UNC Basketball: How Tar Heels Can Get off Bubble and into NCAA Tournament

Alex KayCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) dribbles in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Wolfpack 76-65 as the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are squarely on the bubble of the 2013 NCAA tournament and will need to perform well down the stretch in order to reach the Big Dance.

UNC is a respectable 19-8 through a majority of the 2012-13 campaign, and it has four regular-season games left to really make an impression on the selection committee.

With an RPI of 21 and SOS of 11, the Tar Heels are just a few quality wins away from joining the field of 68 and having their name called on Selection Sunday. Let’s take a look at where they can get them. 

Things will get started on Wednesday night against the Clemson Tigers—a team that has suffered tough losses to NC State, Miami and Maryland over the past couple of weeks, with the former two coming by a combined three points.

The contest certainly won't be a cakewalk for coach Roy Williams’ squad. It will definitely be tested against a feisty ACC foe that will not back down from anyone.   

Florida State is up after, but the Seminoles are having a down year and this one should be an easy victory for the Tar Heels. A loss here would be a huge blemish on North Carolina’s resume at the most inopportune of times, so it must soundly walk away with a “W.”

Maryland, another bubble team, serves as the final road opponent UNC must face and is an extremely important battle. If the Tar Heels can steal one on the road against the Terps, they will almost surely be dancing.

Of course, if the Heels wind up winning all three, there should be little doubt about their resume for March Madness. However, if they stumble, the season finale against No. 3 Duke will be the most anticipated game of the year in Chapel Hill.

It would be a rematch of a Tobacco Road matchup won by the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor back on Feb. 13, in which the Tar Heels gave a sound effort but fell five points short.

If UNC could keep things that close again—or even score an improbable win—the team would undoubtedly be selected to participate in the Big Dance.

As always, the Tar Heels have a chance to impress the committee during the ACC tournament, and a run to the semifinals or further would certainly secure a spot in the 68-team field. In fact, if UNC could outright win the tourney, it would receive an automatic bid and head to the dance as one of the higher seeds.

North Carolina has battled its way back into contention and is right on the cusp of dancing, so make sure you keep an eye on these young players as they try to dot the I’s and cross the T’s leading up to Selection Sunday.