CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The North Carolina Tar Heels will play Texas Southern in opening-round play of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Fri., Mar. 17, in Greenville, S.C.
The Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed in the South Region as announced by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee via a televised broadcast on Sunday.
Texas Southern, champions of the SWAC, is the No. 16 seed.
The winner of that game will play the winner of No. 8-seed Arkansas vs. No. 9-seed Seton Hall.
The Arkansas-Seton Hall game will begin at 1:30 p.m, and precedes the UNC-Texas Southern game scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m.
“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,” Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams said via a prepared communications release.
“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. Plus, we played Duke twice, Virginia twice, things like that during the conference season. I’m just very pleased for our team.”
Williams provided further insight into his teams’ focus heading into Tournament play.
On if his veteran team should use last year’s NCAA Tournament run as motivation this season:
“I think they should use that as motivation. They know how good it felt, so use that as motivation. And then if you happen to get lucky and still be playing that last Monday night, then you really can use last year as motivation. The biggest thing to me is for them to understand how much fun this time of year can be.
“I asked my entire team, ‘What’s the most fun you ever had in basketball?’ Every one of them said last year — the last win over Duke to win the ACC regular season, winning the ACC Tournament and the run to the NCAA championship game. I said, ‘Let’s remember that and make sure we’re focused this year like we were last year.’”
On keeping focused throughout the tournament:
“We’ve always played just for today. 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.”
What does the team need to focus on in the wake of the ACC Tournament loss to Duke?
“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. 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.”