2017 North Carolina Power Rankings: Blue Devils back on top after beating UNC

North State Journals sports staff picks their top college basketball teams from the state each week

Mark Dolejs—USA Today Sports
Duke Blue Devils forward Harry Giles (1) reacts after dunking the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It took nearly one month, but the Blue Devils are back on top. All it took was one statement win over rival North Carolina, previously the No. 1 team on the North Carolina Power Rankings.The Tar Heels didn’t fall far, though. UNC moves to No. 2 on the list with similar names behind it. But just two weeks removed from being the No. 3 on the list, the Devils have used a five-game win streak following the NC State loss to take over the top spot.With the fifth week of conference play wrapped up, here’s a look at the top 10 teams in the state, according to North State Journal sportswriters R. Cory Smith, Brett Friedlander and Shawn Krest.1. Duke (30)Last Week: 2After nearly a month outside of the top spot, Duke is the unanimous choice for the No. 1 team in the state after another two wins in ACC play. Last week didn’t feature just any two wins, though, as the Blue Devils knocked off the previously No. 1 Tar Heels in Cameron before handling Clemson at home.Duke is rolling lately with five straight wins thanks to fantastic play from Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard as of late. While the star-studded recruiting class has taken a little longer to develop, Jayson Tatum is the lone standout and made his presence felt with a monstrous dunk against UNC.2. North Carolina (27)Last Week: 1The Tar Heels only had one opportunity to prove themselves last week and fell well short of taking down the rival Blue Devils. Despite a back-and-forth contest, Duke pulled away late to cruise to an 86-78 win in the first matchup in the Battle of the Blues.At 9-3 in the ACC, Carolina still stands alone at the top of the ACC despite the Duke loss. The Heels have a game against lowly NC State on Wednesday, the remainder of the February schedule features four top 15 teams in the final five matchups.3. UNCW (24)Last Week: 3Just when it appeared UNCW was an unstoppable force again in the CAA, the Seahawks dropped another conference game against Elon. The showings against Delaware and James Madison, however, helped keep UNCW at No. 3 on this week’s list.With a full repertoire of offensive weapons in Denzel Ingram, Chris Flemmings, C.J. Bryce and Devontae Cacok, Kevin Keatts still has the best team in the CAA. But if the recent trend continues, making it back to the NCAA Tournament doesn’t appear to be a lock anymore.4. Queens (21)Last Week: 4The No. 6 team at the Division II level is the No. 4 team in the N.C. Power Rankings yet again this week. Queens University of Charlotte got some redemption last week with an 86-79 victory over Wingate, the only team to beat the Royals this season.That wasn’t enough of a statement, though, as Queens then promptly curb stomped Mars Hill by a final of 119-78 over the weekend. With just four games from now until the SAC Tournament, the Royals still have just one loss and a shot at the regular season title.5. NC Central (16)Last Week: 5A nine-game winning streak keeps NC Central in the top five for another week following two more blowout wins in the MEAC Conference. The Eagles survived a three-game home stretch with three convincing victories prior to downing South Carolina State by 23 points in Durham.Patrick Cole is putting together a ridiculous senior campaign with 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Equipped with two great guards in Cole and Dajuan Graf, the Eagles should blaze their way through the rest of the MEAC schedule with no teams above the .500 mark.6. Pfeiffer (13)Last Week: 6The Falcons keep soaring through the Conference Carolinas with 10 straight wins, with their last loss coming more than one month ago. Pfeiffer faces off with Limestone on Saturday, the lone team to beat it in the last 13 games, with the conference title potentially on the line.7. Wake Forest (12)Last Week: 8Wake Forest moves up one spot this week after going 1-1 against Notre Dame and NC State. The Deacs swept the season series with the Wolfpack and now has a great shot of finishing at or above .500 in the ACC for the first time since in the 2009-10 season.8. UNC Asheville (10)Last Week: 9UNC Asheville just keeps pummeling lower teams in the Big South, but proved its mettle on Thursday with a win over Winthrop. The Bulldogs remain atop the Big South, with Liberty — who they face to close out the season — tied for first place with just four games remaining.9. UNC Greensboro (4)Last Week: NRThe end of January through the beginning of February brought a tough stretch for the Spartans, who lost three games in a row. But after two straight wins on the road, UNCG finds itself back in the N.C. Power Rankings with a huge matchup against Furman looming on Saturday.10. Guilford (3)Last Week: 7Guilford drops three spots this week due to a 26-point loss at Roanoke before blowing out Randolph-Macon on Saturday. Though the Quakers dropped a second conference game, they are still 19-4 with two games left to cross the 20-win threshold for the first time since the 2009-10 season.Also Listed: UNC Pembroke (2)