UNC Tar Heels: 27-6, 16-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference
Head coach: Roy Williams (16th season)
Players to watch: Luke Maye (14.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG); Cameron Johnson (16.9 PPG, .465 3PT%); Coby White (16.3 PPG, 4.2 APG)
Season recap: The Tar Heels entered their regular season as the eighth-ranked team in the nation. After just five losses in the regular season, North Carolina has worked hard to push itself up to third in the nation. The Tar Heels took advantage of Duke’s slump at the end of the season, overtaking the Blue Devils to second in the ACC behind Virginia.
North Carolina’s depth on the court has been a huge factor to a successful season. Senior Luke Maye was named the preseason ACC player of the year and his ability to clean the glass has only been increasing. Besides Maye, Cameron Johnson has been a player to look at for making shots all over the court. Senior Kenny Williams has also showed his ability to step up and sink some needed 3-pointers. The freshmen have been surprising, as Nassir Little hasn’t lived up to the hype he came into college with and Coby White’s performance at point guard has been the talk of the town instead. White managed to break freshmen records at North Carolina, notching three 30-point games.
The Tar Heels will be making their 49th appearance in the NCAA tournament this year with hopes at earning a seventh national championship. North Carolina struggled in the tournament last year, as the team lost to Texas A&M in the second round. The Tar Heels will be out for blood this year and their latest performances proved that they’re up for the challenge.
How they make a run: The Tar Heels’ starters are well balanced both in age and ability; with Johnson’s shooting, Maye’s rebounding and Coby White’s solid play at point guard, North Carolina is able to delegate on the court.
How they falter: North Carolina had a poor start to its season in terms of defense and although it has worked its way up to becoming the 10th best defensive team in the nation according to KenPom.com, it will have to make sure it does not revert back to its old ways against strong offensive teams.