A streak that began in the first week of 1983 continued on Monday – but just barely.
When the Associated Press on Monday released its top 25 college basketball poll, it included Duke at No. 23. Had the Blue Devils fallen out of the top 25, it would have marked the first time since Dec. 28, 1982 Duke and North Carolina were unranked at the same time.
As it is, this is the first time that both Duke and UNC have been outside the top 20 since the final poll of the 1995-96 season. Duke was unranked in that poll, released on March 12, 1996, and UNC was ranked 25th.
Since then, either Duke or UNC had been ranked among the top 20 in 331 consecutive polls. That streak began with the preseason poll before the 1996-97 season, and it ended this week.
Both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are off to disappointing starts in the ACC play, and UNC, off to an 0-3 start in the conference, hasn’t been ranked in the top 25 since the Dec. 30 poll. Duke, meanwhile, has slid steadily down the rankings.
The Blue Devils, who started the season ranked No. 4, were ranked 16th following their loss at Notre Dame. Duke’s loss Saturday at Clemson nearly dropped the Blue Devils out of the rankings for the first time since 2007.
UNC, meanwhile, is still seeking its first ACC win. The Tar Heels are 0-3 in the league for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
“I think we are shook a little bit,” UNC coach Roy Williams said on Monday. “But there’s no way to hide from it, so we talk about it. Say hey, we haven’t done as well as we wanted to do, but it’s no time to panic. The only thing that panic can do is make it worse.”
Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter