I spent a good chunk of my afternoon doing something I didn’t expect to be doing 24 hours earlier, parsing the profiles of the ACC top seed (don’t say “regular season champion,” since no such title exists) North Carolina Tar Heels and ACC Tournament champion Duke Blue Devils. Yes, I could have thrown the Gonzaga Bulldogs in for good measure, but I don’t think the Selection Committee is going to kick a one-loss team that went 6-0 in games against the Top 50, with just one of those wins coming at home, off the top line. And that’s the case even if the West Coast Conference isn’t anywhere near the level of this season’s ACC.
The two teams are remarkably even, sitting right next to each other in the RPI table (UNC ranks fifth, Duke sixth). Both did well in games played against that metric’s Top 100 — Carolina went 17-6; Duke 16-7. And while the Blue Devils would be the first eight-loss team to earn a top seed, the Tar Heels have dropped seven games themselves.
Sitting with a one-stroke lead over Cantlay on the 16th tee, Hadwin cut his tee ball on the 16th left into the water. The wheels were coming off, and the door sat wide open for Cantlay to seize control.
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But comparing the two Tobacco Road rivals will be more difficult. The teams are very close in most of the main factors (quality wins, bad losses, record away from home, RPI), with strength of schedule looking like the main differentiators.
The, after running roughshod through the ACC tournament and becoming the first team to win four games in four days at that conference tilt, grabbed up the East’s No. 2 seed, and they’ll meet No. 15 Troy in the opening round.