CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- It was no surprise to North Carolina coach Roy Williams that his team made the NCAA tournament. But the Tar Heels’ seeding, destination and the number of ACC teams that made it? That, he said, was a shock.
“It was a confusing [selection] show,’’ Williams said Tuesday. “And I’m still confused.”
Despite winning eight of their last 10 games, making it to the ACC tournament championship game and boasting a No. 17 RPI, the Tar Heels ended up with a No. 8 seed in the South, where they will play ninth-seeded Villanova on Friday in Kansas City. Win that, and they’ll likely end up playing top-seeded Kansas -- Williams’ former team.
The Selection Committee always insists that they don’t finagle for certain match-ups (and reiterated that this year; click here for Inside Carolina's story about what the Selection Committee chairman had to say about UNC). But Williams, who has lost twice to the Jayhawks in the post-season since he came to UNC in 2003, isn’t exactly buying it.
“I’m not much of a buyer right now, guys,’’ he said. “They can say anything they want to say, and they’ve got numbers to substantiate it, and you can sit right across the table from them, and substantiate it with some other numbers. They don’t put North Carolina at Kansas City to fill the arena; the arena is going to be full if [the Jayhawks] play Slippery Rock.”
Upsetting to Williams, too, was the fact that the ACC only earned four bids. Miami, which beat UNC in the league championship game, is the only team to win the outright ACC regular-season title and the tournament, but not earn a No. 1 seed. Williams was so impressed with the Hurricanes this season that he went into the locker room after losing at Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday and congratulated the Miami players.
But the Canes earned a No. 2 seed along with Duke; NC State is also a No. 8; and Maryland (No. 71 RPI) and Virginia (76) missed the 68-team cut.
“I was disappointed for our league; two 2s and 2 8s,’’ he said. “I didn’t think that was good for our league, I didn’t think that was necessarily fair for our league.”
Despite his angst, Williams emphasized that no matter the Tar Heels’ seeding, destination or opponent, “you’ve still got to frickin’ play.” And play well.
“Anybody that beats Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette and Syracuse down the stretch, that’s pretty doggone impressive,’’ Williams said of Villanova. "And you’ve got to understand that."
STITCHES UPDATE: Sophomore P.J. Hairston, who needed eight stitches between the middle and ring fingers on his left hand after he sustained a cut in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, said the stitches may come out prior to UNC’s first tournament game.
“They told me five to seven days, so hopefully it will be before the game Friday, or after,’’ he said.
Hairston said there has been so much tape on his non-shooting hand that if feels like a cast, but it has not affected him too much. He was 3-for-10 with 13 points in the semifinals against Maryland, and an impressive 9-for-17 (with six 3-pointers) in the championship game loss against Miami.