Believe it or not, it is not as far-fetched as it sounds.
First, let's compare this team's body of work to that of the 2007 UNC team, which also came somewhat out of nowhere to grab a #1-seed:
[table id=96 /]
On paper, these teams actually look very similar. But besides the similarities between the two teams, there are also some striking similarities between their overall situations:
- In 2007, you had 2 teams from each of the Big 12 (Kansas - lock; Texas A&M - reach) and Big 10 (Ohio State - lock; Wisconsin - reach) vying for a #1-seed. This year, you have 2 teams from each of the Big East (Pitt - lock; Notre Dame - possible) and Big 10 (Ohio State - lock; Purdue - reach) vying for a #1-seed.
- In 2007, you had a non-BCS school with a great record, but questions (Memphis, SOS). This year, you have a non-BCS school with a great record, but questions (BYU, Davies).
- In 2007, you had a team in UCLA that was likely to be a #1 if they were to win their Conference Tournament. This year, you have a team in Duke that is likely to be an undeserving #1 if they were to win their Conference Tournament.
So what happened in 2007?
Well, first, Kansas and Ohio State won their conference tournaments which knocked Texas A&M and Wisconsin out of the picture for a #1. Next, UCLA lost in their conference tournament which eliminated them from consideration. And while Memphis did win the CUSA Tournament, the questions surrounding its overall body of work were still strong enough that they could not stave off the charge of both Florida and North Carolina, both of whom won their conference tournaments en route to the final two #1-seeds.
So with that in mind, what needs to happen this year for UNC to do the same?
First, and foremost, UNC needs to win the ACC Tournament, if they don't do this, then the entire conversation is moot and they are looking at a 2/3-seed. Additionally, it would be beneficial if UNC could beat Duke for a second time in the process. This will also (obviously) eliminate Duke from consideration.
Second, Ohio State, Pitt and Kansas need to win their tournaments. These three teams have basically locked up a #1-seed, so their winning will not diminish UNC's chances, but it will eliminate the possibility of Purdue, ND, or maybe Texas from sneaking into the conversation.
And third, BYU needs to lose in its conference tournament. The questions about Memphis in 2007 were not obviated because of their play in the CUSA Tournament, but they would be about BYU this year, if they were able to show that they can win without Brandon Davies. San Diego State could be a darkhorse to get a #1-seed, if they were to win the Mountain West Tourney, but they have already lost to BYU twice, and would not get a shot at a "full strength" Cougar team.
There is a lot that needs to happen for North Carolina to have a serious shot at a #1-seed, and the Heels control very little of it. Moreover, all of this could happen and it still might not be enough to get the Heels onto the top line, as a Pitt/ND matchup in the Big East Finals could very well get both teams a top-seed. But then again, stranger things have happened...