North Carolina basketball in danger of missing NCAA tournament

RJ Davis, North Carolina Basketball
Maggie Hobson/UNC Athletics

The North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels (15-8, 7-5) basketball team entered the 2022-2023 season as AP’s number one team in the country, but have failed to meet their sky-high expectations to this point.

Hubert Davis is only in his second season as head coach of the Tar Heels, following in the shoes of legendary Roy Williams. He’s had an odd start to his tenure, but nearly capped off his first year with a National Championship.

The Tar Heels were dominant in the latter half of last season, becoming just the third team to reach the National Championship as an eight seed in the NCAA tournament. They’ll need to catch fire similar to that to sneak their way back into this year’s tournament.

This year, UNC returned four of it’s starters from last year’s runner-up team, including first-team all ACC forward Armando Bacot, guards R.J. Davis and Caleb Love, and forward Leaky Black. The ever-so talented group has not lived up to expectations thus far.

Where they stand

After losing three straight conference games, including at rival Duke, UNC is looking to bounce back and improve their position in the ranking. They currently hold a 1-8 quadrant one record, which isn’t helping their case.

Quadrants in college basketball have become arguably the biggest factor in determining who’s in and who’s out. They are based on the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) rankings of every team, and have a range based on home/away.

Quadrant one games are comprised of home games vs. RPI ranked 1-30, neutral site games vs. RPI ranked 1-50, and road games vs. RPI ranked 1-75.

Quadrant two games are comprised of home games vs. RPI ranked 31-75, neutral site games vs. RPI ranked 51-100, and road games vs. RPI ranked 76-135.

Quadrants three and four are somewhat irrelevant to a team like North Carolina. They are undefeated in those quadrants, while having a 5-1 record in quadrant two games.

How they can make the NCAA tournament

Tuesday night’s game at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (15-9, 7-6) provided an opportunity for a quad one victory. Wake Forest ranks at 62 in the RPI rankings.

For the most part, the Tar Heels have avoided bad losses this year, which has helped their case tremendously. ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has Carolina as a nine seed. They’ll need some convincing wins down the stretch to maintain that status.

UNC sits in eighth place in the ACC, with Wake Forest taking the seventh spot. While all 15 ACC teams make the conference tournament, the Tar Heels would prefer to be one of the top four seeds that earn a buy to the quarterfinals.

North Carolina basketball has a tough road ahead, but their eventual effort in the ACC tournament could determine their fate for the National tournament.

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