UNC Basketball: Latest Bracketology projections have UNC on the move

Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket has Tar Heels in Midwest Region

The NCAA Selection Committee released a bracket on Sunday that represents how the NCAA Tournament’s top four teams in each region would look if the college basketball season had ended yesterday.

While the No. 1 seeds in each region were fairly agreeable – with the most argument revolving around Purdue on the top line rather than Michigan State – the remaining 12 teams and their placing left a lot of fans scratching their heads.

How is a Kansas team with glaring vulnerabilities and three home losses still a 2-seed, particularly after a blowout loss to unranked Baylor? Why is Duke, which recently lost two consecutive games, still hanging on to the No. 2 seed in the East Region?

How is an eight-loss Oklahoma team in the midst of a complete meltdown still in the committee’s top-16 teams? And how do they rationalize putting the fourth-seeded Arizona Wildcats in the West Region over three higher-ranked teams that all hail from much farther east?

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his latest bracket on Monday morning, and his looked largely the same as the committee’s. Keep in mind, though, it’s Lunardi’s job to predict the bracket, not manipulate it.

His top eight teams – the 1 and 2-seed in each region – are the exact same as how the committee’s looked in yesterday’s early bracket reveal. Lunardi, though, has each of the 3-seeds in different regions, including the North Carolina Tar Heels, who he has slated as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest.

That placement would put North Carolina in Wichita for the tournament’s first two rounds, rather than Dallas. That isn’t a huge geographical nod in either direction for the Tar Heels, but later round sites would not be so interchangeable.

For instance, if North Carolina gets shipped out west, the West Regional is set to be played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Midwest Regional, on the other hand, will take place in Omaha, Nebraska, markedly closer for UNC and its fans.

This is all based on current records and standings and hypotheticals, of course, and nothing is set in stone. There are still games to be played, both regular season and postseason, and teams will play their way in or out of the tournament’s top spots.

For North Carolina, it starts on Monday night against Notre Dame. The Tar Heels will look for their 20th win of the season, and fourth consecutive after losing three straight in late January.

If they can close the season out by winning at least four of their next five games, you’ve got to like the Tar Heels’ chances at snagging a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament.