The North Carolina Tar Heels are currently 15-7 on the season and 5-4 in the ACC, but they are still in the running for a solid seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The main reason why the team has always been a strong contender for the tournament is due to their RPI ranking which is currently 35. RPI stands for Rating Percentage Index, and it measures a team’s strength of schedule, strength of conference and their overall amount of quality wins throughout a season. Luckily the Tar Heels have a few quality wins under the belt this season, and their conference is one of the toughest in the nation.
During non-conference play, the Tar Heels defeated Louisville when they were the No.3 team in the nation, Michigan State when they were No. 1 and Kentucky when they were No. 11. All three teams are still among the best in the country, with Louisville at No. 14, Michigan State at No. 9 and Kentucky at No. 18. Although the Tar Heels have a few bad losses on their resume, these three victories are the sole reason why they are still being considered for an NCAA Tournament bid. Despite being just 3-3 against teams with RPI rankings ranging from 51-100, they are 2-3 against those ranked from 1-25 and 2-0 against teams ranked from 26-50.
Another bright side to the Tar Heels’ resume is the fact that the ACC is a conference filled with college basketball powerhouses. Four teams in the conference are ranked in the AP Top 25, and the Tar Heels are still in sixth place overall in the conference. When the committee sits down to rank the teams for the tournament and hand out at-large bids, they will highly consider the Tar Heels for the sole reason that they have proved that they can stack up against the top teams in the nation. Upsets are bound to happen in college basketball, so it is vital that a team can come away with some upsets of their own to help their NCAA Tournament chances. The Tar Heels already have their fair share of upsets this season, and if they can defeat either No. 11 Duke or No. 25 Pittsburgh they will be guaranteed a spot in the tournament come March.
Also, there is a huge possibility that the Tar Heels will not even have to rely on their final RPI ranking in order to make the tournament. They are playing tremendous basketball right now, and the Tar Heels are currently on a four-game winning streak in the ACC. If they continue this surge then they will receive a top seed in the conference tournament where a strong run will solidify their spot in the tournament for sure.
This has been a very shaky season for the Tar Heels, but if they continue to show that their poor playing days are behind them then they will not only receive a spot in the NCAA tournament, but they will also do some serious damage throughout.