There is an old saying, so popular among North Carolina basketball followers, that they put it on a t-shirt: If God is not a tar heel, then why is the sky Carolina Blue?
Which takes this question in light of the 2020-21 season: If God is a star heel, then why is Carolina 15-9?
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The team, which has earned three NCAA championships since 2005, has faced unusual hardship over the past two seasons, but at least this year's edition is headed to an NCAA berth. Last year's team will recall that NCAAs did not have to cancel the tournament due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Can North Carolina make NCAA tournament?
The more German question may be: Can North Carolina not make the tournament? The Tar Heels are a No. 10 seed in an estimated field of 68 compiled by Ryan Fagan of Sporting News. As their bracket is constructed, which puts at least seven big teams behind the Tar Heels. It is difficult to leave many teams behind in such a short period of time – especially when most of those teams have managed to win a game more difficult than the Heels.
To take a positive approach, however, the Heels would be close enough to close the bid when they were able to defeat Duke in their season-end rivalry game on Saturday evening at 6pm on ESPN.
North Carolina and ACC Tournament
The Tar Heels enter the weekend tied for sixth place in the ACC with a 9-6 league record, but they lose the tiebreaker, as things now stand with Clemson for the No. 6 seed in the ACC tournament. That tiebreaker included Clemson's head-to-head win over the Heels, so that it could not change if they were still not tied after the final regular-season game.
However, the Tar Heels could go on to beat the Blue Devils while Clemson lost their season-ender to a .500 Pitt team.
There are still scenarios in which Carolina can wind up as the No. 4 seed or No. 5 seed, although the Heels will need some significant upsets. The most likely scenario appears as the No. 6 seed, favorites Georgia Tech, Virginia and Clemson won their final games.
At No. 6, the Heels will play a first-round game between the No. 11 and No. 14 teams against the winner, currently Boston College and Notre Dame. A win would come with a quarterfinal game against No. 3 seed, currently Virginia Tech, whose COVID-19 halt began on February 27 following wins over Wake Forest and erased this week's game against Louisville and NC State.
North Carolina Remaining Program
The biggest rivalry in American sports – North Carolina vs. Duke – is not usually enjoying one of the glamorous seasons. In some ways, however, the stakes are higher than ever.
North Carolina has never been a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament. Its lowest seed since the NCAA began using the device since 1979 was the No. 8 seed in 1990 (Dean Smith, Heels reached the Sweet 16), 2000 (under Bill Guthridge, he made it to the Final Four) And 2013 (Under) Roy Williams, they advanced one round).
Now, in a game that traditionally ends the regular season for both teams, the Tar Heels and Blue Devils will play on ESPN on Saturday at 6 pm.
There is no doubt that the network will feel this as an opportunity.
North Carolina's winning power
The biggest problem in a big case in North Carolina is a 2-8 record against the Quad 1 opposition. They have mostly lost when they have played the best team on their time – or when they have faced the toughest challenges.
The exceptions were the home win over net number 13 Florida State and the first meeting with the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium in early February.
He has a 3-6 record against teams in the NCAA Region of Sporting News.
North Carolina's weak spots
Facing a hole in the schedule due to the opponent's COVID stagnation, Williams arranged a non-league trip to Marquette, a talented team that had lost the Big-East race to a seven-game six. . This is considered an opportunity to add a solid win – Marquette is number 90 in the net rankings – to stay sharp with more competition.
It did not work that way. Marquette controlled the game and left Chapel Hill with a memorable 83–70 victory.
This is North Carolina's only Quad 3 loss, but one in that category owes a lot to the NCAA Tournament Aspirant.
Road losses to NC State and Syracuse are the only other defeats against teams not in the SN bracket projection, and they qualify as quad losses.
Kenpom, RPI, SOS and Quadrants of North Carolina
– KenPom: Carolina is number 32 in the latest KenPom Ranking.
– RPI: Carolina is number 38 in the latest RPI standings.
– Strength of schedule: Carolina is number 28 Latest sos ranking And 35 in record strength.
– Quadrants: Carolina is 2-8 inches Quadrant 1 game, 8-8 combined against Quad 1 and 2. Heels have one loss in quad 3.
How North Carolina Makes March Madness
Tar heels are not really further work in the purest sense. Winning a home game against a team. A win on a neutral court against a team with a losing record? This is all North Carolina needs to assure itself of a bid.
It becomes very difficult with a few minor language changes. The Tar Heels must prevail against their arch rivals to achieve a season sweep, and they need even more dire success against a team to remain in the NCAA hunt. They should then go on to the ACC tournament and defeat an opponent who already ruined Pitt's postseason aspirations and hurt Duke's NCAA Tournament case.
It's probably not so easy after all, but there are plenty of Division I programs – some of which tradition ranks with the grandest in the game – that accept the opportunity to trade places with the Heels.