2011-2012 College Basketball Previews: #1- North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels Gambling Odds to Win NCAA Championship from Bookmaker: +370
North Carolina Tar Heels Gambling Odds to Win ACC Regular Season from 5Dimes: -175
The college hoops season is just about ready to get underway! I’ve been counting down my top five teams in the country leading up to the opening tip. It’s time for a look at my number one team: the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Last Year’s Results (29-8, Loss in Elite Eight)
The Tar Heels had a top ranked recruiting class come onto campus at the beginning of last season. Harrison Barnes was the nation’s top recruit. Barnes started the year a little slowly, but he came on in a big way over the last month of the season. Kendall Marshall’s amazing speed with the basketball really helped North Carolina push the tempo. The Tar Heels won 12 of their last 14 games last year. A hard fought loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight ended their season.
What’s the scariest part for North Carolina opponents? The Tar Heels return their entire starting five and nine of their top ten players from a year ago.
Roy Williams is a top notch recruiter, and he brought in some top talent again. James McAdoo was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 2009, and he will contribute to this team right away. McAdoo gives the Tar Heels another long and athletic big man. P.J. Hairston may be even more important to the team, because of his ability to stretch the defense. Hairston is a natural scorer who can shoot from anywhere on the floor. Stilman White gives the Tar Heels some much needed depth at the point guard position.
Every single person on this team can run the floor extremely well. You won’t find a center that runs the floor better than Tyler Zeller, and Henson is lightning quick for a power forward. In addition, this team has tons of shot blockers that will make it very difficult for opponents to get open looks around the basket. Athleticism is the name of the game for North Carolina, and that will cause a ton of matchup problems for the opposition.
North Carolina missed far too many free throws last year. Henson was the primary reason for this, but in general, the team just needs to shoot a higher percentage from the charity stripe. If they stay down around the 67% level, they are bound to lose some close games that they have no business losing.
North Carolina Tar Heels 2011-2012 Basketball Schedule
North Carolina has set up a difficult non-conference schedule, which should help them be ready for ACC play. The Tar Heels will take on Michigan State in the season opener. Keep a close eye on North Carolina’s back-to-back matchups with Wisconsin and Kentucky in late November and early December. You know there will be plenty on the line when North Carolina finishes the regular season with a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
North Carolina 2011-2012 Prediction: (#1 Seed in NCAA Tournament, Winner of National Championship)
The Tar Heels are the big favorite to win the NCAA Tournament this year, and for good reason. Even without the impressive newcomers this team would have been tough to beat, but McAdoo and Hairston should give this team a nice boost. Look for Harrison Barnes to have a massive breakout year. The Tar Heels will likely be the top overall seed in the tournament, and I think they’ll be cutting down the nets in early April.