The North Carolina Tar Heel men’s basketball team will open up the ACC regular season Sunday night on the road. They will playing against a surprising 10-3 Virginia Cavaliers team. With 18 regular season conference games, how will the Heels end up and will they make the NCAA tournament or be irrelevant in the NIT?
One of the largest problems the Heels are going to have this year is defending teams that have a dominant post player and/or a team with an outstanding point guard. The defense on the block this year has been suspect at times and Marcus Paige must continue to grow defensively for the Heels. So those are the teams that the Heels need to be concerned about the most.
I firmly believe that UNC will get wins against the lowly teams of the ACC. These teams being Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Clemson. At this point Miami is so inconsistent that I feel UNC will get wins against them as well. Given the Tar Heels’ schedule, that is 8 wins right there. Now for the other 10 games.
As stated before, the Cavaliers are 10-3 this season. However, none of the teams were ranked and none of the wins are notable aside from maybe winning at Wisconsin. One of their wins was a 46-38 stinker against Tennessee. They are only averaging 64 points a game which leads me to believe that the Tar Heel offense should be able to outscore them even if their defense is questionable. That is wins 9 and 10.
Georgia Tech looked pretty good until they played Saturday. Miami crushed them by 13 points and held them to a season low 49 points. GT’s leading scorer at 11.5 is freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt. I predict the Heel’s will be able to shut hum down much like they did UNLV’s freshman Anthony Bennett. That should have these games end in the same result – Tar Heel wins 11 and 12.
Maryland and NC State are teams that will give UNC trouble. These are both high scoring teams with the potential on any given night to put up 100 points. The Wolfpack came into the season with super high expectations because of a great recruiting class to add to their all-star C.J. Leslie. The Terrapins have surprised many people by hanging with then ranked #3 Kentucky before losing by only 3 and then winning out the rest of the season thus far. The biggest issue from both of these teams is that they both shoot better than 50% from the floor. Also, each team has more than 1 player that averages double digit points per game. This will create a huge problem for Roy Williams and the Heels if individual defensive effort is not stepped up. I predict that the Tar Heels will split games with both of these teams. That puts the Heels at 14-2 so far.
Then there is those 2 little ol’ games that make national attention. I hear it is some rivalry or something. Yes, I am referring to the Duke Blue Devils. As mentioned before, Duke is great all-around team. Mason Plumlee has been playing up to the hype this year that the Plumlee brothers have received in recent years. Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly have also been having outstanding seasons. The Blue Devils have so many weapons that it is going to be very difficult for the Tar Heels to compete with them. These 2 games just do not look good for UNC faithful this year. Optimistically I would like to say they will split the series based on the sheer rivalry. I just do not see it happening this year though. The Heels will lose both of these games and finish 14-4. A 24-7 record will be good enough to make it to the big dance though probably as a 4 or 5 seed.