UNC Loses to FSU: How Far Will North Carolina Tar Heels Fall in AP Poll?

Gil ImberAnalyst IIJanuary 16, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 07:  An official warns the North Carolina Tar Heels huddle after a brief scuffle with the Boston College Eagles during play at the Dean Smith Center on January 7, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

With the Florida State Seminoles defeating the UNC Tar Heels on Jan. 14, North Carolina figures to enter Week 11 out of the top three in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coach's polls for the first time since Week 8, when UNC was ranked No. 5 in the AP poll.

Predicting where exactly the Tar Heels will end up in Week 11 may not be as straightforward as it seems. When No. 2 Ohio State lost to No. 13 Kansas in Week 5, they kept their No. 2 rank when standings were released a week later, with seven writers going so far as to place Ohio State at the No. 1 slot on their ballots.

When UNC lost to UNLV in the Las Vegas Invitational Championship, they fell from No. 1 in Week 3 to No. 5 in Week 4.

The Tar Heels retained their No. 5 rank in Week 5 after losing to then-No. 1 Kentucky days earlier.

So how far can we expect UNC to fall when Week 11 results are released in only a matter of hours?

To recap the Week 10 action, UNC defeated Miami 73-56 on Jan. 10 and lost to FSU by 33 points on Saturday.

No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Kentucky both went undefeated last week, meaning those two squads are fairly assured of holding their top spots.

No. 4 Baylor defeated Kansas State 75-73 on Tuesday, followed by a huge, 51-point victory at Oklahoma State on Saturday. Considering the Bears are still undefeated whereas UNC has now lost three games, expect them to take the No. 3 slot.

No. 5 Ohio State lost a 79-74 contest to Illinois last week but also defeated No. 7 Indiana by 17 points on Sunday. While both UNC and OSU lost to programs not in the Top 25, OSU's loss came during a more competitive game, while their win was against a top 10 squad in Indiana. OSU will also leap right over the tumbling Tar Heels in Week 11.

No. 6 Michigan State beat Iowa by 34 points, while losing 81-74 at Northwestern. No. 13 Michigan meanwhile defeated Northwestern 66-64, suggesting Northwestern, previously not ranked, might deserve a look at the Top 25. The Spartans look poised to sneak up to and possibly over UNC.

No. 7 Indiana lost to unranked Minnesota 77-74 on Thursday and were defeated by No. 5 OSU on Sunday. UNC will likely remain ahead of Indiana when the poll is released, as both teams will fall.

No. 8 Duke might have lost to Temple on January 4, but they swept No. 17 Virginia and unranked Clemson last week, suggesting Duke might very well leap frog their rivals this week. The Blue Devils host FSU on January 21, and a dominating performance would suggest they are indeed better than UNC. Duke visits Chapel Hill on February 8.

No. 9 Missouri and No. 10 Kansas both defeated Iowa State, while the Tigers beat Texas by nine and the Jayhawks blew out Texas Tech 81-46.

Outside the top 10, Georgetown, UNLV, Michigan and Louisville all lost once last week, while No. 15 Murray State beat Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech.

UNC will probably not fall below Murray State in the Week 11 poll.

The last team to drop more than seven positions in a single week is Connecticut, which dropped from No. 8 to No. 17 after losing to both Seton Hall and Rutgers in Week 10.

This suggests one blowout loss for UNC will not be enough to knock them out of the top 10.

Given the performance of all top 10 teams around college basketball last week, the Tar Heels stand to lose some ground—a drop out of the top five is likely, but a fall out of the single digits is improbable.

When No. 3 Duke lost to Ohio State as their only game in Week 4, the Blue Devils slipped to No. 7 the following Monday.

Expect a similar fate for North Carolina.