No. 5 North Carolina lost at No. 23 Virginia on Monday. That happens. An elite team going against a pretty darn good conference rival on the road – that is what college basketball is all about. But the loss wasn’t as surprising as the way it happened. North Carolina lost 53-43.

The Tar Heels (25-6) usually put up 43 points in a half. Not Monday.

It’ll be interesting to see how this loss affects their candidacy for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“Well, they’re still on the top line, but they are also in danger of being jumped by (a Pac-12 team),” CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Louisville is right behind them. If Louisville were to win the ACC Tournament, they would have a strong case for a No. 1 seed, too. It’s going to be pretty fluid, the top of the bracket. The 1s and the 2s are so close together. There’s no dominant team in college basketball this year. All of those teams are probably a bad week from being down a line.”

As of now, Palm’s four No. 1s are Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga and North Carolina, which are ranked first, second, fourth and fifth, respectively. If a Pac-12 team bumps Carolina for a top seed, the ACC could be left out of the No. 1 discussion, despite having the most teams in the tournament.

“Nine and it could be 10,” Palm said, when asked how many ACC teams will make the tourney. “It’s going to take probably the right set of circumstances to happen for it to be 10, and 10 would be at least a record in terms of the percentage of the members of your conference. The Big East one year had 11 out of 16. The ACC one year had six out of nine. But 10 out of 15 would match that. Two-thirds of your conference in the tournament is a pretty darn good year for your league, and if you’re one team short, that’s still a pretty darn good year for your league.”

Palm believes that the quality of the bubble will be better this year than it was last year.

“Last year, the quality of the bottom of the bracket was really poor, and the committee was forced to take six reams that had something negative about them that, in just about any other year, they would not have taken them,” Palm said. “I don’t think it’s going to be quite that bad this year. I think this is going to be more of an average quality to the bottom of the bracket.”


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