It just wasn’t meant to be.
UNC managed to stay in their quarterfinal game against Virginia until the end, but a few crucial missed chances to cut the deficit came up empty in a 68-59 defeat. The loss pretty much ensures that the Tar Heels will not be making the NCAA Tournament, making them the first preseason #1 in this era of the tournament to not go dancing.
RJ Davis put the team on his back, scoring 24 of the team’s 59 points. Caleb Love was the only other Tar Heel to make it into double figures with 11 points. He also had six assists. Armando Bacot’s ankle was clearly nowhere near 100%, and he was limited to 21 minutes because of it. The team shot just 36% from the field to Virginia’s 49%.
Despite the lackluster offense, Carolina did have their chances. Turnovers handed the Cavaliers 14 points. UNC also missed five free throws, including a few when the game was still within reach down the stretch. The Heels did make eight three-pointers, but shot 27 of them.
It’s a frustrating end to a frustrating season. In the end, much like the way the season went, there was just not enough offense to get over the hump. We’ll spend a lot of time analyzing why that was the case with a team returning four starters from their national championship run a year ago.
It will be very interesting to see what this team ends up looking like next season with various players having the ability to decide whether they stay or leave. It could look almost entirely different if Bacot, Love, and Davis decide they are done in Chapel Hill, or it could be extremely similar with only Leaky Black and Pete Nance not returning if all three want to come back for one more year.
UNC will now await news of their next move, which will likely be a trip to the NIT.