The Tar Heels’ NCAA Tournament hopes officially ended when they learned they were among the first four teams not invited to the dance.
Leading up to selection Sunday many thought UNC would not make the tournament, but players and fans were still holding on to a shred of hope that the committee would find a way to sneak them in. When the last teams were revealed at 7pm, North Carolina had a decision to make. Would they continue their season, accepting a bid to the NIT – deemed by many as the tournament to see who the “69th best team” in the country is – or would they lick the wounds that came with a disappointing year and head into the offseason?
UNC chose the latter – sending out a press release at 7:19pm announcing they’d chosen not to participate in the NIT.
“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,” Hubert Davis said in the announcement.
“Although we no longer have that opportunity and this season wasn’t what we had hoped for, I want to thank our players and staff for their hard work and love for Carolina Basketball. 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 ACC and NCAA championships.”
Hubert Davis and his players did the right thing deciding to move on from this disappointing year. Just like a bad game, some things are just better being left in the past.
What positive could the Tar Heels take from playing in the NIT? The embarrassment of being the first preseason number one team to miss the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 is already tough for a bunch of 19, 20 and 21 year olds. Just think of the microscope that would be on UNC if they played in the NIT. Winning would be a decent consolation prize, but anything less would further the embarrassment of a season deemed by many as the most disappointing in UNC history.
The only way accepting an invitation to the NIT would benefit the Tar Heels is if Davis exclusively played his bench in order to get them valuable minutes they weren’t able to get during the season. That would allow the coaching staff to evaluate the status of this team moving forward, but somehow UNC would be criticized for that as well. Hubert had to do what’s best for the team and that’s taking a break away to recover physically, and more importantly mentally, from the year.
The Tar Heels conclude the 2022-23 men’s basketball season with a 20-13 record.