North Carolina got the best of both worlds with its NCAA tournament draw.
The Tar Heels (25-10), the No. 2 seed in the West region, get to start close to home, in Charlotte on Friday against No. 15 Lipscomb (23-9), and potentially get to go somewhere warm if they win two games.
After a week in freezing temperatures in New York, UNC coach Roy Williams said he wanted some sunshine. The West region site is Los Angeles.
But, first things first, Williams will try to improve to 28-0 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament with a matchup against the Bisons, the Atlantic Sun champions, on Friday at Spectrum Center in Charlotte.
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The winner of No. 7 Texas A&M (20-12) and No. 10 Providence (21-13) awaits in a potential second-round matchup for UNC, which was sent to Charlotte instead of Duke.
UNC’s resume, with 14 “Quadrant 1” wins, and the No. 1-ranked strength of schedule, was deemed superior to Duke’s by the NCAA tournament selection committee. UNC also beat Duke twice, including in the ACC tournament on Friday. Duke was sent to Pittsburgh as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region.
Home-cooking has been good for the Tar Heels, who have 16-0 record under Williams in NCAA tournament games played in this state. They have a 6-0 mark in Charlotte with first- and second-round wins there in 2005 and ’11 and two regional wins there ’08.
Lipscomb, a private school from Nashville, finished second in the Atlantic Sun in the regular season but won the conference tournament with a 108-96 win over top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the championship game.
The Bisons, under fifth-year coach Casey Alexander, are making their NCAA tournament debut.
There are some familiar foes in the Tar Heels’ portion of the bracket. UNC beat Providence in the second round of the 2016 NCAA tournament in Raleigh. The Friars are a dangerous No. 10 seed. They have wins over Villanova and Xavier, a pair of No. 1 seeds from the Big East, in the past month.
Xavier (28-5) is the No. 1 seed in the West. Michigan (28-7), the Big Ten champions, is the No. 3 seed. UNC beat the Wolverines 86-71 on Nov. 29 in Chapel Hill in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The No. 4 seed in the West is Gonzaga (30-4). UNC beat the Bulldogs last year in the national title game.
The Heels also have a win over No. 5 seed Ohio State from the regular season.