Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP Top 25 basketball poll ballot: Week 8

Roy Williams following loss to Wofford : 'Terrible, terrible coaching job'

Wofford shocks Tar Heels, handing them their first home loss of the season on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Up Next
Wofford shocks Tar Heels, handing them their first home loss of the season on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

What to do with North Carolina? The home loss to Wofford is as bad a loss as any top-25 team has suffered this year, worse than Notre Dame's home loss to Ball State, or Florida's to Loyola Chicago, but the Tar Heels have a bunch of good wins (unlike, say, Kentucky).

When you look at the teams in the 7-15 range, North Carolina's record of 6-1 in games against top-100 opponents (per kenpom.com, adjusted for home/road) compares favorably with Wichita State (3-2), Virginia (3-1), Kansas (3-1), Baylor (2-2) and Seton Hall (3-2) while not quite as impressive as TCU (3-0), Texas A&M (4-1) and Xavier (4-1). There are other factors involved with where those teams are ranked, but it's one way to weigh that schedule strength when trying to figure out where the Tar Heels fit in that rough grouping.

So those six top-100 wins are enough to keep the Tar Heels in the top 10, as disappointing as the Wofford loss was. (And North Carolina's other loss is to Michigan State, inarguably one of the top two or three teams in the country.) UNC is also eighth in KenPom and seventh in Wins Against Bubble (which measures how a bubble team would do against a comparable schedule), so the Tar Heels are objectively a top-10 team by both predictive and results-based metrics. I'm sure the sheer shock value of the home loss to the Terriers will hurt North Carolina with many voters, but I'm comfortable North Carolina has a top-10 body of work.

If I was adding anyone to my top 25 this week, it would be St. Bonaventure, which is 10-2 after Saturday's win at Syracuse, another fringe top-25 team. The Bonnies have a “bad” loss to Niagara in their opener and “good” loss to TCU but have beaten Maryland, Vermont and Syracuse. They'll have a chance to prove something in a few weeks, with tough games at Dayton and St. Joe's to open 2018.

PAST BALLOTS

Week 1 (Preseason) Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7

MY TOP 25

1. Villanova (Last week: 1)

2. Michigan State (2)

3. Duke (3)

4. Arizona State (5)

5. West Virginia (8)

6. Xavier (9)

7. Texas A&M (10)

8. TCU (11)

9. North Carolina (4)

10. Wichita State (12)

11. Virginia (13)

12. Kansas (14)

13. Baylor (16)

14. Seton Hall (17)

15. Tennessee (18)

16. Purdue (19)

17. Miami (7)

18. Oklahoma (20)

19. Texas Tech (21)

20. Kentucky (6)

21. Gonzaga (15)

22. Notre Dame (22)

23. Cincinnati (23)

24. Arizona (24)

25. Clemson (25)

OUT None

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @Luke DeCock

  Comments