Compilation: Tar Heel NCAA Projections 2/19
It's a big week for Carolina's NCAA Tournament hopes, as they have a can't-lose game at Georgia Tech tonight followed by a potential RPI boosting home game against NC State. As we did last week, let's take a look at a cross-section of NCAA projections for the Tar Heels. Keep in mind that the Heels have ascended to 30th in this week's official NCAA RPI.
As we mentioned last week, keep in mind that the most accurate projections aren't always by the people with whom you're most familiar. We've included below a couple of lesser-known forecasts that have been standouts in the Bracket Project's rankings.
CBSSports.com: Jerry Palm has UNC in the First Four as a 12 seed (down from 11 last week), matched up against Villanova in a game the TV networks would probably love. The winner of that game would advance to Austin and face Georgetown (which doesn't make a lot of sense, because it sets up a potential conference game in the round of 64 if Villanova was to beat Carolina).
Yahoo! Sports: Carolina is a 10 seed (up from 11 last week). This bracket doesn't pair specific teams, but the 7s are NC State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Missouri.
Sporting News: In as a 10 seed (up from 11), with the note that "Saturday's home game against NC State is huge." A victory over the Wolfpack would take care of one of the biggest knocks on Carolina--that the Heels have only one top-50 RPI win (UNLV).
ESPN: In as a 10 (up from 11), facing VCU in a fascinating game in Auburn Hills. This bracket is packed with storylines, as a Tar Heel win would set up a game against Michigan State in the Spartans' backyard. How did that work out for MSU last time? Given the history between the two teams, would Tom Izzo's club really want to face Carolina in March?
Patrick Stevens (formerly of Washington Times, now USA Today): In as a 9 seed, facing Cincinnati in Auburn Hills, with the winner facing...Michigan State.
Bracket Project: In as a 9 seed, with some intriguing possibilities against 8 seeds, including Creighton.
Overall Thoughts: Carolina faces an interesting week. As of right now, they're in the NCAA Tournament. But tonight's game at Georgia Tech is a can't-lose contest. Then, on Saturday, the Tar Heels are pretty close to facing a must-win.
The trip to Atlanta is can't-lose because Georgia Tech has a dismal RPI of 128. But it's also tricky because the Jackets have dominated the recent series in Atlanta (Tech is 4-1 at home against Roy Williams in the last 10 years) and have played much better lately.
Win this one, and it sets up one of the more meaningful battles with NC State in the Williams era. It's traditionally been the Wolfpack that has been trying to prove something in this series lately. On Saturday, though, it could be Carolina trying to earn a key marquee win for the NCAA credentials. Two wins this week would have the Tar Heels on very firm NCAA ground, possibly even moving up out of the 8-9 seed range into something more like a 7.