After a bit of a bumpy start to this season, North Carolina is now flying under the radar. Don’t look now but the Tar Heels have won four in a row and have eclipsed the 20 win mark for the ninth consecutive year.
This is impressive to the fact that the Tar Heels started 0-2 in ACC Conference play and had many fans wondering if this reloading project would ever work. The Tar Heels were also considered a ‘Bubble’ team by many college basketball insiders. Now with their 10-5 conference record, they sit at third place in the ACC and just one game back of Duke for second place.
The two teams will meet in the season finale on March 9th.
Barring a complete collapse, the Tar Heels look to be headed for an NCAA Tournament bid. Right now ESPN’s Bracketology has them at a 8 seed. They have hung around the 8-12 seed all-season long.
Even with their hot play, it hasn’t really gone noticed. You can say that the Tar Heels are flying under the radar among teams in college basketball. Everyone is paying attention to the top teams dropping like fly’s.
That could be a good thing for Carolina.
It’s tough to say the Tar Heels are a serious threat for a National Championship this season, but in this crazy college basketball season anything can happen. The Tar Heels seem to be getting hot and getting hot at the right time could mean a deep postseason run for the boys in Chapel Hill.
So what’s lead to this recent success of the Tar Heels?
It could be the small lineup Roy Williams has implemented first with the Duke game in early February. The lineup has certainly provided a scoring boost to this offense.
Since Roy went with a smaller lineup, the Tar Heels have scored 68 points or more in all five of those games. Their record with this lineup? A cool 4-1. Even their loss at Duke, the Tar Heels played better basketball then they advertised earlier in the year.
With the addition of another scorer like PJ Hairston to the lineup it gives James Michael McAdoo the chance to play the 5 spot on the floor. That allows him to either go in the paint, or back out of it and settle for a outside game which he likes to do. This causes opposing defenses fits as the center doesn’t know how to react.
It also gives Carolina another threat on the perimeter from the get go. However the Tar Heels must not fall in love with the three ball as it will almost certainly come back to bite them down the road.
In their most recent win over Clemson Thursday night the Tar Heels launched a perimeter attack from the start and Clemson couldn’t stop them. They received a overall balanced offensive performance from their starters, and were led by Dexter Strickland’s season high 16 points.
This lineup has seemed to click for the Tar Heels and it’s leading to the Tar Heels clicking as a team. With just three games left on the schedule, Carolina could end up with a first round bye in the ACC Tournament. The toughest game obviously being against Duke, but if the Tar Heels were to win out, they would get at least a three seed in the ACC.
We can’t predict the future so it’s tough to tell if Carolina can make a nice run and keep up this play. But as long as they are flying under the radar and past peoples expectations, it could give them a chance.