Tar Heels Prove They Are Elite


With all the smack talked on North Carolina this season.  All the criticism the team took after every single loss, like other teams in the country were all undefeated or something.  Whether it was the early season loss to the very underrated UNLV.  Or the one point collapses to both Kentucky and Duke.  And of course the beating the team took after the 33 point meltdown loss to Florida State.  The Tar Heels shut everybody up in a big way with a statement, blowout win against Duke in Cameron.

The Tar Heels are as hot as any team in the country aside from Kentucky and Syracuse right now.  Since Austin Rivers hit that three to stun Carolina in the Dean Dome the Heels have won seven straight.   And besides for the Virginia game, they’ve defeated each of those teams by at least nine points.  This against a tough ACC road schedule.  The preseason #1 ranked team is suddenly in prime position as the ACC regular season championship to lock up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Tar Heels are starting to become exactly what we thought they’d be, and that’s bad news for the rest of the country.

Defensively the Heels have missed Dexter Stricklands tough 1 on 1 defense and have been exposed by good perimeter shooting teams.   Since giving up 16 three pointers to Duke in their first meeting.  UNC has tightened up and played much better as a unit defending the three point line.  Strickland’s replacement, Reggie Bullock has been a catalyst along with Harrison Barnes defensively.  Both have done a better job of rebounding lately as well taking pressure off of big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson.  Everybody’s known since the preseason that this team was going to be an offensive juggernaut.  Their improvement on the defensive end has the been the key to their conference success.

On the offensive end it’s been about everybody stepping it up in the half court.  Almost everyone in Roy Williams rotation deserves credit for their improvement in this area.  UNC is without question the best transition team in the nation (tell Syracuse fans to get out of your face).  The half court play was very inconsistent early in the season.  The UNLV and FSU losses had a lot to do with those teams slowing the tempo and the Heels failing to execute in the half court.  The team is showing better patience as a whole and have limited the rushed, ill-advised shots that plagued them early this season.

Harrison Barnes has been much more assertive offensively, looking for his shot more and disappearing less often.  Reggie Bullock’s shot is starting to come around and his overall game is starting to peak out sometimes.  John Henson’s mid range jump shot is starting to fall with more consistency as his post game continues to improve.  I really didn’t think I’d ever get to write this but he’s knocking em down at the free throw line lately also (I pray I didn’t just jinx him).  Tyler Zeller is playing the best basketball of his life and his mid ranger is looking sharp lately as well.  And the most improbably, Kendall Marshall’s evolving offense.  He proved against Duke his performance against NC State was no fluke.  The kid can penetrate and has a nice little finger roll.  He’s knocked down a few jumpers and showed a little range of late.   Even James Michael McAdoo has started to show us a little bit of his game (how bad a$$ was that put back dunk against Duke?).

I came out before the Maryland game and proclaimed that the Heels needed to knock somebody out.  A statement is what UNC needed to desperately make was made Saturday night in Cameron Indoor.  And that statement was simple, the preseason #1 ranking was spot on.  Carolina is exactly who they are supposed to be, an elite team in the nation.  The scary thing, UNC is improving with each game and their potential has yet to be fulfilled.

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