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UNC Basketball: History of Seeding in the Roy Williams Era

Which Carolina teams were overseeded, underseeded, or just right?

NCAA Basketball: Miami at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Time to get our Goldilocks on. Or, in this case, Joe Lunardi. Selection Sunday is just days away and as we eagerly await the Committee’s placement of UNC, it’s time to recount those fourteen previous Sundays that Roy Williams’ Tar Heels have sweated out the announcement of their name and the number beside it. Here’s a look back at Roy William’s previous squads and whether or not they were given their due by the Selection Committee.

Our Grades: Overseeded, Underseeded, or Just Right

As any of those faceless, mysterious Committee members will tell you, seeding the tournament is not an exact science. Should you object to any particular grading of a past seeding decision, you are encouraged to make your opinion heard. After all, this is not the NCAA. I wait for you in the Comments section.

2004: 6-Seed

KenPom ranking: 11th

A particularly challenging team to seed, because there were so many arguments both for it and against it. Roy’s first team had a number of signature wins to their name, most notably top-ranked and eventual champion UConn, as well as road wins over Wake Forest and NC State. But the Tar Heels also finished 8-8 in the ACC (many losses nailbiters) and crashed out of the ACC Tournament in the Quarterfinal (in yet another thriller). The Heels #16 in the country in both AP and RPI entering the postseason which should have given them something in the 4-5 range.

Verdict: Underseeded

2005: 1-Seed

KenPom: 1st

Not a lot of thought needed here. This team was a clear-cut one-seed, with only Illinois ranked higher all year, and proved it when they beat the Illini for the title in St. Louis.

Verdict: Just Right

2006: 3-Seed

KenPom: 10th

Everyone’s favorite underdog team exceeded all possible expectations and finished 2nd in the ACC at 12-4, and got one of the all-time wins on JJ Redick’s Senior Night. The only real when the Heels lost 3 of 4 early in ACC play and dropped from the rankings, but a seven-game conference win streak righted the ship. UNC came into the postseason ranked #10 and lost a close game to BC in the ACC Tournament Semifinal. They were placed as a well-deserved and unexpected 3-seed.

Verdict: Just Right

2007: 1-Seed

KenPom: 1st

This deep and talented team could be maddening at times (they lost three of their last six conference games and were swept by Virginia Tech) but they also had four wins on the road over ranked opponents and beat National Finalist Ohio State. The Heels split the Regular Season crown with an unlikely Virginia squad, but dominated in the ACC tournament. They finished at #4 in the RPI.

Verdict: Just Right

2008: 1-Seed

KenPom: 3rd

UNC was the best team in the country coming into the NCAA Tournament. Crushed the ACC in both Regular Season and Tournament. Were 32-2 on Selection Sunday.

Verdict: Just Right

2009: 1-Seed

KenPom: 1st

Next verse, same as the first. A Ty Lawson-less loss to Florida State in the 2009 ACCT Semifinal didn’t and shouldn’t have derailed their claim at a 1-seed. If you need further convincing of the Tar Heels’ worthiness, ask Danny Green: “Y’all see how we did it?”

Verdict: Just Right

2010: NIT 4-Seed

KenPom: 61st

The Tar Heels battled to a hard fought 5-11 record in the ACC and were rewarded with a well-deserved 4-seed in the NIT, before making their unlikely and unforgettable run to the title game...guys?

Verdict: “Don’t mention The War”

2011: 2-Seed

KenPom: 15th

I may lose some of you here. I think that this team got a real break by getting a 2-seed. Yes, they were far better in the back half of the season once the malignant Larry Drew had left town, but a team’s form coming into the postseason shouldn’t supersede its overall season, regardless of lineup changes or injuries. As good as the Heels’ conference campaign was, they also lost to Minnesota and Georgia Tech, neither of whom made the tournament. Duke was overseeded (very favorable 2-seed) last year because the Committee weighed their late season improvement more than their earlier struggles. The same was true of this team.

Verdict: Overseeded

2012: 1-Seed

KenPom: 6th

Pretty much everything about this season was a mix of great and infuriating, so why shouldn’t its seeding be as well? Carolina won the ACC Regular Season crown (overcoming the debacle in Tallahassee and Austin bleepin’ Rivers) and narrowly lost the ACC title game without John Henson. They also had early season losses to Kentucky and UNLV. On Selection Sunday, the last 1-seed was down to UNC and either Missouri or Kansas. Ultimately the Heels got the the Midwest. This meant that they had to face the Jayhawks in rabidly partisan St. Louis, which would have been a tough game even if the Heels had been healthy. They weren’t, and we know what happened next.

Verdict: A Wash. The Committee both helped and screwed us.

2013: 8-Seed

KenPom: 32nd

With all respect to KenPom, which seems to indicate this seeding was spot-on, this was ludicrous. UNC had struggled at times during the season, but they finished 12-6 in the ACC and won 6 of their last 7 conference games. They followed that up by reaching the ACC Tournament title game and putting up and excellent fight against a superior Miami team. UNC was 23-9 (12-6) with a conference title game appearance coming into Selection Sunday. There’s no earthly way they should have been anywhere lower than a 6-7 seed.

Verdict: Underseeded

2014: 6-Seed

KenPom: 29th

Another instance where Mr. Pomeroy’s model and I diverge. Yes, this team had some utterly dreadful losses early in the season, but they also beat Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Louisville and ran off 11 straight ACC wins. They entered the ACC Tournament ranked #15 in the AP Poll before losing to Pitt, which wasn’t a good loss, but shouldn’t have dropped them that far. This team should have been a 5.

Verdict: Underseeded

2015: 4-Seed

KenPom: 10th

Every time I look at this team’s record, I’m amazed that it lost 12 games. But the 2015 Heels struggled time and again to finish games and put teams away. That could have dropped them even further, were it not for a strong performance in the ACC Tournament, when the Heels avenged earlier losses to Louisville and Virginia. Had they not collapsed down the stretch against Notre Dame, UNC might have been even higher. As such, they’re probably right where they should have been.

Verdict: Just Right

2016: 1-Seed

KenPom: 2nd

I still can’t talk about this season. ACC Regular Season and Tournament Champs. No debate here.

Verdict: Just Right

2017: 1-Seed

KenPom: 3rd

There was a ludicrous case made against UNC by professional Dookie Seth Davis on Selection Sunday, but let’s be straight about this: Yes, Carolina fell in the ACC Semifinals and, yes, they had seven losses. But they won a loaded ACC by two full games. Further proof the Heels deserved their seed: NCAA Banner #6.

Verdict: Just Right