Duke, NC State, UNC all in Top 10 in final AP basketball poll

WTVD logo
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Duke, NC State, UNC all in Top 10 in final AP basketball poll
Tobacco Road is well represented with all three Triangle teams finishing in the Top 10 of the final Associated Press men's basketball poll.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- All season long, the pundits said Atlantic Coast Conference basketball was on the decline. but when the dust settled, the ACC showed it was still a force on the hoops landscape, with a team in the Final Four, three in the Elite Eight and four in the Sweet 16.

The cherry on top? Four ACC schools ranked in the top 15 spots in the final Associated Press Top 25 men's college basketball poll, including all three Triangle schools in the top 10.

It's the first time that's happened.

North Carolina finished seventh in the rankings, Duke ninth, and ACC champion NC State was ranked No. 10.

Duke started the year as preseason No. 2. Though by most measures it was a successful season for the Blue Devils, there were no titles collected in 2023-24. The team finished second in the regular season, lost to NC State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, then lost again to the Wolfpack in the Elite Eight with a trip to the Final Four on the line. They also lost both regular-season meetings with North Carolina.

Duke regrouped to win three games in the NCAA tournament, including a victory over No. 1-seed Houston to advance to the Blue Devils' 24th Elite Eight. The No. 9 ranking marked the 40th time the Blue Devils have appeared in the top 10 of the final AP poll, representing 53% of all final polls dating to 1949.

For the Tar Heels, it was a redemptive season, even though it ended in Sweet 16 disappointment. A year after a catastrophic season where UNC became the first preseason No. 1 to fail to make the NCAA tournament since expansion -- UNC regrouped and started this season as No. 19 in the poll. The Tar Heels steadily worked their way up the poll, sweeping rivals Duke and NC State in the regular season en route to finishing atop the ACC standings.

The postseason was less kind as the Tar Heels fell to the Wolfpack in the ACC championship game and had their season ended by Alabama in the Sweet 16.

No one, outside of UConn, however, finished the season as strongly as the Wolfpack. After a pedestrian 17-14 regular season, the Pack went on a postseason run that will forever be etched in school lore -- becoming the first ACC team to win five games in five days to capture the ACC Tournament crown. They then followed that up by running off four more wins in the NCAA tournament to reach the Final Four before losing to eventual national runner-up Purdue.

The magical March may well have saved coach Kevin Keatts' job and in fact, earned him a contract extension and bonuses. Keatts earned a $100,000 bonus for the top-10 finish, bringing his total bonuses to $400,000 for the postseason.

UConn, of course, finished atop the final poll following its run to the first back-to-back national championship in 17 years.

The Huskies (37-3) topped all 58 ballots Tuesday, coming roughly 12 hours after they beat Purdue 75-60 in the title game. That win allowed UConn to become the first men's repeat champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007, as well as joining the Gators and Duke (1991 and 1992) as the only back-to-back champs since UCLA won seven straight titles under John Wooden from 1967-73.

"I just think it's the best two-year run I think in a very, very long time just because of everything we lost from last year's team," UConn coach Dan Hurley said after the win.

The Boilermakers (34-5) were next at No. 2 as they nearly matched Virginia in 2019 with an incredible turnaround. The Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in UMBC in 2018 before winning the title the next year. Purdue has the only other 16-vs-1 upset loss, to Fairleigh Dickinson last year, but followed that by coming within a win of the title, too.

Houston and Alabama - which reached its first Final Four - were next in a tie for No. 3, followed by Tennessee at No. 5.

UConn ultimately spent eight weeks at No. 1 this season, while its lowest ranking was sixth in the preseason poll.

The Huskies spent six straight weeks from mid-January into late February at No. 1, fell to No. 3 on Feb. 26 after a loss at Creighton, then had two weeks at No. 2 before returning to No. 1 for the final pre-tournament poll on March 18.

Purdue had been within range of the Huskies all season in what became largely a clear top tier. The Boilermakers, led by a two-time AP national player of the year in 7-foot-4 Zach Edey, spent five weeks at No. 1, nine weeks at No. 2 and was never ranked lower than fourth.

Once in the tournament, the Huskies won six tournament games by a combined 23.3 points, with the closest call being a 14-point win against the Crimson Tide in the national semifinals. Ultimately, UConn and Purdue ranked 1-2 six times this season.


Regional finalist Illinois was next at No. 6, followed by North Carolina, Iowa State and Duke - all of which reached the second weekend of the NCAAs. Then came NC State, which rode its first Final Four run since 1983 as an 11-seed to check in at No. 10 after being unranked all season.


The Southeastern Conference led the way with five ranked teams in the final poll, including No. 18 Auburn, No. 20 Kentucky and No. 25 South Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Conference had four, with No. 14 Clemson joining the North Carolina-based trio in the top 10 after its run to the Elite Eight. The Big 12 also had four, including No. 16 Baylor and No. 19 Kansas.

The Big East had three with No. 11 Marquette and No. 13 Creighton joining UConn. The Big Ten, Pac-12, West Coast and Mountain West conferences each had two, while the Atlantic 10 had one.


The poll celebrated its 75th anniversary earlier this year, and this marked the 20th season in which there were at least five different teams to reach No. 1 - the record is seven in 1983 and 2020 - since that January 1949 launch.

Preseason No. 1 Kansas spent three weeks at No. 1, matched by Houston and followed by Arizona with two weeks.

In all, 52 teams were ranked at some point this year, making this only the fourth season in poll history to have at least 50 different teams make the poll. Last year marked the record with 54, while there were 53 in both 2010 and 2015.


The top 25 teams in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, and total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

Record Pts Pvs

1. UConn (58) 37-3 1450 1

2. Purdue 34-5 1386 3

T3. Alabama 25-12 1216 19

T3. Houston 32-5 1216 2

5. Tennessee 27-9 1203 6

6. Illinois 27-9 1099 10

7. N Carolina 29-8 1046 5

8. Iowa State 29-8 1008 4

9. Duke 27-9 980 13

10. NC State 26-15 927 NR

11. Marquette 27-10 827 8

12. Arizona 27-9 824 9

13. Creighton 25-10 800 11

14. Clemson 24-12 748 NR

15. Gonzaga 27-8 683 18

16. Baylor 24-11 536 14

17. S Diego St 26-11 504 24

18. Auburn 27-8 465 7

19. Kansas 23-11 268 17

20. Kentucky 23-10 244 12

21. St Mary's 26-8 206 15

22. Utah State 28-7 183 20

23. Wash St 25-10 140 25

24. Dayton 25-8 119 NR

25. S Carolina 26-8 110 16

Others receiving votes: Texas A&M 87, Oregon 77, Colorado 75, BYU 73, Texas 62, J Madison 57, Gr Canyon 37, Seton Hall 36, Wisconsin 27, N'western 23, Texas Tech 19, Indiana St 18, Miami (FL) 13, Mich State 12, Duquesne 9, Yale 7, Arkansas 6, N Mexico 6, Colo State 5, Maryland 5, Florida 4, Rutgers 2, Oakland 1, Nevada 1.

The Associated Press and ESPN contributed.


Related Video from ESPN