Selection Sunday is only 11 days away, meaning there is a lot to be decided until now and then. Teams on the bubble are fighting for to stay alive, while the elite teams are trying to separate themselves for better seeding. North Carolina basketball is one of those teams as many bracketologists project the Tar Heels as a number two seed.
Roy Williams’ team has won its last six games and sits pretty as the third ranked team in the country. Despite all its recent success, North Carolina still finds itself outside of the top line. Gonzaga, Virginia, Duke, Tennessee and Kentucky are the five teams that many experts believe will be on the top line.
The Tar Heels are 2-2 against those teams,including a dominant 88-72 win over Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. They beat Gonzaga earlier in the season, but the Bulldogs have been the most dominant team in the nation this season and are basically guaranteed a number one seed. Virginia is tied with North Carolina for the regular season title at 15-2, making the Cavaliers another lock for a top seed.
The Tar Heels lost to Virginia in Chapel Hill 69-61, making it almost impossible for them to claim the top spot in the ACC Tournament. That loss does not weigh down their resume, but it could prevent them from being a number one seed. North Carolina’s NET ranking, the new criteria that the selection committee will use to make the field, is at seven.
That number is lower than all the teams mentioned above and Houston, who checks in at number six. Michigan State and Michigan are right behind the Tar Heels, also putting them in play for a number one seed. For North Carolina to secure a number one seed, it has to beat Duke on Saturday.
A season sweep of the Blue Devils would not only raise the team’s NET, but also give the Tar Heels’ resume a big boost. The win would give North Carolina another Quadrant 1 win and improve its record to 26-5 on the season. A regular season record like that definitely helps, but the Tar Heels will need a little help.
Michigan State would have to beat Michigan, giving the Spartans a season sweep of their rivals. The Wolverines battered North Carolina earlier in the season, which the committee might take into account in the selection process. After beating its rival, Michigan State would have to lose in the Big Ten Tournament.
A loss in the tournament to any team outside of Michigan and Purdue would hurt the Spartans’ chances of getting a top seed, especially now with the injuries to Nick Ward and Josh Langford. North Carolina would have to win the ACC Tournament to feel safe about getting a top seed. If the Tar Heels are able to cut down the nets in Charlotte, they would have a share of the regular season title, a conference tournament title and a 29-5 record going into Selection Sunday.
That type of resume is a lock to secure a number one seed as few teams in the nation would be able to duplicate that. While Tennessee and Kentucky are also firmly in the hunt to snag a number one seed, both teams are essentially battling each other for one spot with the winner taking the top spot. The Tar Heels’ path to a number one seed is difficult, but they just have to win out to secure their spot on the top line.