Tar Heels slip again in power rankings from The Athletic

It was a much-needed week off for the North Carolina Tar Heels as they get ready for the stretch run of the season. With five games left and the ACC Tournament, the Tar Heels are hoping to build their NCAA Tournament resume.

And that stretch begins on Saturday with a tough road game at Virginia.

The Tar Heels have had their struggles in Charlottesville, not winning there since the 2011-12 season. A win on Saturday will help UNC keep at least a share of the ACC regular season lead but a loss puts another dent in their resume. But as UNC gets set for that tough road game, they have fallen in the latest power rankings from The Athletic.

North Carolina is now ranked No. 9 in the power rankings, falling for the second straight week:

North Carolina’s once-elite defense has slipped since its early conference dominance; per Bart Torvik, the Tar Heels are just 61st in adjusted defensive efficiency over the last month, even if they’re still top-15 for the entire season. In the process, Hubert Davis’ team has given back the healthy lead it built in the (better-than-the-haters-say) ACC. UNC still leads the league courtesy of its tiebreaker over Duke … which is why these teams’ regular-season finale is the only answer here. That game will almost certainly determine if Davis wins his first ACC regular-season or conference title as head coach. If the Tar Heels can hang on over their last five games, it would be quite the accomplishment. They go to Virginia — where they haven’t won since 2012 — on Saturday, before a three-game homestand and then the second Duke tilt. Cormac Ryan got back on track Saturday against Virginia Tech, dropping four 3s for the second consecutive game; him getting back to his career shooting splits — he made 35.2 percent of his 3s in four seasons at Stanford and Notre Dame, before falling to 31.7 percent this season — is paramount for UNC’s postseason chances. — Marks

The Tar Heels are the second-highest-ranked team in the ACC in the rankings, behind No. 8 Duke. The two teams will meet again in the season finale, a game that could see the ACC regular season title on the line.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire