Heading into Wednesday’s game against NC State, North Carolina has had by most measures a good season. They’re 21-5. They have a half game lead in the ACC. They were ranked as the best two seed when the Selection Committee released their top 16 teams last Saturday.
Over the last six games, if things go well, UNC could consolidate that two seed, maybe move up to a one. Considering the teams Carolina has to play down the stretch, things could also get flipped up in a hurry. For as well as UNC has done to pile up 21 wins, they still have so much to play for.
Through Tuesday, North Carolina was the highest ranked two seed on the Bracket Matrix, which composites all the various Bracketology outlets on the internet. However, among the over 100 outlets used in the Bracket Matrix, there is still some variation in UNC’s seeding. They’re a #2 seed in most, but there’s one that puts them as high as a #1 seed, and some that dip them as low as a #4.
Beyond that, there is also a giant grouping of teams that could conceivably pass UNC right behind them. There are 17 other teams in the Bracket Matrix that are listed as #2 seed or better in at least one outlet. The Tar Heels have to play a couple of them. The top of the sport in general seems to be a pretty big logjam this season.
There’s also some pretty big ACC implications at stake. Obviously, North Carolina would like to win the ACC regular season, because obviously that’s a good thing. However beyond that, a ACC Tournament top four seed isn’t even clinched yet.
The top seven teams in the conference are currently separated by just two games. Things would have to go very wrong for North Carolina to slip any further than seventh, but nothing other than that is assured.
Even if Carolina doesn’t end up winning the ACC regular season, just getting a double bye to the quarterfinals could be crucial.
The lowest seed in recent memory to win the ACC Tournament was #6 Maryland in 04. However, that was when the conference still had just nine teams. They only played three games to win it. With the depth of solid teams in the ACC, winning four games in four days in the tournament seems pretty unlikely.
Even if Carolina does drop a few games down the stretch, they could potentially add three quality wins to their resume in the ACC Tournament and help offset any damage done in the regular season. Dropping to the #5 seed or worse would make that a difficult task.
North Carolina’s season so far hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been pretty good. Yet after all they’ve done, they still have a whole lot to do.