Monday, April 15, 2024

College basketball power rankings: North Carolina, Kentucky on the rise again as March arrives

The Tar Heels and Wildcats, at their best, feel like Final Four teams

Kim O’Reilly, CBS Sports

Kentucky and North Carolina aren’t the most trustworthy teams in college basketball, but they are two of the most captivating as March arrives with parity resounding in spots 4-15 of the national pecking order. The Tar Heels dropped three of five at one point in ACC play, only to rebound with three straight wins to position themselves atop the league standings entering the home stretch.

The Wildcats also dealt with their struggles in league play but have won four of their last five while continuing to offer tantalizing flashes of offensive greatness. At their best, it’s easy to imagine UNC and Kentucky as Final Four teams. At their worst, either could be susceptible to a first-round NCAA Tournament upset. Just look at UNC’s losses to Georgia Tech and Syracuse, or Kentucky’s losses to UNC Wilmington and LSU, as evidence.

For now, both are grinding out wins against league foes with the help of elite guard play, and both are massive risers in this week’s power rankings. The Wildcats have two manageable home games against Arkansas and Vanderbilt before closing at Tennessee on March 9. UNC will also be heavily favored in home contests against NC State and Notre Dame before closing at Duke on March 9.

Thus, it’s reasonable to assume that the stock on Kentucky and North Carolina will continue to rise over the next week as the best month of college basketball dawns.

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