College basketball rankings: North Carolina should like its odds as potential No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament


North Carolina spent last season becoming the first preseason No. 1 in the history of the AP Top 25 poll to miss the NCAA Tournament. It was rough. So third-year coach Hubert Davis needed a nice bounce-back year as much as anybody to, among other things, alleviate concerns from an intense fanbase.

As you’ve probably heard, he’s having it.

And now his Tar Heels are just one more victory away, I think, from joining Purdue, UConn and Houston as No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament thanks to a combination of Tennessee falling to Mississippi State 73-56 in Friday’s quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament and North Carolina beating Pitt 72-65 in Friday’s semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Those results kept UNC at No. 4 in Saturday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings, and a win over NC State in Saturday night’s title game of the ACC Tournament should solidify the Tar Heels as the No. 1 seed in the West when Adam Zucker unveils the 68-team bracket Sunday on CBS.

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“[I’m] just super-excited to get a chance to play in the championship,” said UNC big Armando Bacot, who has had quite the roller coaster of a career. He’s played five seasons at UNC — two for Roy Williams, three for Davis. Two seasons ago, he made the title game of the NCAA Tournament. Last season, he missed the NCAA Tournament after being the face of the preseason No. 1 team. And now, this season, he’s on the verge of helping North Carolina secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 18th time in history.

But does UNC even want the No. 1 seed out West?

That’s a reasonable question to ask — but I think the answer is yes. If the options are needing to get through UConn in the East, Houston in the South or Arizona in the West, I’d rather try Arizona in the West, if only because the Wildcats have looked much more beatable all season than the other two, evidence being that Arizona has five more losses than the other two. So if I’m UNC, I want to beat an in-state rival on Saturday, secure a No. 1 seed on Sunday, spend next week in Charlotte and the following in Los Angeles. Because if North Carolina’s goal is to get to a second Final Four in a three-year span, it’s probably better to be the No. 1 seed in the West than it is to be the No. 2 seed anywhere else, even if a No. 2 seed anywhere else would keep the Tar Heels closer to home.

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