After starting the season preseason #1 in the country, and the heavy favorite to win the ACC, and get back to the Final Four, the Tar Heels didn’t hear their names called on Selection Sunday and will miss the NCAA Tournament. Carolina entered the ACC Tournament needing to either win the ACC Tournament or make it to Saturday to feel better about their NCAA Tournament hopes, and that didn’t happen as they fell to Virginia in the quarterfinals on Thursday. On Saturday, Carolina’s resume got a boost as their win over Ohio State back in December qualified as a Quad 1 victory, but after they had lost to Purdue in the semifinals of the Big 10 tournament, they fell outside of the top 50 in the NET and ended Carolina’s chances to make the NCAA Tournament.
Hubert Davis released a statement via the Carolina Basketball Twitter account stating: "All season, our focus and goal have been on being the best team we can possibly become and reaching our full potential to give us another opportunity to compete, play for and win an NCAA championship. Although we no longer have that opportunity and this season wasn't what we had hoped for, I want to thank our players and staff for their hard work and love for Carolina Basketball. Many factors go into postseason play, and we believe now is the time to focus on moving ahead, preparing for next season, and the opportunity to again compete for ACC and NCAA championships. I also want to thank our great fans for their incredible support. Our commitment to you is what drives us to improve our program in every way.
According to the NCAA Tournament committee, UNC was the third team left out of the NCAA Tournament, behind both Oklahoma State and Rutgers. Teams that were on the bubble that safely made the field, include rival NC State, and Utah State. Teams that were on the bubble that will participate in the play-in games are Pittsburgh from the ACC, Arizona State from the Pac-12, Mississippi State from the SEC, and Nevada from Mountian West.
With both NC State and Utah State both safely in the field, Carolina’s chances of making the tournament felt much higher than when the selection show first started. Even when you saw Kentucky show up as a 6 seed playing its first-round game in Greensboro, you thought the committee could put them in the field from a rating perspective, but that wasn’t the case. Of the teams from power conferences that will compete in play-in games, Pittsburgh, Arizona State, and even Mississippi State aren’t as hard of pills to swallow, as the committee taking a team from the Mountain West, over not only an ACC team but the premier program in all of college basketball. Nevada owns a 21-10 overall record, and while they have three more Quad 1 wins than UNC, they also own multiple Quad 3 losses, something that Carolina doesn’t have on their resume.
At the end of the day, the Tar Heels only have themselves to blame. It’s hard to justify putting a team in the NCAA Tournament that suffered multiple four-game losing streaks and was only 1-9 in Quad 1 games. This is the first time since the 2010 season that the Tar Heels will not compete in an NCAA Tournament that will be held, as they were 14-19 in the 2019-20 season, and wouldn’t have made the NCAA Tournament, had it been held before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sports world to a halt.
This now sets up a very important off-season for Hubert Davis and his program, as it’s clear that the program is in need of a rebuild, and that will start right away as the team has declined an invitation to compete in the 2023 NIT.