If NCAA Tournament bids were announced today, Duke would probably be a No. 3 seed, and North Carolina would fall to the NIT.
With about five weeks to go, the basketball season is turning out to be a nightmare for UNC and the ACC, and there's hardly any reason for great expectations at Duke.
For the ACC, it's really no surprise. The league has 12 members but essentially has been a two-team operation - North Carolina and Duke - for most of the past 25 years.
Take away the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels, and the ACC is a downsized Atlantic-10, which actually has 14 teams (if anyone really cares).
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But put the Heels at 2-4 in the league and 13-8 overall, their record after Sunday's no-show in the Smith Center against Virginia, and what you have is a repeat of the 2002-03 season. That season, only four ACC teams (Duke, Maryland, N.C. State and Wake Forest) reached the NCAA Tournament, and not one of them advanced past the regional semifinals.
UNC won two NIT games that year for a 19-16 finish after having gone 6-10 in the league.
The last days of January 2010 will be remembered as a snowy weekend in which Duke got embarrassed at Georgetown and North Carolina found a way to go the Devils one better in a 75-60 loss to Virginia.
In direct comparison to the Tar Heels, Duke's players and coaches are relatively fortunate in that their 89-77 loss on Saturday came largely because they were facing a better team on its home court with a lot on the line.
True, the Blue Devils' defense was nonexistent at times. But even on its best day and on a neutral court, Duke would struggle to stop Greg Monroe, Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark.
The Hoyas have Final Four potential, but the fact they're only 6-3 in the Big East translates into another sad statement about the ACC.
There was no such consolation for the Tar Heels. Virginia is a far cry from being Georgetown, the game was in Chapel Hill and UNC should have been desperate to establish some sort of home-court authority.
Instead, Roy Williams got outcoached by Tony Bennett, and the Heels were out-teamed rather than out-talented. Give Williams credit for quickly owning up to his role in the team's dilemma, but that doesn't change the fact that something's gone mysteriously awry.
Realistic UNC fans didn't expect another Final Four run from such an inexperienced team. Something in the 10-6 ACC, 22-9 overall range followed by an NCAA win or two would have been acceptable to most fans, a pleasant surprise to many and ample reason for all to envision big things next season.
The team Williams has delivered is instead creating more cause for alarm than hope. Carolina is losing for all of the wrong reasons - endless defensive breakdowns, careless attention to offensive detail, long stretches of hideous ball-handling and a growing acceptance of defeat.
At the problem's heart is the possibility that Carolina's players are accustomed to winning by using eight parts talent, two parts determination, and they don't know how to revise that equation. They wind up panicking and regularly fall behind early. Panic then morphs into frustration when opponents with less talent but more resolve fail to submit to the mystique of the light blue jerseys.
In the formless ACC, Duke should be fine. The Blue Devils are going to need a lot of good fortune to get to a Final Four or regional championship game, but another impressive record is likely.
North Carolina, however, is squarely in the midst of an emergency. Williams may have no alternative except to blow up the team's foundation and try to rebuild everything on the run down the stretch.