UNC’s NCAA hopes take hit in ACC quarters loss

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina’s already shaky NCAA tournament hopes were dealt a damaging blow Thursday night in a 68-59 loss to No. 13 Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals Thursday night.

This never looked anything like the team that made a magical run to last year’s national championship game, then started the year with four starters back to earn a No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press preseason poll. Now the Tar Heels appear headed toward becoming the first AP preseason No. 1 to miss the tournament since NC State in 1974-75.

“It’s not a great feeling,” second-year head coach Hubert Davis said. “Not the expectations that we had coming into the year. It was definitely frustrating and disappointing, but one thing I can say about this group is we fight to the end.”

Added Davis: “I’m sad and disappointed for [the players] that we’re in this position. Just very sad for them.”

UNC entered Thursday’s quarterfinal with a 1-8 record in the Quadrant 1 games that top an NCAA tournament résumé, with the lone win coming at home against the Cavaliers on Feb. 25 — and that one hovering on the line to fall into Quadrant 2 territory.

Davis, when asked if he had a “pitch” for why his team should get a tournament bid, said he wasn’t thinking about that.

“Our record is our record,” Davis said. “And I know that, I think regardless of our record, I think we have shown throughout the entire year that we can compete and play and beat anybody in the country. But it’s just, I know we played a really tough out-of-conference schedule, I know that the ACC for whatever reason is undervalued as one of the elite, if not the elite, conferences in college basketball. … But at the end of the day, we had chances and for eight or nine of the 13 losses we had, we were up in the second half. And so, we had our chances.”

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