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How UNC Can Avoid the Dreaded Twelfth Seed

UNC isn't the only Triangle school pulling themselves out of a slump lately. N.C. State has won their last two, a fourteen point rout over Wake and a 71-66 win today over Miami. That last game leaves State, UNC, and Miami all tied for last place at 4-10. If the season ended today, UNC would be in good shape, as their two victories over the Wolfpack would be the tie breaker over State's 1-2 and Miami's 0-1 collective records. The season doesn't end today, though.

State's last two games are at Virginia Tech and at home against Boston College. The BC game alone should be an easy enough win to keep the Wolfpack out of cellar. UNC surely can't count on them to lose both and guarantee that Carolina won't be twelfth. Which makes the Miami game critical. A win, no matter what happens elsewhere, ensures Carolina wins any tiebreakers between State, Miami, or even Boston College. A loss requires State to lose out to keep them out of last.

But what's the best a win over the Hurricanes can accomplish? Provided they don't also upset Duke, that would leave UNC with a 5-11 record. It's possible that State, Miami, and one of either Boston College or Virginia could end up with the same record. Here's how the tiebreakers work out:

UNC, State, Miami and BC are all 5-11: This means State beats BC on Sunday. Among this group, Carolina would have a 3-1 record, as would Boston College. State would be 2-2, and Miami 0-4. The next tie breaker is record versus the top team in the ACC, and on down through the standings after that. Those standings are pretty fluid right now, but UNC's best win is over Wake, and BC's over Clemson. Whoever ends up higher determines if UNC is seeded ninth or tenth.

UNC, State, Miami and Virginia are all 5-11: This means UVa loses their last three. Considering they're already on a six game losing streak, this isn't particularly unlikely. UNC is again 3-1, along with Virginia. Miami is 1-3 and State brings up the rear at 1-4. Virginia's best win is over Georgia Tech; that will again determine if the Heels are ninth or tenth.

UNC, Miami and BC are all 5-11: This assumes State wins out. Among the three teams remaining, BC is 3-0, UNC 1-1, and Miami 0-3. Carolina is seeded 11th.

UNC, Miami and Virginia are all 5-11: Same deal with State. The Cavaliers go 2-1, UNC 1-1, and Miami 1-2. Another 11th seed for UNC.

UNC, State, and BC are all 5-11: This assumes Miami loses to FSU as well, and finishes in last place. Among these three, UNC is 2-1, BC 1-1, and State 1-2. UNC gets the ninth seed.

UNC, State, and Virginia are all 5-11: Virginia is 3-0, UNC is 2-1, and N.C. State 0-4. UNC is tenth.

State wins out and Miami loses out: No matter whether UNC ends up tied with BC or Virginia or neither, they're a solid 11th.

So there you have it. Print it out, stick it to your fridge, and figure out who you have to root for this week. A win over Duke doesn't help the Heels that much, by the way. With Boston College playing Virginia, one of those teams will also finish at worst 6-10, and both teams hold tiebreakers over Carolina. Only if State also makes it to 6-10 do the tiebreakers get interesting. More on that later, once I get the taste of rooting for State out of my mouth.