Lucas: Rapid Reactions
Release: 03/16/2014

By Adam Lucas

1. Carolina might have dodged some of the possible "marquee" matchups--no Michigan State, for example, which seemed like a possibility, or perhaps a game against Larry Brown and SMU--but the four-team bracket in San Antonio is no joke. In theory, the Tar Heels would have to defeat two conference tournament champions just to reach the Sweet 16. Providence played an inspired Big East title game against Creighton on Saturday night, and Iowa State ran through the very challenging Big XII tournament. If Carolina advances and there's an upset in the other game, you think North Carolina Central (which defeated NC State) would be jacked up for a shot at the Tar Heels?

2. Good news from the Tar Heels, who watched the show at Roy Wililams' house: Marcus Paige says he's feeling better, and that the quad injury he suffered on Friday against Pittsburgh has improved. Paige said after the game against the Panthers he had trouble cutting or sprinting. The two days off this weekend, plus the Friday opening game instead of Thursday, can't hurt.

3. There's some history in Carolina's mini-bracket. The Tar Heels have faced Providence only three times--a win in the 1971 NIT on the way to the title, a two-point loss in 1978, and a 1979 victory in Charlotte. The potential next round matchup with Iowa State is intriguing because it was the Cyclones who were very vocal about wanting to run with the Tar Heels during the 2005 NCAA Tournament. That proved to be a bad idea, as Carolina blitzed them, 92-65, in Charlotte. Carolina has also played just three games against Iowa State, winning all three. 

4. There will be plenty of time to dissect Providence later, but an early warning sign on the Friars: their tempo rating according to Ken Pomeroy is in the bottom third in the country. They've also been very good on the offensive backboards, a troublesome area lately for the Tar Heels.

5. As for the destination, San Antonio, it's a beautiful city that is underrated as a tournament site. It's also been the location of some bitter Carolina defeats, as UNC is 0-2 in NCAA play there, including the 1998 Final Four loss to Utah and the 2008 Final Four struggle against Kansas.

6. It's pretty evident that Carolina's quarterfinal loss and NC State's quarterfinal win had a slight impact on seeding. Carolina might have dropped from the 4/5 range to a 6, and the Wolfpack made it into the field. There's an argument to be made that a 6 might actually be preferable to a 5, depending on the various matchups. Is that the case this year? We'll start to find out next weekend. 

Overall, the Tar Heels have been the sixth seed only twice. In 1996, they fell to 3 seed Texas Tech, and in 2004 (Roy Williams' first year), they lost to 3 seed Texas.

Adam Lucas is the editor of CAROLINA.

UNC North Carolina Men's Basketball

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