With one game left on UNC's regular season schedule, the potential scenarios for next week's ACC Tournament are fairly simple. Virginia has clinched the #1 seed for the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels have three possible seed options still on the table.
UNC is the #2 seed if the Tar Heels beat Duke and Syracuse loses to Florida State.
UNC will be the #3 seed with a win over Duke and Syracuse wins against Florida State.
If UNC loses to Duke they will be the #4 seed regardless of what anyone else does.
There is a scenario where Duke loses to Wake Forest, Syracuse loses to Florida State and UNC loses to Duke creating a three way tie for second place. The tiebreaker then is based on record against the three team group which UNC loses since they would be a combined 1-2 against Syracuse and Duke. Syracuse would be the #2 seed with a 2-1 record and Duke the #3 seed with a 2-2 record.
One element of UNC's seeding is the schedule. With the way the ACC Tournament is laid out, being the #3 seed might be the worst case in terms of bouncing back the next day. According to the schedule the #3 seed plays at 9:00 PM on Friday.
Okay, stop here and let me rant a bit. Someone needs to explain to me why the ACC would announce a schedule like this? If the first game of the evening session starts at 7:00 PM then there is no way on earth the second game will start at 9:00 PM. College basketball games run for at least two hours if not longer then there is time provided for the participants of the next game to properly warm-up. Announcing a start time of two hours after the first game of the session is scheduled to tip is just plain stupid. Do better ACC. /rant
Anyway, if UNC is the #3 seed they will be playing close to 9:30 if not later which means the game will end around midnight giving the Heels roughly 15 hours before the tip of Saturday semifinal assuming UNC wins. The #2 seed is only slightly better buying an additional two-plus hours. The ideal slot(outside of being the #1 seed natch) is playing the 2:30 game on Friday since it as close to 24 hours rest as a team can get.
Of course the other factor is who UNC might play on Friday. Longtime ACC scribe Patrick Stevens has a full run down of the scenarios for the entire league. Based on his scenarios this is how the remaining 5-15 seeds could look.
#5: Clemson, Pitt
#6: Clemson, Pitt, Florida State
#7: Pitt, Florida State, NC State, Maryland
#8: Florida State, NC State, Maryland
#9: Florida State, NC State, Maryland
#10: Miami, Wake Forest
#11: Miami, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech
#12: Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech
#13: Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Boston College
#14: Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Boston College
#15: Virginia Tech
Some of these scenarios are pretty unlikely, still here are the potential Friday quarterfinal match-ups UNC could face based on seed.
#2 UNC vs #7 Pitt, Florida State, NC State, Maryland or #10 Miami, Wake Forest or #15 Virginia Tech
#3 UNC vs #6 Clemson, Pitt, Florida State or #11 Miami, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech or #14 Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Boston College
#4 UNC vs #5 Clemson, Pitt or #12 Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech or #13 Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Boston College
Barring any upsets, UNC's quarterfinal opponent will be one of Pitt, Clemson, Florida State, NC State or Maryland.
The nice thing about UNC's present situation is they have but one goal to focus on and that is to keep winning. Roy Williams often tells his players that if you work hard, play hard and win games, things like awards, standings and postseason placement tend to take care of themselves. In short, UNC-Duke has the normal high stakes that comes when those two teams meet on the hardwood with the extra bonus of ACC and possibly NCAA Tournament implications on the line.