ELIMINATED - Why the North Carolina Tarheels will win the 2012 NCAA Basketball National Championship - and why they wont
Can the Heels live up to the preseason hype?
It's tournament time again and that means another string of blogs and news reports from 'experts' claiming they know who will win. This article will not do that. Instead, I will be weighing statistics and common sense, detailing why a tournament bound team could win the 2012 National Championship and the reasons why they will be sent home empty handed. In this article I will analyze the North Carolina Tar Heels.
At the beginning of the season, Roy Williams' squad was predicted to run the tables and easily bring home the national title. After a few loses people began to question their greatness though. After a crushing 33 point lose to an unranked Florida State team, the Tar Heels were projected to finish little better than a number three seed for this years tournament. Carolina responded by winning twelve of their last thirteen games, with their only loss coming to Duke at home on a buzzer beater three point shot by Austin Rivers. The Tar Heels didn't fall out of the top 10. In the last game of the regular season UNC was able to steal Duke's spot on Joe Lunardi's number one seeds list, finishing the season ranked fourth in the country.
North Carolina lost a total of 4 regular season games coming against UNLV, Kentucky, Florida State and Duke. All four of these teams finished the season as top 20 teams meaning that Carolina lost to quality teams. Two of these three games were one point loses. The first one point lose came against Kentucky as Anthony Davis blocked John Henson's last second shot, giving Kentucky a 73-72 win. The second one point lose came against Duke as Tyler Zeller had a lapse in defense giving Austin Rivers a wide open three point shot as time expired. Rivers came up big, giving Duke an 85-84 win. Their first lose was a 10 point lose against UNLV, while the lose against Florida State came as they were absolutely blown out 90-57 (UNC's lowest point total of the season while they allowed the most points of the season).
REASONS THEY WIN IT ALL:
1. Ability to score. The Tar Heels have had no lack of scoring outside of the game against Florida State. They are second in the country with an average of 82.3 points per game, only behind Iona at 83.3 ppg. This is due to a lot of fast break or transition points and plenty of offensive rebounds. At the end of the regular season the Tar Heels had outscored their opponents 2551-2052.
2. Transition scoring. The Tar Heels do a lot of their work by speeding up the tempo and scoring on run out plays. This happens because of great speed by the 7'0" tall Tyler Zeller, arguably one of the fastest big men in transition, and the great passing ability of Kendall Marshall. With a few lobs thrown to John Henson and other big men, Tyler Zeller may become even more dangerous.
3. Superb rebounding. UNC leads the nation in rebounding and rebounds per game with 1418 total rebounds and 45.7 rpg. They were second in the nation with 16 offensive rebounds per game. Having 16 offensive rpg allows UNC to take more shots than their opponents.
These aren't the only positives but they are three main reasons why they could carry home another trophy.
REASONS THEY LEAVE EARLY:
1. Lack of closing. In the last few games of the season the Tar Heels showed that they have the ability to close out games. They didn't show this all year. They seemed to lapse a bit in the final Duke game as they nearly allowed Duke to cut their lead to single digits in the second half. This is big because UNC bolstered a 24 point lead going into the half, but allowed Duke to cut it to 12, before finally pulling away. If the Tar Heels fail to close out against teams like Kentucky, Syracuse, or even Indiana they may be watching the championship from their sofa instead of the court.
2. Field goal percentage. The field goal percentage for the Tar Heels is not as good as many would expect. They are shooting 46.2%, which ranks 65th overall. The Tar Heels have very few blemishes and this blemish is erased by their ability to rebound at such a high rate and level. If they face a better rebounding team they could be in trouble.
3. No killer instinct. It is hard to say about any great team, but the Tar Heels have really lacked a killer instinct. In many games this year the team has removed their foot from the gas pedal and expected to coast to victory. When you play the kind of competition the Tar Heels have, it is important to play hard for the whole 40 minutes. The only player that has shown the ability to 'get mean' is John Henson. The Tar Heel are a team that has refused to be the 'bad team,' meaning that they do not want to pile on the points and win by dozens of points. Instead Williams looks to the deep bench early and allows teams to play his third string with their first string. If Roy Williams and his team refuses to deliver the finishing blow, they may be sent away by way of upset.
Stay tuned for more team analysis soon.
How will the North Carolina Tarheels finish the season?
- 64% Tournament champions
- 8% Runner-ups, lose in the championship game
- 12% Final Four appearance
- 12% Elite Eight appearance
- 3% Sweet Sixteen appearance
- 2% No further than the round of 32
This poll is now closed to voting.
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