Here's what 10 of the best bracketologists say about North Carolina's NCAA Tournament hopes
While ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is undoubtedly the most well-known college basketball bracketologist, he’s not the best — at least not statistically.
In fact, there are over 100 bracketologists who attempt to predict the NCAA Tournament bracket each year in the same vein as Lunardi. The results are tracked over a five-year average by the folks at BracketMatrix.
Lunardi does well, ranking No. 55 out of a total of 135 bracketologists in the last five years. But the numbers say he’s not elite when compared to his peers.
So, what do the nation’s top bracketologists say about North Carolina’s NCAA Tournament résumé? With just one regular season game to go, that picture is starting to become more clear.
The country’s top bracketologist over the last five-year cycle has North Carolina as an 11-seed as of Wednesday morning. The Tar Heels didn’t change seed lines for him following their overtime win vs. Syracuse on Monday.
UNC is joined on the 11-seed line by Creighton, Miami and North Texas. However, it’s the 12-seeds — Michigan, Indiana, Memphis and BYU — who are projected to go to Dayton as part of the play-in round.
Delphi has North Carolina listed as a No. 11-seed in its latest update. In this projection, North Carolina would face No. 6-seeded LSU in the first round of the West bracket. The first two rounds would take place in San Diego.
In this projection, UNC narrowly misses having to go to Dayton for a play-in game. Fellow 11-seeds Creighton and VCU are the play-in teams in this scenario.
North Carolina comes in at a No. 11-seed in this projection. The Tar Heels narrowly miss Dayton once again and are the final team into the field of 64. UNC is projected to face No. 6-seeded Houston in the first round.
There is a caveat as the projection indicates that North Texas would jump the Tar Heels for an at-large berth if it fails to win its conference tournament. That’s certainly something to monitor during conference tournament week.
This is a bit of a doomsday scenario for North Carolina. This projection has the Tar Heels amongst the ‘first four out’ teams. This would be UNC’s first missed tournament since the 2009-10 season.
Here’s a few of the team seeded above UNC in this projection: Loyola-Chicago, Wake Forest, Indiana, North Texas, Notre Dame, Michigan, BYU and Rutgers.
North Carolina is back to being an 11-seed in this bracket projection. The other 11-seeds in the field include Creighton, Miami and North Texas.
If UNC does make the NCAA Tournament, it will almost certainly set a program record. It has never been worse than a No. 8 seed in the Big Dance, although it has reached that status on four occasions. Being an 11-seed would be completely unchartered territory for UNC.
Another 11-seed projection for North Carolina. This time, the Tar Heels would be playing Ohio State in Pittsburgh in the first round. A date with either Tennessee or Princeton would happen if UNC could find a way to get past the Buckeyes.
North Carolina and Ohio State have met 11 times previously. The Tar Heels are 11-2 overall, but Ohio State got the last laugh — a 74-49 victory back on Dec. 4, 2019.
North Carolina is a No. 10 seed according to D Rating, which uses a custom power rating to seed the teams. Other 10-seed include Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Loyola-Chicago.
That would, of course, mean that three ACC teams all share the same seed line. While that seems unlikely, it’s not impossible — the ACC has at least teams who will be on the bubble entering Selection Sunday.
Inside the Hall is projecting North Carolina as a No. 11 seed. Like several other of the top bracketologists, the Tar Heels narrowly avoid missing the play-in round in this scenario.
UNC would face LSU in the first round and likely would see Wisconsin in the round of 32 if it manages to get past the Tigers. North Carolina is 9-1 all-time against LSU.
North Carolina is a projected No. 10 seed here. The Tar Heels would face No. 7-seeded TCU in the first round.
Ironically, UNC might be a slight betting favorite in this game. The Horned Frogs have a better résumé, but UNC is ranked higher on KenPom and in the NET.
North Carolina is a No. 11-seed in this projection. Similarly to Inside the Hall, this bracket is predicting UNC will face LSU in the first round.
Other 11-seeds are Wake Forest, North Texas and San Fransisco. The Tar Heels would once again avoid playing in Dayton prior to the first round.
Notes and seed distribution
It’s worth noting only brackets updated on March 1 or March 2 were used in this exercise. These were the top-10 ranked brackets that have been updated since North Carolina’s most recent game.
Here’s a breakdown of UNC’s seed across all of these projections:
- 10-seed: 2
- 11-seed: 7
- Missed tournament: 1