Pastner says UNC is a top-10 team, good enough to make Final Four

By R.L. Bynum

If Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner was on the NCAA tournament selection committee, North Carolina would likely be a high seed. If he had a vote in either poll, the Tar Heels would probably be ranked.

He says that you should keep an eye on the Tar Heels and, in fact, he claims to use three.

“You can see I got my third eye. I’ve got two eyes and this eye right here popped out a huge pimple,”  Pastner said Monday at an ACC media availability, pointing to the left side of his forehead. “Because when you play Carolina, that’s the stress. That does that to you. Just forms another eye on your forehead.”

As it stands, the AP poll voters are so unimpressed that UNC only appeared on one ballot, with ESPN’s Dick Vitale voting the Tar Heels No. 24. Jerry Palm’s latest bracket projection has the Tar Heels as the No. 11 seed in the East Region.

Carolina (12–4, 4–1 ACC) gets another chance to improve its standing when it plays at Miami (13–4, 5–1) on Tuesday night at 7 (ACC Network).

After absorbing a pair of one-sided losses to Carolina, the latest an 88–65 setback Saturday in Chapel Hill, Pastner is more than convinced.

“I think North Carolina is really good,” Pastner said. “I think they’re good enough to go the Final Four. They’re a top 10 team. I don’t know why they’re not ranked; I don’t get it. Not having them in the top 10 in the country? I think you’re missing something there.”

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If Carolina finally returns to the poll, Armando Bacot will have a lot to do with it.

Bacot, the ACC player of the week for the second consecutive week, has played himself into the ACC player of the year conversation with back-to-back 29 point games and seven consecutive double-doubles. That has the attention of Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, who calls Bacot a complete player.

“You don’t see a lot of big guys today that can play with the back to the basket. You can throw him the ball, and they can just put the ball in the basket a number of different ways,” Larrañaga said. “He’s playing like a power player. And in today’s game, there’s just so few of those, and he’s doing it so efficiently.

“He’s doing it by outrunning the opponent,” Larrañaga said. “He’s doing it by getting an offensive rebound and he’s doing it by hitting a jump hook. He’s doing it by drop-stepping and dunking on you. He’s doing it by screening and rolling and catching it on the roll and laying it in. He’s doing it by catching it at the high post and driving the ball to the basket. When you have an offensive arsenal like he does, it makes him very, very difficult to guard.”

Larrañaga certainly will be keeping an eye on Bacot, with, at the most, two eyes.

UNC 100, N.C. State 80

DateScore, record/
day, time, TV
LocationOpponent
(current rank)
November (4–2)
583–55 exhibition winHomeElizabeth City State
983–67 win, 1–0HomeLoyola Maryland
1294–87 win, 2–0HomeBrown
1694–83 win, 3–0RoadCollege of Charleston
2093–84 loss, 3–1Uncasville, Conn.Y — No. 7 Purdue
2189–72 loss, 3–2Uncasville, Conn.Y — No. 22 Tennessee
2372–53 win, 4–2HomeUNC Asheville
December (5–1, 1-0 ACC)
172–51 win, 5–2HomeX — Michigan
579–62 win, 6–2, 1-0 ACCRoadGeorgia Tech
1180–63 win, 7–2HomeElon
1474–61 win, 8–2HomeFurman
1898–69 loss, 8–3Las VegasZ — No. 18 Kentucky
2170–50 win, 9–3HomeAppalachian State
January (3–1, 3–1 ACC)
291–65 win, 10–3, 2-0 ACCRoadBoston College
578–73 loss, 10–4, 2-1 ACCRoadNotre Dame
874–58 win, 11–4, 3–1 ACCHomeVirginia
1588–65 win, 12–4, 4–1 ACCHomeGeorgia Tech
18Tuesday, 7, ESPNRoadMiami
22Saturday, 8, ACCNRoadWake Forest
24Monday, 8, ACCNHomeVirginia Tech
26Wednesday, 7, RSNHomeBoston College
29Saturday, 2, ACCNHomeN.C. State
February
1Tuesday, 8, ACC NetworkRoadLouisville
5Saturday, 6, ESPNHomeNo. 8 Duke
8Tuesday, 9, ESPN or ESPN2RoadClemson
12Saturday, 2, ESPN or ESPN2HomeFlorida State
16Wednesday, 8, ACCNHomePittsburgh
19Saturday, 4, ESPN or ESPN2RoadVirginia Tech
21Monday, 7, ESPNHomeLouisville
26Saturday, 2 or 4, ESPN or ESPN2RoadN.C. State
28Monday, 7, ESPNHomeSyracuse
March
5Saturday, 6, ESPNRoadNo. 8 Duke
8–
12
ACC TournamentBrooklyn
RSN — regional sports networks; ACCN — ACC Network; X — ACC/Big Ten Challenge;
Y — Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off; Z — CBS Sports Classic

Photo via @UNC_Basketball

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