This college basketball season began with big expectations for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
They were ranked as the number 1 team in the country ahead of the season after last year’s improbable run through March Madness.
Unfortunately, they never quite lived up to those expectations.
It didn’t take long for it to become obvious that they weren’t actually college basketball’s best team.
They had a more difficult time than expected against some of the smaller programs they took on early in the year before losing their first 4 games against Power 5 opponents.
They’ve bounced back from that 5-4 start to earn a 20-13 record, but their ceiling became very clear throughout the year. UNC didn’t suffer any particularly bad losses throughout the year, but they also struggled to pick up impressive wins.
They went just 2-7 against the conference’s top 5 teams and their most impressive wins outside of the conference were against Michigan, Ohio State, and the College of Charleston.
As a result of that lack of impressive wins, it seems almost certain that North Carolina won’t be heading back to the NCAA Tournament this year. If that happens, they would be the first team to be named the preseason number 1 and then miss the NCAA Tournament since it expanded to 64 teams.
Unofficially official: UNC will be the first preseason No. 1 team to fail to make the NCAA Tournament in the 64/65/68-team era.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 10, 2023
After yesterday’s loss to Virginia that seemingly sealed their fate, star big man Armando Bacot was asked about the team’s disappointing season.
He had just one explanation for where things went wrong. He guesses that the team must have just not been that good.
"The story of this year was talking about last year."
Armando Bacot on Carolina's season that was cursed by expectations from the start. He kept calling this his last game, but said he hasn't made decision. Said would play NIT but doesn't want to #UNC #ACCTournament pic.twitter.com/hrT9oxwY5V
— Pat Welter WRAL (@PatrickWelter) March 10, 2023
UNC wasn’t exactly seen as a powerhouse at this time last year, but it has been surprising to see the way they have struggled to pick up signature wins this year after returning a huge chunk of their roster.
They’ll have a lot of rebuilding to do as the stars of this team likely won’t put off entering the draft for another year after they did it last season only to end up missing the tournament.