Selection Sunday is almost here, and with it, opportunities will come and go for the NCAA tournament. No AP preseason No. 1 team has lost more games than 2022-23 North Carolina. The mediocre Tar Heels are now on the verge of making an even more shameful history.
After falling to Virginia 68-59 in the ACC quarterfinals on Thursday night, North Carolina probably lost all hope of getting into the NCAA tournament at a later date. The Tar Heels don’t have any more chances to improve their resume, which doesn’t stack up well against other teams in the bubble.
North Carolina will enter Selection Sunday with a 20-13 overall record and few notable wins. The Tar Heels have only won one Quad 1 game, a home victory over Virginia on February 25.
In non-conference play, North Carolina beat Michigan and Ohio State, but those victories appeared to be more helpful in December than now. The Buckeyes finished last in the Big Ten, and the Wolverines are likely on the edge of the NCAA tournament bubble.
The Tar Heels entered the ACC tournament needing a deep run to maintain a realistic hope of securing an NCAA bid after their regular-season finale defeat to Duke, a rival. They beat 10th-seeded Boston College 85-61, but second-seeded Virginia held off every North Carolina run after Virginia took a 10-point lead midway through the second half.
Despite hyped college basketball teams consistently underperforming, North Carolina is undoubtedly the most disappointing preseason No. 1 team. One team in the modern era of men’s college basketball.
Of every single No. 1 since 1985, when the field was increased to 64, none failed to make the NCAA tournament. Nearly all of those teams have been 3-seeds or better. Only in the 2013–14 Kentucky squad didn’t earn at least a No. 5 seed, and the Wildcats, led by Julius Randle, overcame a subpar regular season with an out-of-nowhere run from a No. 8 seed in the national championship game.
A few months ago, it would not have been easy to comprehend North Carolina’s exit from the NCAA tournament. Then, the Tar Heels appeared poised to continue where they left off last year when they ended Mike Krzyzewski’s storied career in the Final Four and nearly won the national title two nights later, with all but one starter returning and a prized transfer filling that vacancy.
North Carolina’s Problems? Everything, And The NCAA Committee Will See Just That.
The Tar Heels lost their cohesiveness and tenacity in March of last year. The pieces also didn’t seem to fit together as well. Armando Bacot remained one of the best big men in college basketball, and Leaky Black remained an elite glue guy. However, North Carolina was missing Brady Manek’s 3-point shooting, toughness, and streak-shooting, and R.J. Davis and Caleb Love lost too many games to the Tar Heels.
North Carolina shot 322nd nationally this season, shooting just over 31% from behind the arc. Pete Nance, a transfer from Northwestern, was not even close to matching Manek’s consistent 40.3% 3-point shooting.
A year ago, North Carolina was on edge through February before exploding for six weeks. So many people waited for a similar run to end this season, but these Tar Heels lacked it.