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ACC Roundup - Pitt May Have Wrecked UNC’s NCAA Tournament Chances

What a dreadful night for the Tar Heels

Pittsburgh v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 16: R.J. Davis #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels pauses during the second half of their game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Dean E. Smith Center on February 16, 2022 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Pittsburgh won 76-67.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

In Wednesday’s ACC Action, Miami beat Louisville 70-63, Boston College nearly took down Notre Dame in overtime 99-95 and Pitt gave UNC a potentially fatal blow, beating the Heels in Chapel Hill 76-67.

And it wasn’t anywhere near that close. Pitt just took UNC apart. Only a late rally and some superb play by Caleb Love made that possible. Unfortunately he had a key turnover near the end that derailed UNC’s hopes for a comeback.

You could kind of tell that it wasn’t UNC’s night. Aside from going down 40-23 to an 11-16 team with limited personnel, Armando Bacot had an awful night, hitting 2-6 from the floor and grabbing eight boards. That’s actually not bad but he’s had much, much better rebounding nights. And it wasn't clear enough, Bacot fouled John Hugley - that’s 6-10, 280 lb. John Hugley - on a three point attempt as the shot clock ran out.

It banked in. And Hugley got the free throw too.

Even so, the comeback was a near thing. Bacot sat down with four fouls and a smaller, quicker UNC team gave Pitt fits. But when Brady Manek caught a long inbounds pass and gave it to Love, who as we said had been brilliant in the comeback, Love dropped it out of bounds just over half court.

As we said, it wasn’t UNC’s night.

Or, for that matter, year. At 18-8 and with no meaningful wins, the Tar Heels have no argument for inclusion in the NCAA tournament. And even if they were to sweep the last five games of the regular season, the only place to earn resume brownie points is in Cameron Indoor Stadium, in the final home game of Mike Krzyzewski’s career.

Realistically, they’ll have to win the ACC Tournament to get in.

At 9-15, Boston College isn’t going anywhere either but we’ll say this and most of you, we’d guess, including a lot of UNC fans, would agree: Earl Grant is having a better first year than Hubert Davis and his Eagles have shown a lot more heart than Davis’s Tar Heels.

Latest example: taking Notre Dame to overtime. BC isn’t great but they have some nice pieces: Makai Ashton-Langford, DeMarr Langford, Brendan Galloway, Jaeden Zackery, James Karnik are all helpful. More importantly, they’re all buying in and laying the groundwork for a very solid program.

The difference in this game was from the line, where Notre Dame hit 33-39 to BC’s 13-18.

The difference right now between BC and UNC is that BC’s future looks really bright. Grant just needs players. Davis needs players that care.

With the loss to Miami, Louisville is now on its longest losing streak since the 1940-41 season. To put that in perspective, Franklin Roosevelt was still a healthy president, Harry Truman was mostly unknown, Richard Nixon and John Kennedy were young servicemen and Mike Krzyzewski was about six years away from being born.

We could go on but you get the idea: it was a really long time ago.

The Cards have won just once since January 8th. Malik Williams is back from suspension but Mike Pegues has largely ignored his best big man since: he didn’t get into this game at all. He’s tightened his rotation considerably too: Sydney Curry got 10 minutes off the bench. Matt Cross got seven. Only Noah Locke saw meaningful minutes as a reserve with 21.

You know what’s striking? How many ACC teams basically have lost seasons. We’d say Louisville, arguably UNC, Georgia Tech, NC State, Clemson and Boston College at least and maybe Florida State and Syracuse too. We’d expect a fair amount of coaching turnover in the off-season.

No more games until Saturday, but some of those look pretty interesting so we’ll talk about them more later in the week.

ACC Standings