UNC’s NCAA Tournament resume takes a tumble, postseason possibilities in a precarious position

Two steps forward, one step back. North Carolina basketball responded to a blowout home loss to Duke with back-to-back wins over Clemson and Florida State. UNC erupted on offense vs. FSU: 12-of-28 3-point attempts, 1.25 points per possession. For a moment, the Tar Heels could feel good about their standing for the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

The one step back, however, was a big one.

Down 17 points at halftime, North Carolina feel at home to Pittsburgh, arguably the worst team in the ACC, 76-67. After the game, Pitt coach Jeff Capel spoke his mind.

North Carolina’s offense dried up; Caleb Love and Brady Manek shot a combined 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, which is a recipe for disaster. Once again, Hubert Davis saw his defense crater, too. The Panthers scored 1.11 points per possession in this game. In terms of efficiency, this is the second-best performance Pitt’s post this season. (1.13 points per possession vs. Virginia Tech, back on Feb. 5.)

Before the game, UNC entered the evening with a solid-yet-imperfect resume:

    • NET: 37
    • RPI: 39
    • KenPom: 39
    • Projected Seed: 11

With the loss, North Carolina falls to 18-8 (10-5 ACC); the defense now ranks outside the top 100 nationally, too. The defeat to Pittsburgh is a Quad 3 loss, which is a big blow; UNC is now 7-1 in Quad 3 games.

Moreover, North Carolina remains winless in Quad 1 games. UNC is 0-5 in Quad 1 games; however, that projects to be 0-7, as currently constituted.

Here’s an updated look at the resume:

North Carolina hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since March 24, 2019. Nassir Little scored 20 points vs. Washington’s zone defense, while Coby White and Cam Johnson combined for 30 points and seven 3-pointers. Leaky Black, the only current UNC player who remains from that game, played three minutes.

If Davis and UNC are to alter the course, there’s little time to make some big moves, especially after this type of stinky defeat.

Saturday’s matchup in Blacksburg becomes a massive game — for both parties. After that, UNC can’t afford to trip up vs. Louisville, (at) NC State and Syracuse. The regular season finale at Duke is another Quad 1 opportunity. North Carolina will enter that game is a sizable underdog.

The ACC Tournament looms, but that’s a bit of a black box in terms of resume opportunities. However, if UNC could stack a handful of wins between now and the end of the ACC Tournament, that — along with its powerful brand name — could be enough to land on the right side of the bubble.


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