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NCAA March Madness: How many times have UNC missed the tournament?

It’s been a disappointing year for the North Carolina Tar Heels but not the first time they have missed the Big Dance.

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 09: R.J. Davis #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after being called for a foul Virginia Cavaliers during the second half in the quarterfinals of the ACC Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 09, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina.   Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by GRANT HALVERSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

As regular seasons go, this year’s has been a particularly painful anticlimax for the North Carolina Tar Heels. They started out as the top preseason team in the AP rankings with a 20-10 record and 1532 points in 2021-22, replacing Gonzaga as the best team in the land. Some had even had UNC down to make it all the way to the title game or at least the Final Four. But it wasn’t to be. A consecutive run of defeats, losing to Iowa State, Alabama, Indiana and Virginia Tech saw the Tar Heels tumble down to 25th place before Christmas.

Virginia hammered the final nail in the coffin, beating UNC 68-59 last week. They become the first No.1 preseason team to miss the Big Dance since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

NIT in 2010

It’s not the first time that North Carolina have missed the tournament. They were left out in the cold in 2010. Roy Williams’ team lifted the title in 2009 but ended the following year with a combined 16-16 record and accepted a bid to take part in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) instead - a less prestigious competition for teams that do not receive a berth in the NCAA tournament. They finished 20-17, losing the final at Madison Square Garden to Dayton 79-68.