar Heels are on an absolute tear of late, winning 12 of their last 13 contests, including victories over Syracuse and Clemson Tuesday and Saturday, respectively. For their recent dominance, the AP voters rewarded North Carolina with the No. 3 spot, its highest ranking of the season. Freshman guard Coby White has come into his own recently, and averaged 31 points and 6 3-pointers in the Tar Heels’ action last week. Things are clicking at the right time for North Carolina, which hopes to ride on its recent momentum as March progresses.

Houston and Nevada take a tumble

Although Gonzaga sits at No. 1, this week’s rankings were not kind to mid-major powers, as Houston and Nevada moved down to 12th and 17th, respectively, dropping a combined 11 spots. According to, the Cougars and Wolfpack boast two of the three easiest schedules in the Top 25, and only No. 22 Wofford has a weaker strength of schedule. Each team lost in a tough conference game, potentially exposing the pair as overrated. 

Complete rankings:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Virginia
  3. North Carolina
  4. Duke
  5. Tennessee
  6. Kentucky
  7. Michigan
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Michigan State
  10. LSU
  11. Purdue
  12. Houston
  13. Kansas
  14. Florida State
  15. Virginia Tech
  16. Marquette
  17. Nevada
  18. Kansas State
  19. Buffalo
  20. Cincinnati
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Wofford
  23. Villanova
  24. Maryland
  25. UCF


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