Hopes of an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament should be snuffed out by now, the last bit of oxygen feeding the fire extinguished by the cold boot of Duke. What’s left for the Tar Heels? A long, arduous path to automatic qualification, doing something they haven’t done since 2016; winning the ACC Tournament.
Causes for concern? Carolina is still not a deep team, and this task will require the Tar Heels to win four games in four days. They are still shooting erratically. Puff Johnson’s health is in question. Morale is low.
How about optimism? Virginia is the #2 seed, and the strongest team in UNC’s way on the bottom half of the bracket. Only one winner will come out of the top half, where Duke, Miami, and Pitt will tussle.
But before we get too deep down the rabbit hole, we have to win on Wednesday. Our opponent will be determined today between Boston College and Louisville. Here are three things to watch as Carolina takes its last shot at making the NCAA Tournament.
Root for Louisville
It’s hard to fathom what has gone down at Louisville this season. People will complain that Carolina’s slide this season has been dire, but it’s nothing compared to the misery experienced by Cardinal fans. 6-14 is nothing to smile at, but 2-18 is just miserable.
Boston College is more of a mixed bag. Their record is not good, but they have beaten some good(ish) teams (Virginia, Clemson, Virginia Tech when they were still ranked) and had some close losses to good teams (Duke by 1, UNC by 8). They’ve also suffered double-digit losses in seven ACC games (-30 against NC State!).
You don’t know what you’re gonna get against the Eagles, but you know you’re gonna get hot garbage from Louisville. Go Cards!
Win the Post Battle
I’m assuming a Boston College win.
In their only contest this season, UNC beat Boston College in Chapel Hill on the back on Armando Bacot’s head-to-head match-up with Quinten Post. If you like to see two monster trucks bang into each other, this will be appointment viewing.
Post got his licks in, scoring 17 points on 7-11 shooting, but only grabbed 5 rebounds. Post also didn’t manage his fouls as well as Bacot, fouling out after only playing 20 total minutes.
Bacot played 35 minutes and finished with four fouls, but scored 20 points (8-11 shooting) and grabbed 16 rebounds.
Post is good, but Bacot is Bacot. If Armando wins the match-up, Carolina moves on to Virginia.
Can we finally shoot?
Any way you slice it, Carolina can’t win any more games this year if they can’t shoot.
You can argue about Hubert’s X’s and O’s, but after the Duke game he was correct to say that UNC found open shots in the offense, but couldn’t knock enough down.
Only Armando Bacot shot decently against Duke (4-8 FG, 9-10 FT), and he wasn’t fed nearly enough. The rest of the team’s shooting stats? Painful.
Pete Nance: 1-4
RJ Davis: 6-13
Caleb Love: 3-12
Leaky Black: 3-16
Carolina can drag one of these players along if they’re shooting poorly, but not four! If the Tar Heels want to play in the NCAA Tournament, they simply have to make open shots. Nothing else matters.