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March Madness 2017: UNC’s potential 2017 revenge tour

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Two blockbuster revenge matches are in the stars

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Miami Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina will be the number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the 16th time in school history, which also is the most number 1 seeds in NCAA history. This unveiling comes a brutal 48 hours following a collapse to Duke in the semifinal round of the ACC Tournament. Following the loss, and following Duke clinching the ACC Tournament championship (I don't want to talk about it anymore than you do, but bear with me here), many media outlets were insistent that Duke would take the number 1 seed from UNC. However, Duke is instead a number 2 seed in a region with Villanova and Virginia. If someone were ever to make up for Friday happening, it was done with this bracket.

Taking a look at UNC's bracket, it seems as though the path to the Elite 8 will be UNC's to lose. That is said with extreme caution, however, because a potential matchup against Butler can prove to be a tough task as they defeated Villanova twice this year, 66-58 in the first matchup and 74-66 in the second. If North Carolina hopes to make it to the Elite 8 alive, they have to take Butler extremely seriously should they advance past Winthrop and potential upset opponents in Minnesota and Middle Tennessee.

Should UNC make it to the Elite 8: this is where things get interesting. Kentucky and UCLA locked up the number 2 and number 3 seeds, respectively, in the south. If Kentucky can survive the trap game of Wichita State (because let's face it, does anybody ever know how good they REALLY are until they face their first NCAA Tournament test?), they will likely face UCLA in the Sweet 16.

UCLA also has an intriguing matchup against Cincinnati, a team that finished second in the AAC but lost to SMU 56-71 in the AAC Tournament championship game. UCLA will likely be favorites to advance from that matchup, which leaves UCLA and Kentucky. Kentucky seems to be firing on all cylinders at this point of the season, and as long as they can suppress UCLA's high-powered offense and Malik Monk continues to play the way he has all season I have a hard time seeing UCLA surviving.

This brings us to the true test for the Tar Heels: Kentucky. It's safe to say everyone remembers what happened in the first matchup this year. However, the X-factor for this matchup the second time around would be Theo Pinson. If all held constant, if Theo played in that game in Vegas and managed to bother Monk enough just twice on defense to miss some 3-pointers, UNC escapes Las Vegas as the winner.

This matchup would need a huge performance from Justin Jackson and Joel Berry, as well as contributions from the inside. UNC can win this matchup, however they will need a strong defensive performance the likes of the one they had against Duke in the second matchup in Chapel Hill.

Should North Carolina reach the Final Four, it is hard to say that Kansas will be the team meeting them there. Kansas has Miami, Oregon, and Louisville as potential threats to upset their potential Final Four run. Miami has been a true giant killer this year, with wins over UNC, Duke, and Virginia. Oregon was at one point considered a number 1 seed contender coming out of the PAC-12, and shared the regular season title with Arizona only to lose to the wildcats by 3 in the PAC-12 Tournament.

Louisville is coming out of the strongest conference this year with wins against both Kentucky and Duke. Louisville may have the best chance to sneak out of this region instead of Kansas, but Kansas is most certainly going to be on a mission to finally get back to the National Championship game.

Should UNC make it past whoever comes out of the Midwest, the East and West sides of the field are loaded. Villanova, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, FSU, and Arizona all could potentially meet the Tar Heels in the National Championship game. The beautiful part is a potential rematch against Villanova, or an unprecedented fourth and final around against Duke to win it all are very likely possibilities, as Villanova has continued their dominance (except against Butler), and Duke seems to be getting hot at just the right time of the season.

As long as everyone stays healthy, the defensive intensity improves, the fouls stay under control, and they don't get away from what they do best on the offensive side of the ball, North Carolina has a good, if not great chance to cut down the nets in Phoenix and hang their 7th championship banner in the rafters.