The ACC/Big Ten Challenge gives us at least one more compelling high-profile matchup before the event suffers a death via television networks and ceases to exist: North Carolina at Indiana on Wednesday night at 9:15 p.m. ET. The get-in price on the secondary market is nearly $200 before fees, according to Stubhub.com.
"I know [my players are] excited about having an opportunity to compete against a really good Indiana team," said North Carolina coach Hubert Davis. "[They're] looking forward to the challenge."
North Carolina enters this blue-blood showdown having lost its preseason No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll thanks to back-to-back losses to Iowa State and Alabama. The Tar Heels are now 5-2 with zero notable wins. It's been a less-than-ideal start to the season, inarguably. Meantime, Indiana is 6-0 with a victory at Xavier serving as the highlight of its resume. That's among the reasons the Hoosiers are 5-point favorites and thus expected to soon extend North Carolina's losing streak to three games.
And yet I mostly remain unconcerned about UNC.
Am I surprised the Tar Heels are struggling again early? Honestly, yes. But it's important to remember that this coach (Hubert Davis) and these players (Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, Leaky Black, RJ Davis) have already proven they can be great -- evidence being last season's trip to the national title game, which, contrary to what many have suggested, wasn't merely the result of "a hot run through the NCAA Tournament."
Truth is, the Tar Heels got really good several weeks before the NCAA Tournament even started. They went 6-1 in the seven games leading into Selection Sunday, then went 5-1 in the NCAA Tournament. That's an 11-2 record over a seven-week period in which UNC performed like a top-three team in the sport, according to BartTorvik.com.
Will UNC get back to that level of play?
As always, we'll see.
But it would be foolish, at this point, to assume the Tar Heels can't or won't again emerge as legitimate title contenders considering how they flipped a switch last February -- and we still have two more months until February. So, I'm not comfortable ruling out anything quite yet. Call it a lesson learned from last season.
As for Wednesday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings, I pushed Maryland up to No. 20 after the Terrapins destroyed Louisville 79-54 on Tuesday to improve to 7-0 with seven double-digit victories, and I moved Mississippi State into the rankings largely because the Bulldogs are undefeated with a neutral-court win over the Marquette team that blasted Baylor 96-70 on Tuesday. Simply put, it would be intellectually inconsistent to rank Marquette and Baylor without also ranking the Mississippi State team that's 7-0 with a win over the Marquette team that just smashed Baylor.
So, Mississippi State is now No. 21, Marquette is now No. 22, and Baylor is now No. 23 -- one spot ahead of the UCLA team it beat last week. All that movement -- Maryland going up to No. 20 and Mississippi State and Marquette entering the Top 25 And 1 at No. 21 and No. 22, respectively -- pushed UCLA, Auburn, San Diego State, Ohio State and Texas Tech down three spots each, no fault of their own. That means Ohio State and Texas Tech are now what amounts to No. 27 and No. 28 in the Top 25 And 1.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Sir'Jabari Rice finished with 19 points and five assists in Saturday's 91-54 win over UT Rio Grande Valley. The Longhorns' next game is Thursday against Creighton.||--||19-5|
|Marcus Sasser finished with 25 points and four assists in Tuesday's 100-52 win over Norfolk State. The Cougars' next game is Saturday against Saint Mary's.||--||22-2|
|Zach Edey finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds in Sunday's 75-56 win over Duke. The Boilermakers' next game is Wednesday at Florida State.||--||22-2|
|Oumar Ballo finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday's 81-79 win over Creighton. The Wildcats' next game is Thursday against Utah.||--||21-3|
|Reece Beekman finished with 18 points and five assists in Tuesday's 70-68 win at Michigan. The Cavaliers' next game is Saturday against Florida State.||--||17-4|
|Tristen Newton finished with 13 points and four rebounds in Sunday's 71-53 win over Iowa State. The Huskies' next game is Thursday against Oklahoma State.||--||18-6|
|Creighton allowed Arizona to shoot 52.9% from the field in Wednesday's 81-79 loss to the Wildcats. The Bluejays' next game is Thursday at Texas.||--||15-8|
|Ricky Council finished with 27 points and three rebounds in Monday's 74-61 win over Troy. The Razorbacks' next game is Saturday against San Jose State.||--||16-7|
|Julian Strawther finished with 23 points and nine rebounds in Sunday's 88-84 win over Xavier. The Zags' next game is Friday against Baylor.||--||19-5|
|Mark Sears finished with 24 points and five assists in Sunday's 103-101 4OT win over North Carolina. The Crimson Tide's next game is Saturday against South Dakota State.||--||20-3|
|Tyson Walker finished with 16 points and five rebounds in Sunday's 78-77 win over Portland. The Spartans' next game is Wednesday at Notre Dame.||--||14-9|
|Antonio Reeves finished with 18 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 60-41 win over Bellarmine. The Wildcats' next game is Sunday against Michigan.||--||16-7|
|Terrence Shannon finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 73-44 win over Syracuse. The Illini's next game is Friday at Maryland.||--||16-7|
|Santiago Vescovi finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Friday's 64-50 win over Kansas. The Vols' next game is Wednesday against McNeese State.||--||19-4|
|Jalen Wilson finished with 22 points and six assists in Monday's 87-55 win over Texas Southern. The Jayhawks' next game is Thursday against Seton Hall.||--||19-5|
|Tamar Bates finished with 22 points and four assists in Friday's 90-51 win over Jackson State. The Hoosiers' next game is Wednesday against North Carolina.||--||16-7|
|Duke missed 17 of the 19 3-pointers it attempted in Sunday's 75-56 loss to Purdue. The Blue Devils' next game is Wednesday against Ohio State.||1||17-7|
|Caleb Grill missed all five shots he attempted in Sunday's 71-53 loss to UConn. The Cyclones' next game is Wednesday against North Dakota.||1||16-6|
|North Carolina missed 16 of the 23 3-pointers it attempted in Sunday's 103-101 4OT loss to Alabama. The Tar Heels' next game is Wednesday at Indiana.||1||15-8|
|Donta Scott finished with 18 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 79-54 win at Louisville. The Terrapins' next game is Friday against Illinois.||4||16-7|
|Tolu Smith finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in Monday's 74-54 win over Omaha. The Bulldogs' next game is Saturday against Mississippi Valley State.||NR||15-8|
|Olivier-Maxence Prosper finished with 24 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 96-70 win over Baylor. The Golden Eagles' next game is Saturday against Wisconsin.||NR||19-5|
|Baylor finished with 20 turnovers and 12 assists in Tuesday's 96-70 loss at Marquette. The Bears' next game is Friday against Gonzaga.||6||17-6|
|Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished with 27 points and seven rebounds in Sunday's 81-60 win over Bellarmine. The Bruins' next game is Thursday at Stanford.||3||19-4|
|Wendell Green Jr. finished with 22 points and four rebounds in Sunday's 65-60 win over Saint Louis. The Tigers' next game is Friday against Colgate.||3||17-6|
San Diego St
|Nathan Mensah finished with 18 points and six rebounds in Tuesday's 72-69 win over UC Irvine. The Aztecs' next game is Friday against Occidental.||3||18-5|
In: Mississippi State, Marquette
Out: Ohio State, Texas Tech