The selection committee didn't do North Carolina any favors when it handed the Tar Heels a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. But the Tar Heels are playing their best basketball of the season right now, and they have the talent to take it deep.
But will they?
I have compiled the predictions of some of the top experts in college basketball, and there seems to be a consensus among them. Let's just say it doesn't involve a third straight Elite Eight appearance.
If you've looked at the bracket, you know what that means. And ESPN's Myron Medcalf wasn't the least bit shy about featuring North Carolina in his "10 Bold Predictions":
The second-round matchup possibility between North Carolina and Kansas is intriguing. Williams against his former team. Again. I’m sure TV execs are salivating over the possibility.
But I think Villanova will spoil those blue-blood plans with a round of 64 win over the Tar Heels.
The Wildcats have defeated better teams within the past month (Georgetown, Marquette). Plus, they have a 6-foot-7, 260-pound bruiser named JayVaughn Pinkston who could be a problem for North Carolina’s small (quick) lineup.
It’s a great storyline, Williams versus Self, given the history. Too bad we won’t see it.
Did I already say "ouch"?
Positive takes on UNC's chances are pretty rare, but NBC Sports' Rob Dauster is saying Kansas isn't the clear winner if these teams meet in Round 3:
It’s more than just the Roy Williams thing. UNC actually has a chance to win this game.
Going four guards, spreading the floor and forcing Withey to defend on the perimeter is how Oklahoma beat Kansas and how Iowa State nearly beat Kansas twice. That’s what the Heels will do.
So you're telling me there's a chance...
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde had a slightly different take on North Carolina's chances:
Roy Williams, North Carolina. Titles won: 2005, '09. Both at North Carolina. Chances of another one this year: Not bloody likely.
Forde didn't waste any words dropping that bomb on Chapel Hill.
OK. Perhaps Forde and Medcalf are clueless. There is no college basketball analyst I respect more than ESPN's Jay Bilas.
Tell me you have good news for all the hopeful Tar Heels out there, Jay.
No. 8 North Carolina and No. 9 Villanova: Both teams play small lineups, but Villanova has more capable big guys. North Carolina is a good team that has really improved over the course of the season, and Ryan Arcidiacono is a tough player who has earned the respect of his opponents. North Carolina is the better 3-point shooting team, and should move on.
There we go. That's a start. What about Kansas?
No. 1 Kansas over No. 8 North Carolina: The Jayhawks are bigger inside, but Jeff Withey can move his feet well enough to play James Michael McAdoo on the perimeter or inside. Kansas will win and advance.
CBS Sports offered up 12 of its top college basketball experts to the millions of bracket fanatics around the country.
No breakdowns or hurtful words here; just 12 different brackets with mostly the same conclusion when it comes to North Carolina.
Gary Parrish: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Gregg Doyel: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Peter Tiernan: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Jeff Borzello: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Matt Norlander: Round 2, Villanova defeats North Carolina
Jerry Palm: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Dennis Dodd: Round 2, Villanova defeats North Carolina
Mateen Cleaves: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Wally Szczerbiak: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Pete Gillen: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Alaa Abdelnaby: Round 3, Kansas defeats North Carolina
Jeff Goodman: Sweet 16, Michigan defeats North Carolina
There's the ugly duckling. As long as the round has a name, I can live with it.
One more year, P.J.
As much as I want to be positive about North Carolina, I simply can't argue with the experts.
It's not that this team doesn't have the talent to come away with a title—or beat Kansas, for that matter. The Triangle Trio of James Michael McAdoo, P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock is a force. Marcus Paige is finding his way.
Hell, even Roy Williams is adapting to his players.
But no matter how much potential this team has to be great, something always goes wrong against the best opponents. The Tar Heels have no wins against the current Top 25 teams.
In fact, they only beat one ranked team all season. That was when UNLV was No. 20 in the nation. And it was at Chapel Hill.
I do believe the Tar Heels will get through Villanova in Round 2. But I just don't see them beating Kansas.
Not only do the Tar Heels have a tendency to fold against the best opponents, they won't exactly be playing in friendly territory. The game is just down the road from KU, which means there will be a lot of Jayhawks fans cramming into the arena.
That's one thing.
The other is those fans' hatred for Roy Williams. When he left Kansas for his alma mater, he became the coach version of LeBron James in Ohio. It also isn't far from Iowa, where Roy has a reputation for stealing talent.
It's one thing to be just another visitor. It's another to be despised.
Sorry Tar Heel Nation. The committee handed North Carolina an early out this season.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game