The North Carolina Tar Heels’ NCAA Tournament case was iffy at best about six weeks ago. But they have really turned it on, going 11-2 since January 23rd. UNC will enter this week’s ACC Tournament as the No. 3 seed and after winning five consecutive games. That recent stretch included massive road victories over Virginia Tech and, sweetest of all, Duke.
This run has all but taken the Tar Heels off of the bubble, but they may not want to tempt fate with an early exit in the conference tournament. Here’s what North Carolina needs to do this week in order to secure its spot in the Big Dance.
As the No. 3 seed, UNC has earned the double-bye in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels will face either Louisville, Georgia Tech, or Virginia during Thursday’s quarterfinals. Virginia, the No. 6 seed, would offer UNC another resume-building win over a quadrant 2 team. Those teams faced off in early January in Chapel Hill, N.C., and UNC scored a 16-point triumph. If the Tar Heels win the rematch, they can rest easy on Selection Sunday, no matter what happens to them in the semifinals.
If Louisville or Georgia Tech is able to make a run to the quarters, the Tar Heels can maybe afford to lose that game, but that would be cutting it close. Basically, as long as UNC can win once this week, it should be fine for the NCAA Tournament. A semifinal loss to a team such as Virginia Tech or Notre Dame will not damage the profile too much.
What teams losing would help their cause?: There are a few other ACC teams on the bubble this week, and the Tar Heels probably wouldn’t mind seeing them drop out early. That group includes Miami, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.
And of course, the less bid steals across all conference tournaments, the better for the Tar Heels.
Will North Carolina get in?
Answer: Almost 100% yes. As long as UNC avoids losing its first game, it will be in with room to spare.