What has already been a down year for the North Carolina Tar Heels is about to get worse.
Roy Williams' unranked bunch heads into Raleigh, N.C. for a date with in-state rival North Carolina State, and the results will not be favorable for the Heels.
This could be the worst team Chapel Hill has seen in years.
Things aren't as bad as they were in 2002 and 2003 when Matt Doherty almost single-handedly destroyed Tar Heel tradition, but it's been a while since fans had to sweat out the possibility of missing the NCAA tournament.
Losing to the Wolfpack on Saturday will only make things tighter. This Tar Heels team is too young and they lack the leadership to execute against quality teams.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Tar Heels listed as the No. 8 seed in the South regional in his latest mock bracket. When a team from a major conference occupies a seed of seven or lower, that indicates they are on—or close to—the bubble.
The Heels currently have an RPI ranking of 34, but they are just 1-3 against teams with an RPI in the top 25.
The seeds from 13 to 16 are generally reserved for the smaller schools that get in based on winning their conference tournament. If the Heels continue to lose to teams with higher RPI ratings, their place in the field will become even more shaky.
The Wolfpack will usher the Heels onto unstable ground.
North Carolina's biggest weakness is on the perimeter, and the Wolfpack have a pair of guards that will exploit that deficiency.
Senior Lorenzo Brown and freshman Rodney Purvis are solid offensive players (averaging a combined 22 points and eight assists per game), but their ability to lock down on defense will be most important.
The Heels struggle to create off the dribble and pressure on the ball has drastically delayed the execution of their offense. This was never more apparent than in the Heels' loss to the Miami Hurricanes on Jan. 10.
They have won three in a row since that loss, but the Wolfpack can bring the same type of intensity on defense that gave the Heels problems in that game.
Playing at home won't hurt their chances at victory either. This wouldn't be a horrible loss for the Heels considering the Wolfpack are a quality team playing at home, but how many more losses to ranked teams can the Heels afford?
After losing to the Wolfpack, they may need to knock off someone in the top 25 the rest of the way to ensure they are dancing in March.