The North Carolina Tar Heels are one of the hottest and most underrated teams in the country. Even with being ranked #14 and winners of 12 games in a row, UNC isn’t getting the love it should be getting nationally. The main reason for that is those terrible losses they had early in the season. Here’s the worst of the losses:
5. vs Texas: This had to be the most emotional day of the entire season to that point. Leslie McDonald was finally cleared to play and at that same moment, it was clear that P.J. Hairston’s career as a Tar Heel had come to a sad end. I believe this team was trying to hold the fort down until their star was eligible and when it was official that he wasn’t coming back – this squad went into a tailspin and that started with Texas. Although the Longhorns are good team I believe they caught an emotionally drained team and took advantage like a good team would. Carolina gave up 53 points in the first half and they couldn’t overcome that. UNC had a chance to tie the game with seconds remaining but a Marcus Paige 3-pointer went in and out and Carolina suffered a somewhat surprising home L.
4. at Wake Forest: Entering the ACC portion of the schedule, the up and down Tar Heels were a major mystery. Many UNC fans thought a trip to Winston-Salem would be just what the doctor ordered. As we would find out, that was just wishful thinking. Carolina played OK in the first half and were only down by 2 at the break. But in the second half they got out hustled, out coached and out played. Wake sliced and diced the Heels, getting lay-ups at will off of back door cuts. It was one of the worst defensive outing of the season. And judging from the beat down UNC put on the Demon Deacons in the rematch, Roy Williams didn’t let them forget about the debacle at Wake.
3. vs Miami: Carolina had just gotten carved up by Wake, so a home game against the rebuilding Miami Hurricanes would be a nice confidence builder as well as an easy conference win right? Not so fast. Once again the Tar Heels got off to a slow start and allowed an inferior opponent to get an early cushion. UNC made several runs but could never get over the hump and eventually suffered it’s 4th straight loss to the canes. Carolina was now 0-2 in the ACC, losing to teams that will end up near the bottom of the league standings.
2. at UAB: This game was supposed to be nothing more than Roy Williams doing a favor former UNC assistant and UAB head coach Jerod Haase. I guess somebody forgot to tell those UAB players because they beat Carolina playing Carolina basketball. The Blazers dominated the boards, controlled the tempo and were the better team defensively. The Tar Heels on the other hand couldn’t make layups or jump shots and once again they struggled from the free throw line. They were 4-11 from the charity strike in a game they lost by 4 points. It was also evident that the foul line would be an issue for the entire season.
1. vs Belmont: Speaking of free throw shooting, this is the game where it really reared its ugly head. The Tar Heels shot 22-48 from the line as a team and J.P. Tokoto missed 12 by himself. Even with the woes form the free throw line, Carolina had several chances to win this game. But they didn’t. UNC fell behind in the first 20 minutes but they had an 8 point lead with 2 and half left in the game and still couldn’t finish the deal. They allowed the Bruins to hang around and hang around until they stole one. It looked as if this game was over…then Belmont began raining three’s. The Tar Heels got sloppy and them J.J. Mann stung them. When the game got close Carolina couldn’t make free throws or get a stop when they needed too. This loss was as bad as any team in the country had all season and it may haunt the Heels come selection Sunday.