Dear NCAA Tournament Selection Committee,
I know y’all have some big decisions on deck. Who’s in, who’s out, who to seed where? Should the SoCon get two bids ? (Yes) Should the Pac-12 get only the auto-bid? (Also yes) How about NC State as an at large? (…I’ll leave that up to you).
I can’t imagine, after all the basketball that’s been played nationwide, that your job is easy. But on Friday night in Uptown Charlotte, let me suggest that two teams made a couple of those decisions easy for you.
Put UNC and Duke in as No. 1 seeds.
Any thing less, for either team, after last night’s performance? Well, it would be a shame.
I mean, I get it, y’all have a plethora of numbers and metrics at your disposal to make the decisions ahead of you, even if the people at the top of your sport have no clue how they work.
“I can't tell you right now more than one location for the first rounds next week,” Roy Williams said of his NCAA Tournament plans. “I don't even know what the hell NET means.”
It’s alright Roy, neither do we.
But in the case of seeding the four No. 1 seeds you have at your disposal, y’all don’t even need the NET, SOS, Quadrant 1 vs. Quadrant 4, or anything else y’all can come up with to make an imperfect art of seeding 68 teams from across the country seem plausible to the average fan. Instead, you have some head to head comparisons.
Unfortunately, those head to head results are a wash. UNC has 2-1 record over Duke, but 1-0 when Zion Williamson plays. Gonzaga beat Duke, but fell to UNC. Kentucky blew out UNC, but Duke blew out Kentucky. UVA won in Chapel Hill over UNC, but lost in Cameron and the JBJ to the Blue Devils.
So, I get it. Deciding between the 5-7 teams, throwing in Tennessee and Michigan State in there as well, for the top four spots is imperfect. But, what I’ll implore you to do, before you decide, is to pop in the tape from Friday night. The ACC Tournament semifinals. Where both Duke and UNC shined on the biggest stage.
First, let’s get Duke out of the way. To the victors, go the spoils, even by the thinnest of margins. And man, were they ever worthy.
Zion Williamson, his second game back, tearing through the night with vicious dunks, midair putbacks and shot altering block attempts for 31 points and 11 rebounds.
His freshmen teammates, RJ Barrett and Tre Jones, never leaving the court en route to a combined 26 points, 12 boards, and 11 assists.
Coach K digging deep into his bench, pulling a bucket and two assists out of…who? Antonio Vrankovic? Ok, sure, why not?…while scheming on the fly to shut down UNC’s offensive trio.
I’m assuming, with all that, and a probably ACC title tomorrow, that they’ll be on one of the one seed lines.
But as you’re watching that tape back, don’t for get the team in Carolina Blue and White too.
With the freshman point guard splitting double teams to finish at the hoop. The graduate transfer forward, starving for the glory his classmates have already achieved, drilling threes and, when his shooting went cold, sprinting ahead of the defense on the break for contest layups and dunks. The senior forward, out muscled and out jumped in the post all night, still scrapping his way to 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Sprinting on the break, denying the ball, doing the little things right, even as their three-point shooting couldn’t hit water if it fell out of a boat. Showing, without a doubt, they’re one of the four best teams in the country.
“I think we earned it,” Kenny Williams said. “But again, I don't what goes on in that room, I don't know what the committee thinks about, so we'll be waiting in anticipation just like you guys.”
But don’t take the senior’s word for it, take the word of the NCAA’s star this year, the one that’s made its right holders millions while he sat out because his shoe burst.
“I feel like we can have a chance at a No. 1 seed,” Zion Williamson said of his own' team’s chances. “(UNC) they are a great team. I'm not gonna sit here and say they're not deserving of a No. 1 seed, because they are.”
So, to conclude, I don’t envy your job in the coming days. Particularly when teams on the bubble get outraged they don’t get a shot to go to Dayton to play a play-in game when y’all leave them out. I get that.
But, at the end of the day, you and I both know what we just witnessed. Two of the country’s best, going at each other’s throats for 40 minutes, separated by only one point at the final buzzer.
Two one seeds if I’ve ever seen one.
But hey, that’s for y’all to decide.