North Carolina State has been one of college basketball’s biggest surprises, passing nearly every big test so far.
The 15th-ranked Wolfpack will get perhaps the toughest one yet on Tuesday, facing No. 12 North Carolina.
“We haven’t really talked about the buzz a lot,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keats said. “I try to keep, not just this team, but all of my teams in the moment. Obviously, I’m not naive. I understand our guys read social media and they understand everything about what’s going on. But from a coaching standpoint, we just talked about concentrating on personnel and being the best version that we can be.”
N.C. State (13-1, 1-0 ACC) has one loss, by four at then-No. 22 Wisconsin, and has a win over No. 7 Auburn on its resume. The Wolfpack opened ACC play with an 87-82 win over Miami last week for their best start since the 1973-74 team won the national title.
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Not bad for a team picked to finish eighth in the ACC.
“Going to their place, we know it’s going to be a different battle,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
The Tar Heels (11-3, 1-0) have rolled over the teams they were expected to beat, had mixed results against the biggest names on their schedule.
North Carolina lost a close game to Texas in Las Vegas, was blown out by No. 7 Michigan and lost to No. 19 Kentucky in Chicago. The Tar Heels also beat No. 4 Gonzaga in Chapel Hill and opened ACC play with a lopsided win at Pittsburgh last week.
The matchup with N.C. State should be a fast one. Both teams average more than 89 points per game and are in the top 12 of KenPom’s offensive efficiency.
“I don’t mind playing an up and down game,” Williams said. “Shoot, I love it.”
North Carolina plays Louisville on Saturday.
HURTING JAYHAWKS: Kansas’ bid for a 15th straight Big 12 title took a big hit over the weekend, when big man Udoka Azubuike was lost for the season to a wrist injury.
The Jayhawks (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) have already been without sophomore forward Silvio De Souza after he was connected to an FBI probe into college basketball recruiting and the loss of Azubuike leaves a big hole in their frontcourt.
Kansas lost to Iowa State, which moved into the AP Top 25 on Monday, last week and has a tough test on Wednesday, facing No. 25 TCU. The Jayhawks also play at Baylor on Saturday.
JUMPIN’ JOHNNIES: No. 24 St. John’s (14-1, 2-1 Big East) is off to its best start since 1985-86 and moved into the AP Top 25 this week for the first time in more than four years.
Coming off wins over No. 16 Marquette and Georgetown, the Red Storm’s road gets a little tougher on Tuesday with a road game against defending national champion Villanova. They also play DePaul Saturday at home.
DAZZLING DUKE: Duke remained atop the AP Top 25 for the third straight week after beating Clemson in its ACC opener last week.
The Blue Devils’ bid to stay No. 1 will go through Tallahassee on Saturday.
After facing Wake Forest on Tuesday, Duke (12-1) heads South to face No. 13 Florida State. The Seminoles dropped four spots in this week’s poll after struggling offensive in a loss to No. 4 Virginia, but have the type of length and athleticism to matchup with the Blue Devils’ talented freshmen.
Florida State faces Miami on Wednesday.
COUGARS’ RUN: No. 17 Houston is one of three remaining undefeated Division I teams, with No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Virginia.
The Cougars (15-0, 2-0 AAC) face what may be the biggest hurdle to their undefeated season on Saturday, when they play Wichita State. The Shockers (7-7, 0-2) are having a down year, but still can be a dangerous team for Houston. The Cougars face Temple on Wednesday.
RED RAIDERS RISING: Texas Tech could be the biggest threat to end Kansas’ run for another Big 12 title.
The Red Raiders (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) are one of the nation’s top defensive teams and have lost just once, to top-ranked Duke at Madison Square Garden.
Texas Tech grinded out two wins last week against West Virginia and Kansas State, allowing less than 60 points in both games.
The Red Raiders have a tough slate this week, facing No. 23 Oklahoma in Lubbock on Tuesday, then Texas in Austin on Saturday.