For the seventh time in the last ten games, the Tar Heels fell, this time at the hands of the Pittsburgh Panthers. The loss in the Smith Center, the first ACC win for the Panthers in their last 23 conference games, drops the Tar Heels to 8-7 overall on the season and just 1-3 in the ACC.
The concern at this point isn’t where the Tar Heels will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. Rather it’s on whether or not the Tar Heels can make the most prestigious postseason tournament at season’s end. This loss is a big one for the Tar Heels tournament hopes, having now dropped back to back games that were seen as very winnable and crucial for a team that faces a brutal stretch run home.
The Tar Heels held a fourteen point lead at one point in the first half and led by nine at halftime before surrendering that lead because of turnover issues and the inability to get the ball inside in the second half. Believe me, Pittsburgh deserves credit, but this Carolina team simply collapsed in a game that needed to have.
For the second straight game, Garrison Brooks was the offense for the Tar Heels, but he struggled for the second straight game on the defensive end. Armando Bacot had his best game since UCLA, but disappeared in the second half, leaving this team to shoot perimeter shots. The Tar Heels outside of Brooks and Bacot combined to shoot just 9-33 from the field in the game, a big part of the reason this Tar Heels weren't able to close out this game.
There is now legitimate concern that this Tar Heel team may become the first since 2010 to miss the NCAA Tournament. According to ESPN’s BPI, the Tar Heels are expected to win just four of the team’s final fifteen games, meaning wins will be tough to come by for this Tar Heels team. Unless this team can start piecing wins together, it’s tough to see this team making the field of 68.