The Bracketology Report: North Carolina

Updated: February 4, 2004, 11:39 AM ET
By By Tom Durso | Insider Bracketologist

Editor's note: Each week Bracketology Insider will take an in-depth look at teams headed for the NCAA Tournament ... or not.

Week in review
North Carolina (RPI No. 17, SOS No. 52) welcomed neighboring North Carolina State (RPI No. 25, SOS No. 13) to Chapel Hill last Wednesday and just barely got a win on their home floor. Initially slowed by the Wolfpack's patient halfcourt game, UNC clamped down defensively in the second half, forcing 13 turnovers and taking control of the game. N.C. State mounted a late comeback but ran out of clock, giving North Carolina its first win in the intra-state rivalry in nearly three years.

On Saturday, North Carolina hit the road for its final game before Thursday's bloodsport against Duke (RPI No. 1, SOS No. 12). No doubt Roy Williams peeled the paint off his locker room's walls with loud warnings about looking ahead, but it was to no avail. Scuffling Clemson (RPI No. 52, SOS No. 3) entered the contest as the ACC's worst shooting team from behind the arc, then proceeded to knock down 11 of 13 treys on its way to an 81-72 upset.

Coming up
Three Carolina losses in six games must have dulled the luster on the matchup with Duke, right? Nah&we didn't think so, either. As with any great rivalry -- and they don't get better than this one -- records mean very little. The Tar Heels will be looking to pin the top-ranked Blue Devils with their first ACC loss, and will have the advantage of playing at home.

Williams must try mightily to keep his team on an even keel, for following Thursday's contest are a pair of potentially brutal road games. UNC gets all of one day off before busing to Wake Forest (RPI No. 22, SOS No. 32) on Saturday for a rematch of the Dec. 20 triple-overtime classic. Williams' first ACC game proved to be a classic, one that the Heels lost, 119-114. After Wake, North Carolina must head Tuesday to Georgia Tech (RPI No. 12, SOS No. 26), which will be looking to avenge a 15-point loss in Chapel Hill on Jan. 11.

It shapes up as a grueling stretch for Carolina. Without at least two wins against three of the country's top teams, the Tar Heels could be in danger of dropping into the second division of the ACC.

"Planting seeds"
The Tar Heels are No. 19 this week on The Bracketology Report national seeding chart. That makes North Carolina a No. 5 seed, as well as the fourth Atlantic Coast Conference team in the projected NCAA field.

To discover how a team of UNC's profile can manage to land only a No. 5 seed, check out the color of its jersey. In the home whites, the Tar Heels are a sparkling 9-1; in the road powder blues -- sorry, Carolina blues -- they are a dreadful 1-4, including zero ACC wins away from Chapel Hill. A 3-0 neutral court record is at least partially redeeming, but North Carolina simply must win some of its remaining road games to move back up the bracket.

And that's not going to be easy. Eight of UNC's nine remaining games are against teams in the RPI Top 50.

Games of the Week
North Carolina fans should root FOR and AGAINST the teams in ALL CAPS.
For South Carolina @ Kentucky (Sat.)
West Virginia @ CONNECTICUT (Sat.)
Against KANSAS @ Oklahoma State (Mon.)
TEXAS TECH @ Oklahoma (Wed.)

Inside the Numbers
Additional considerations for the NCAA Selection Committee include:
"Good" wins
(vs. RPI 1-25) Georgia Tech, UConn, N. Carolina State
(vs. RPI 26-50) N-Illinois, Virginia
(vs. RPI 51-100) NONE
"Bad" losses
(vs. RPI 101-200) NONE
(vs. RPI sub-200) NONE
Record vs. projected field (4-4)
Win: N-Illinois, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, N. Carolina State
Loss: Wake Forest, @Kentucky, @Maryland, @Florida State
Record vs. at-large pool (1-0)
Win: Virginia
Loss: NONE
Reason(s) to SEED North Carolina
  • RPI No. 17
  • 5-4 vs. RPI Top 50
  • Reason(s) to DROP North Carolina
  • 4-4 road/neutral record
  • 3-4 ACC record
  • Season breakdown (13-5, 3-4)
    All RPI data through Monday, Feb. 3

    Date      Opponent          Result        Opp. RPI      Opp. SOS
    11/22     Old Dominion      90-64           101           126
    11/24     N-Davidson        91-68           160           64
    11/29     @Cleveland St     82-76           290           120

    12/2 N-Illinois 88-81 40 73 12/7 George Mason 115-81 110 226 12/14 Akron 64-53 141 163 12/20 Wake Forest 114-119(L, 3ot) 22 32 12/28 N-UNC Wilmington 71-54 135 144 12/30 Coastal Carolina 105-72 233 252

    1/3 @Kentucky 56-61 (L) 3 7 1/7 Miami 89-64 147 254 1/11 Georgia Tech 103-88 12 26 1/14 @Maryland 84-90 (L) 36 19 1/17 Connecticut 86-83 5 16 1/22 @Florida St 81-90 (L, ot) 41 58 1/24 Virginia 96-77 50 59 1/28 North Carolina St 68-66 25 13 1/31 @Clemson 72-81 (L) 52 3

    2/5 Duke 1 12 2/7 @Wake Forest 22 32 2/10 @Georgia Tech 12 26 2/15 Maryland 36 19 2/21 Florida St 41 58 2/24 @Virginia 50 59 2/29 @North Carolina St 25 13

    3/2 Clemson 52 3 3/6 @Duke 1 12 3/11 ACC Tournament

    Joe Lunardi's forecast (Feb. 4)
    Chance of NCAA top seed: 5 percent
    Chance of NCAA "protected" (1-4) seed: 65 percent
    Chance of NCAA bid: 90 percent
    Chance of NCAA at-large bid: 75 percent
    Chance of NIT bid: 10 percent
    Chance of missing post-season: 0 percent