It's not just North Carolina and N.C. State who are struggling this season. Things are pretty bad throughout - throughout the state, that is.
While Duke and Wake Forest are making some noise, they don't have a lot of company.
The exceptions appear to be Charlotte, which is battling Xavier, Temple and Rhode Island for the top spot in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In the Southern Conference race, Western Carolina is closing in on the 20-win mark and will be among the favorites to win the league tournament for an automatic NCAA bid. Campbell also is emerging as a pleasant surprise in the Atlantic Sun.
But then there's East Carolina, which is again struggling to avoid last place in the Conference USA standings. N.C. Central already has hit the 20-loss mark. Speeding in that same direction are UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, N.C. A&T, Elon, Gardner-Webb and Winston-Salem State. Davidson, without a Curry to carry the offense, will be fortunate to finish above .500. The same goes for Appalachian State, UNC Asheville and High Point.
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The overall collection probably isn't at a historic low, but it has to be close.
There still may be a decent chance for Duke to end the season among the nation's best teams, but there's little hope to match some of the banner postseason showings for the state:
1977: Charlotte and North Carolina both reached the Final Four in Atlanta and came within seconds of meeting in the NCAA championship game. Plus, Wake Forest came close, losing to eventual national champion Marquette in the Midwest Regional final.
1983: The Wolfpack wins it all, beating Virginia en route to the Final Four. North Carolina reaches the East Regional championship game.
1985: This was the year of the Big East, with Georgetown, Villanova and St. John's all reaching the Final Four and the Wildcats upsetting the Hoyas in the championship game. But Duke, N.C. State and UNC also combined for a 7-3 NCAA Tournament record.
1986: Duke reaches the Final Four in Dallas, N.C. State reaches the Midwest Regional final (but loses to Kansas) and North Carolina reaches the third round of the West Regional before losing by three points to eventual national champion Louisville.
1991: Duke and North Carolina reach the Final Four in Indianapolis, as the Blue Devils win the first of two straight national titles.
1998: North Carolina reaches the Final Four in San Antonio, while Duke loses by two points to eventual champion Kentucky in the South Regional final.
2008: North Carolina reaches the Final Four in San Antonio, and Davidson loses by two points to eventual champion Kansas in the Midwest Regional final.
With all those peaks, a down season now and then can't be seen as the end of the world.