Top seed adds motivation -- sort of

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- What would earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament mean to North Carolina coach Roy Williams?

“Satisfaction for winning more games,’’ he said Monday.

But maybe not a whole lot else.

The fourth-ranked Tar Heels enter this week’s ACC tournament penciled into the last of four No. 1 slots in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s projections. But that could change if they don’t at least make it to Sunday’s championship game (and maybe if they don’t win out).

It gives UNC some motivation.

Well, sort of.

Williams said before UNC beat Duke to win the ACC regular-season championship Saturday that he believes the 16-game ACC schedule should carry more weight than the four-day tournament (he even thinks the regular-season champ should earn the automatic NCAA bid).

He reiterated that the league tournament has been “fantastic,” for a long time, “but all tournaments are overwhelmed by that other tournament that goes on later."

And speaking of that "other tournament" -- that’s always Williams' first focus.

"In '05 and '09, we win the national championship and we didn't win the ACC tournament,’’ he said. “But I think our folks were pretty happy with what did happen."

In those two seasons, UNC nonetheless entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed.

And historically, the Tar Heels have done well when starting from the top. Of the 13 times they have earned a top seed, they have won four national titles (including 1982 and 1993) and advanced to the Final Four on four other occasions: 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2008.

Although as Williams pointed out, they made it all the way to the regional finals as a No. 2 seed last season -- and none of the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds made it to the Final Four.

“I've never been one to think it's a drastic difference from 1 to 2, or 2 to 3, or 5 to 6, or something like that,’’ Williams said. “Yeah, I'd like to have a No. 1 seed. … Supposedly the 16th-seeded team is not as good as the 15th-seeded team so that's a benefit from it as well.

“…[But] it doesn’t mean everything.”

Still, Williams said his team would “try its darndest” to win the league tournament this week, and let the seedings fall where they may.

The Tar Heels, after all, are finally playing their best basketball.

“We have a good vibe going,’’ forward Harrison Barnes said after the Duke win. “We need to keep that going.”

A top seed would keep them from meeting Kentucky, Syracuse and probably Kansas until the Final Four.

Plus, Williams said, "I like winning games."

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.