North Carolina Tar Heels: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

University of North Carolina Tar Heels (6 Seed, East Bracket)

Record: 23-9 (13-5 Atlantic Coast Conference)

Coach: Roy Williams

Tournament Birth: At-Large Bid

Big Wins: Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Duke

Big Losses: Texas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Duke, Virginia

The North Carolina Tar Heels are one tournament team with some serious identity issues. Roy Williams squad began the year matching every impressive victory that it would garner with an equally head scratching loss. The No. 15 Tar Heels lost to mid-major, Belmont, for example, but followed that up with taking down then No. 3 Louisville in the Hall of Fame Tournament in Connecticut. From there North Carolina lost to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, but responded by bringing down then No. 1 Michigan State and No. 11 Kentucky.

The Atlantic Coast Conference season was provided more Jekyll and Hyde syndrome for the Tar Heels, but this time Roy Williams’ boys sandwiched all of the good between the bad. North Carolina began ACC play with three straight defeats to Wake Forest, Miami and Syracuse. Two weeks later, however, the Tar Heels began what would become a 12-game winning streak, rattling off victories over the likes of N.C. State (twice), Pittsburgh, then No. 5 Duke and Florida State. Of course, they had another identity crisis to close the regular season by falling to Duke. They followed this loss up with a quarterfinal loss in the ACC tournament to Pittsburgh.

Roy Williams team has proven that it can definitely play with any team in the nation. The question is which North Carolina team will show up? With the ball in sophomore guard Marcus Paige’s hand, however, it is not smart to bet against the Tar Heels. Paige is averaging over 17 points and four assists per game while providing automatic points at the free-throw line with 88 percent accuracy.

 

                   Top Players

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

Marcus Paige

17.4

.440

.880

.391

James M. McAdoo

14.2

.461

.537

.000

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

James M. McAdoo

6.7

2.6

4.0

0.9

Brice Johnson

6.2

2.2

4.0

1.2

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Marcus Paige

4.3

1.5

2.1

2.0

J.P. Tokoto

3.0

1.6

1.9

1.5

Starting Five

F –   James Michael McAdoo

F –  J.P. T0koto

F –  Kennedy Meeks

G – Marcus Paige

G – Leslie McDonald

Who’s Hot: Marcus Paige. The sophomore guard scored 27 points in the tourney loss to Pittsburgh and 24 in the regular season finale against Duke. Over those two games the first team ACC selection shot 53 percent. He normally averages 17.4 points on 44 percent shooting.

Who’s Not: Tar Heel team defense. While not North Carolina’s strong suit to begin with, Roy Williams’ club has let the flood games fly open during their recent two-game slide. The Tar Heels gave up 93 points to Duke and 80 points to Pittsburgh for an 86.5 two-game average. North Carolina allowed an average of 69.1 points during the regular season.

Outlook: North Carolina has the firepower to duke it out with any team in the nation. They have already proven that with victories over Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. The question is, who will show up to the Big Dance, the good Heels or the bad Heels? Opening up in the East Region against No. 11 seed Providence, North Carolina received a favorable draw. If they can get by the red hot Friars, they will most likely face the equally uneven Iowa State, who also does not seem to know for sure what its identity is. In this battle of multiple personalities, it is anyone’s guess who will come out on top.

Commentary by Jeremy Mika

Sources:
CBS Sports
Basketball State
ESPN 

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