Gerry Broome/Associated Press
North Carolina has won nine consecutive games. Its last loss came way back on January 20 at Virginia.
Throughout the five weeks of this winning streak, Carolina beat the conference's second-best defensive team as far as opponents’ points per game (Clemson).
The Heels beat the ACC's leading shooter and scorer (T.J. Warren of NC State).
They took down the conference's second-best team according to Sports-Reference's Simple Rating System (Pittsburgh).
They also beat the team that SRS marks as the very best team in the ACC (Duke).
The last four games on Carolina's regular-season schedule are as follows: at NC State, at Virginia Tech, vs. Notre Dame and at Duke.
Carolina should be a heavy favorite in each of those first three contests. Even on the road, NC State and VT pose little threat to UNC if the Heels are playing with full effort. The same goes for the March 3 game against ND.
Assuming there is no looking ahead happening or complacency setting in, UNC should be able to extend its winning streak to a stellar 12 games heading into the season's final contest, March 8 against the Blue Devils.
Of course, everyone is familiar with what North Carolina is capable of...so those three wins are no guarantee.
In the new, expanded Atlantic Coast Conference, all 15 teams will make the conference tournament. However, getting into the top four is paramount.
The bottom six teams (seeds 10 through 15) will play each other in the first round on March 12. The winners of those three games, along with seeds five through nine, will all play in the second round the following day. Thus, the top four seeds in the conference receive two byes in the ACC tournament, not playing until March 14, possibly against a team that has already slugged through two straight days of games.
Right now, the ACC standings look like this: