UNC drops two slots in Katz's early top 25

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
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Leave it to UCLA -- home of North Carolina transfers Larry Drew II and David and Travis Wear -- to help push the Tar Heels down two slots, to No. 13, in ESPN.com senior basketball writer Andy Katz's updated way-too-early Top 25. (Actually, Drew and the Wears had little to do with the Bruins climbing to No. 7 in Katz's Tuesday rankings. But the No. 1 recruiting class, led by the recent additions of Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker, did.)

Katz ranked N.C. State, which was bolstered by the return of forward C.J. Leslie, at No. 6. Duke is No. 15. And Florida State and Maryland are listed in the "don't sleep on" group.

Here's what he wrote about the three ranked ACC teams:
6. NC State

How did this happen so fast? Is North Carolina State really the ACC favorite? Why not. North Carolina and Duke are taking on serious losses, and the Wolfpack overachieved under Mark Gottfried to get to the Sweet 16. It took a little while, but C.J. Leslie announced he's returning, which basically means the entire team returns. In addition, Gottfried has one of the top recruiting classes in the country coming in with Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. This program has a lot to look forward to.

13. North Carolina

The Tar Heels were gutted by early-entry departures from Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes and John Henson. Tyler Zeller was already leaving because he was a senior. But that just opens more minutes for Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo, who made Tar Heel fans breathe a little easier with his decision to return. Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson lead a top-10 recruiting class and will step in and deepen this team. Let's not kid ourselves: There's still plenty of talent on hand.

15. Duke

The Blue Devils lost Austin Rivers after one season. Miles Plumlee also departs. But Miles' brother, Mason, surprised some by returning. Huge. Duke also brings back Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins and yet another Plumlee, Marshall. If Rasheed Sulaimon delivers as an impact player, the Blue Devils will still be an ACC contender.

Thoughts?

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

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