North Carolina Tar Heels
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #1 ACC
North Carolina Team Page
We here at College Sports Madness are just as incredulous as residents of Chapel Hill. For the first time in recent memory, the North Carolina Tar Heels come into a season as underdogs. They can’t break out the “Nobody Believes in Us” card quite yet, since they still rank in the top dozen in the nation in both the AP and USA Today preseason polls. However, both voting establishments as well as many other ranking fraternities outside of this site have chosen NC State and Duke as being better than the Tar Heels. Duke we can understand. These things happen. But the Wolfpack too? Outside of ’09-’10 (the year between Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall) UNC has not finished outside of the top two in the conference regular season or tournament since Roy Williams’ first year at the school.
2011-2012 Record: 32-6, 14-2
2011-2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Roy Williams
Coach Record: 257-68 at North Carolina, 675-169 overall
Perennial preseason All-American candidate Harrison Barnes is now in the NBA. ACC Player of the Year Tyler Zeller is also in the NBA. ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson is currently in the NBA. I am sensing a pattern. Point guard and offensive catalyst Kendall Marshall is, you guessed it, in the NBA as well. These four men take with them from last year’s team 68% of the points scored per game, 61% of the rebounds grabbed, 77% of the assists handed out, and 82% of the shots blocked on a per game basis. The departure of four players of such high stature and production would be crushing, nearly program-crippling for a school who recruits at just an average level. For UNC, it will still be a huge blow. We all saw during the end of last season how even the first three all struggled once Kendall Marshall went down with an injury. Now the entire offense is forced to regroup and reorganize itself around a very young core led by a freshman point guard.
Every Tar Heel fan had a huge sigh of relief when power forward James Michael McAdoo decided to return to school for his sophomore season. He could have tested the professional waters, as he was being projected as a possible lottery pick even with very little production off the bench, but instead returned to be the focal point of North Carolina’s team. McAdoo has all the tools that made him so desirable in his first season out of high school. Now, a year later, and with no one in front of him to snatch up game minutes, the sky is the limit. Coach Roy Williams should be expecting huge strides to be made from McAdoo as well as the other returners who will be seeing huge spikes in playing time: junior Reggie Bullock, sophomore PJ Hairston, junior Leslie McDonald (returning from injury) and senior Dexter Strickland (also returning from injury).
Who to Watch:
Even with those returning talents, the offense may still hinge on the production of one player: first year point guard Marcus Paige. Paige was rated as the very best point guard prospect in the nation coming out of high school. He is not, however, Kendall Marshall or Ty Lawson or Raymond Felton, not yet at least. Thus, the Tar Heels have something to prove, namely that a rookie is capable of running Roy Williams’ high velocity offense from day one. AP and USA Today voters aren’t saying it cannot be done. After all, Marshall himself was not supposed to be ready to run this offense the year before last, when Larry Drew was still on campus. So we are forced to believe experts and pundits around the country are not trying to imply Paige is inadequate, just that he might need some time acclimating himself to the rigors and pressures of big time college basketball. A lack of depth at the point for UNC makes this development all the more crucial.
Even with four players leaving for the NBA, Carolina brings back a talented quintet of veteran players capable shooting and scoring in bunches. Nevertheless, the ceiling of this team will be determined by Marcus Paige. The slight young man weighs no more than 160 pounds yet the weight of a school may rest on his shoulders. If he pans out to where people think he can be, a deep tournament run is inevitable. If he struggles to live up to such high PG expectations, perhaps those ACC third place predictions weren’t so crazy after all.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Marcus Paige, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Dexter Strickland, Senior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Leslie McDonald, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Reggie Bullock, Junior, Guard, 8.8 points per game
James Michael McAdoo, Sophomore, Forward, 6.1 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#4 James McAdoo
#27 Reggie Bullock
#50 Dexter Strickland
#86 P.J. Hairston
#102 Leslie McDonald
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#29 Marcus Paige
#39 Brice Johnson
#64 Joel James
#67 J.P. Tokoto