CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina has earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for a record 16th time and the seventh time under Roy Williams. The Tar Heels' potential path to the Final Four starts in Greenville, S.C. on Friday as the top seed in the South Regional.
“I’m very pleased with what our team accomplished, because they don’t give those things [No. 1 seeds] away, you have to earn them," Roy Williams said. "I think we’re a top seed for the body of work during the course of the season, winning the ACC regular season by two full games and playing a very good schedule out of conference.
UNC opens tournament play against No. 16 seed Texas Southern. The game will tip at approximately 4 p.m. on TNT. The winner of Friday's contest will advance to Sunday's second round game against either No. 8 seed Arkansas or No. 9 seed Seton Hall.
“We’ve always played just for today." Williams said. "We’ve got to play Texas Southern, and we never focus on anything else. We continually emphasize that to the team. I always tell them if you start looking down the road, that’s when you start heading down the road back home.”
The Tar Heels are making their 48th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, second behind Kentucky’s 56 appearances. UNC has played in a NCAA-record 19 Final Fours. Williams is 26-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64.
UNC has advanced to the Elite Eight or beyond in each of the previous six seasons as a No. 1 seed under Williams.
The other No. 1 seeds are overall top seed Villanova (East), Kansas (Midwest) and Gonzaga (West).
South Region: UNC (1), Kentucky (2), UCLA (3), Butler (4), Minnesota (5), Cincinnati (6), Dayton (7), Arkansas (8), Seton Hall (9), Wichita State (10), Wake Forest/Kansas St. (11), MTSU (12), Winthrop (13), Kent State (14), N. Kentucky (15), Texas Southern (16).
“We’ve got to defend better for sure, but we’ve got to take care of the ball better, got to rebound better, got to have better offense, got to stay out of foul trouble," Williams said. "For us to have an emphasis before the Duke game to play without fouling, then to allow them to shoot 37 free throws, that means we didn’t do a very good job of what we’d focused on.
“So whatever we pick that’s going to be most important for the Texas Southern game, then we’ve got to do a great job of doing those one or two or three things to beat them.”