UNC Declines to Participate in 2023 NIT After Missing NCAA Men’s Tournament

UNC Declines to Participate in 2023 NIT After Missing NCAA Men’s Tournament
Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVMarch 12, 2023

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 09: Head coach Hubert Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals of the ACC Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 09, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

North Carolina’s men’s basketball season is over.

The Tar Heels announced Sunday that they would be declining a bid to play in the National Invitation Tournament after failing to be selected for the NCAA tournament.

Head coach Hubert Davis released the following statement:

“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. 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. I also want to thank our great fans for their incredible support. Our commitment to you is what drives us to improve our program in every way.”

Given that North Carolina opened as the preseason No. 1 in the rankings, failing to make this year’s tournament was particularly disappointing.

It was also unprecedented:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

For the first time since the field expanded, the preseason No. 1 misses the NCAA Tournament 🤯 pic.twitter.com/1wTSBb4T4v

Brendan Marks @BrendanRMarks

This is the first time since 1974 that North Carolina posted a winning record in ACC and did NOT make the NCAA Tournament.

That’s also the last time a 20-win North Carolina team was omitted from the field. https://t.co/S6qyQnR5fI

Brendan Marks @BrendanRMarks

With North Carolina’s season now officially over, worth noting:

The Tar Heels finished this season as the second-worst 3-point shooting team in program history, making just 31.2% from deep.

The worst? The 2019-20 team, which only made 30.4% of its 3s.

The Tar Heels didn’t miss the tourney by much, however, as they were one of the selection committee’s first four teams out:

CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 @CBSSportsCBB

A look at the Last Four In and First Four Out 👀 pic.twitter.com/kDFOR9sXwF

North Carolina’s 2022-23 meltdown is mystifying. They went from reaching last year’s title game, losing to Kansas, to declining the NIT. And they brought back four players—R.J. Davis, Caleb Love, Leaky Black and Armando Bacot—from that team, so it isn’t as though they could blame youth and inexperience.

“I guess really we weren’t that good,” Bacot bluntly told reporters Thursday.

“The pressure I think can get to everybody,” he added after the team lost to Duke to close the regular season. “I mean, we’re human. I’d definitely say it somewhat got into our locker room.”

The Tar Heels still went 20-13 but struggled against teams that finished ranked this season. They lost to Duke twice, went 1-2 against Virginia, 0-1 against Miami and lost nonconference games against Alabama and Indiana.

“It’s a lot of emotions just to see from last year, the type of run we made,” Davis told reporters. “Like you said, looking from the outside in this year, it’s tough. It’s a tough position to be in.”

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