UNC Athletics

The place was sold out and popping minutes before tip-off, a capacity crowd clearly pumped to watch history between in-state rivals -- specifically Mike Krzyzewski's final time coaching inside the Dean Smith Center. It looked like a great Duke-North Carolina game. It sounded like a great Duke-North Carolina game. But once the ball was tossed into the air Saturday night, the game quickly morphed into something that more or less looked like every other game North Carolina has played against an elite opponent this season.

"We didn't play smart," said first-year UNC coach Hubert Davis. "We didn't play together."

It's a recurring theme.

Coach K's final game at the Dean Dome doubled as UNC's latest ass-whipping. Duke made eight of its first nine shots, jumped to a 19-5 lead, led by as many as 28, never let the Tar Heels get it to single digits at any point in the final 36 minutes and cruised to an eventual 87-67 victory. The Blue Devils shot 57.6% from the field, 47.4% from 3-point range and 76.9% from the free-throw line while handing North Carolina its seventh loss of the season, five of which have been embarrassing blowouts. UNC has lost by 17 points to Tennessee, by 20 points to Duke, by 22 points to Wake Forest, by 28 points to Miami and by 29 points to Kentucky. Translation: When the Tar Heels play good teams, they usually get rolled. They still have zero wins over top-40 opponents. They are now 0-7 in Quadrant 1 opportunities.

Zero. And. Seven.

What makes that lousy record even worse is the fact that, based on the current NET rankings, UNC only has three more Quadrant 1 opportunities on the schedule -- at Clemson on Tuesday, at Virginia Tech on Feb. 19, and at Duke on March 5. KenPom projects North Carolina to be an underdog in all three games. So the Tar Heels really are at risk of entering Selection Sunday with zero Quadrant 1 wins.

With this in mind, I asked CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, our resident Bracketology Expert, if UNC fans should feel confident that the Tar Heels can receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they do actually enter Selection Sunday with zero Quadrant 1 wins.

"No," he responded. "They don't even have any good Quadrant 2 wins."

OK then.

Also worth noting: Since the NCAA's NET rankings became the selection committee's grouping tool three seasons ago, exactly zero teams with no Quadrant 1 wins have received at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. So history is not on the Tar Heels' side. And where Davis is taking this program after succeeding Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams last April is already being called into question by some UNC fans.

Is that fair?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, it's unavoidable considering North Carolina has gone from a team ranked 19th in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll to a team that can't even really compete with Top 25 teams. The Tar Heels started two seniors, one junior and two sophomores against Duke. It was a starting lineup that featured four former top-75 prospects and a fifth player who is a transfer who averaged double-figures for an NCAA Tournament team last season. In other words, it's not that North Carolina is too young to be good, and it's not that North Carolina isn't talented enough to be good. North Carolina just isn't good for reasons that are tougher to make sense of unless, of course, the obvious reason is the actual reason, and I write that as someone who respects Davis and thought it was sensible to promote him when Williams retired.

Undeniably, though, it's not going well.

Perhaps Davis can turn things around in time. As always, we'll see. But if he doesn't get this team to a place where it can compete with good teams soon, the Tar Heals are going to spend March playing in the NIT for the first time since 2010.