UNC Takes Embarrassing NIT Pass After Historic Choke Job
The North Carolina Tar Heels haven’t missed the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since 2010. This season, though, the team started the year as the No. 1 team in college basketball and missed out on March Madness after posting a 20-13 record in the 2022-23 season. While that collapse is historic, it’s not as embarrassing as UNC pouting like babies and refusing to go to the NIT Tournament.
UNC NIT stance makes March Madness miss more embarrassing
North Carolina made an incredible run in the 2022 March Madness tournament, making it all the way to the Final Four. They then beat their blood rival, Duke, before making a stunning comeback against Kansas in the final that fell just short, 72-69.
For the 2022-23 season, the team returned six of the seven players who played in last season’s final: Armando Bacot, RJ Davis, Caleb Love, Leaky Black, Puff Johnson, and Justin McKoy.
When the new season started, it was no surprise that the team that only lost Brady Manek from its NCAA tournament finals team was the No. 1 team in the country on the AP poll.
However, the 2022-23 UNC season didn’t go as expected for head coach Herbert Davis and company.
The team started 5-0 during the cupcake part of their schedule, but a 70-65 loss to Iowa State kicked off a four-game losing streak that the Tar Heels would never truly recover from.
Two losses to Duke and an 11-9 ACC record followed and included the team going 4-6 down the stretch. In the ACC tournament, UNC beat Boston College in the opener but fell to Virginia in Round 2, ultimately ending their March Madness hopes.
By not making the tournament, UNC became the first team to miss out on March Madness after starting the season No. 1 since the tournament expanded to 64-plus teams in 1985. That is an ugly record to hold for a decorated team like the Tar Heels. But as the team with the second-most NCAA Men’s basketball tournaments of all time (52), it’s just a small blip on the UNC radar.
What the team should be ashamed of is what happened right after the Selection Show.
After missing out on March Madness, UNC announced it would not participate in the second-tier NIT tournament.
“All season our focus and goal have been on being the best team we can possibly become and reaching our full potential to give us another opportunity to compete, play for and win an NCAA championship,” UNC head coach Hubert Davis said in a statement. “Many factors go into postseason play and we believe now is the time to focus on moving ahead, preparing for next season and the opportunity to again compete for the ACC and NCAA Championships.”
Somewhere in that word salad is probably Davis’ reasoning for not playing in the NIT tournament. However, it just seems like a big pile of sour grapes.
The NIT isn’t March Madness, but it is still an essential piece of college basketball. It allows lesser teams to play on a big stage and players and programs to get exposure against storied programs like North Carolina. However, Davis doesn’t seem to think his squad has an obligation to do this.
Missing the Big Dance from the No. 1 spot isn’t great, but down seasons happen. Skipping the NIT is a black eye for one of the most storied programs in college basketball history.