Monday the final bracket for the college cup was released, with the Tar Heels sitting as the ninth overall seed in the tourney. They are guaranteed to face the winner of Maryland Baltimore and Old Dominion. As the ninth seed, they earn a bye for the first round, and will play their first game on the 18th at 5 pm at home.
The first rounds of the tournament are played at the individual teams’ campuses. Unfortunately, as ninth seed, the Tar Heels will only be able to play once in Chapel Hill. If they progress past the second round, (the first round that they will play in) they will likely have to play away to Saint Louis University. After that it’ll likely be away to Notre Dame and then off to Alabama for the College Cup.
Now what does this mean for the Tar Heels’ championship chances? It means that the road to Alabama goes through South Bend, which could pose a major challenge for the Heels. Notre Dame is the number one seed in the tournament, and for good reason.
That being said, the Tar Heels were in the top 5 teams in the NCAA ranking every week save this one. It was only losses to Maryland which dropped us in the ranking, and had we won against Maryland in the ACC final, we would likely be the 1, 2, or 3 seed. By record we deserve our ninth spot, but it is not remotely indicative of our quality.
This means that we should have little problem with Saint Louis. They were unranked only two weeks ago and only got a bye for their strong finish to the season. Notre Dame has been ranked below us most of the year, but they are an elite team and they will be at home. They are the first challenge. If the Heels can get past Notre Dame, I think that they will have a very good chance to be back in the College Cup. Then it’ll likely be Akron, then UCLA or Maryland, and we’ll see if the Tar Heels of the first 80 minutes of the ACC Championship or the Tar Heels of the last ten minutes show up.
Once the Notre Dame Hurdle is crossed, all roads lead to glory.