<![CDATA[College Sports in North Carolina - UNC]]>Fri, 13 Nov 2015 22:25:02 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Can UNC Break Away From the Average?]]>Wed, 02 Sep 2015 00:14:04 GMThttp://www.nccollegesports.com/unc/can-unc-break-away-from-the-average                The North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off a disappointing season from a year ago.  UNC began the 2014-2015 season ranked as the 23rd overall team in the nation, and ended the season by barely squeaking into a bowl game, in which they lost handily to Rutgers by a score of 40-21.  Thus, the Tar Heels finished the season off with a record of 6-7, falling far below their expectations heading into the season.  Unfortunately for the Heels, this has been the pattern over the last few seasons.  Despite fairly high expectations headed into each season, UNC has struggled to break the ranks of mediocrity.  Outside of a strong 2012 season, they have consistently finished just above or just below .500.  The question for UNC going into the season is, can they break this streak and finally be a top contender for the ACC Coastal division?

                A program the caliber of UNC will always have high expectations, and even if it is not a top-25 ranking this season, many see the Larry Fedora’s team as a strong contender within the ACC.  And even though they have failed to reach their goals the past few years, this could be the year that the Tar Heels have their best opportunity at achieving a high-quality season. 

                In order for the Tar Heels to finally achieve their goals, they desperately need their defensive play to improve.  It is no secret that in 2014, UNC did not have a good defense at all.  UNC ranked 116th in the country in terms of points per game, 104th in defensive efficiency, and 122nd in 3rd down percentage rate.  It was truly a disappointing campaign for them, and it was a huge reason why UNC struggled to get anything going.  This year, however, they brought in Gene Chizik to turn things around on the defensive side of the field.  Chizik coached Auburn to a national title in 2010, and is one of the better defensive minds in college football.  For a team that struggled immensely last year on defense and lost three starters along with a handful of other important players, a new defensive system might be just what is required to do the trick.  With Chizik’s guidance, UNC should see some steady improvement from the beginning of the season, when they will be put to the test with a matchup against South Carolina to kick things off.  The Gamecock’s boasted one of last year’s best offenses, so it will definitely be interesting to see how things unfold for the new coach and scheme at Carolina. 

                Offensively, North Carolina should be strong this year.  With the exception of one game in 2014, UNC ‘s offense played remarkably well.  This offense, which averaged over 33 points per game a year ago, remains largely intact heading into this season.  UNC’s ground attack this year is led by TJ Logan, Elijah Hood, and multiple others who will all see plenty of touches in Fedora’s system.  A talented backfield should lead to a strong, up-tempo, high-scoring offense for another year.  Alongside the ground game is talented WR/return man Ryan Switzer, who had a bit of a down year in 2014, but excelled as a returner in 2013.  Switzer is a valuable weapon for UNC, and his presence on the field gives the Heels big play ability that can be extremely useful in such a fast-paced game.  Keeping in mind each weapon that UNC will have on the field, the time has come to evaluate the Tar Heels key to the season: QB Marquise Williams.  Williams is going into his senior year, and has shown the capability to be one of the better quarterbacks in the FBS over the last few years.  A large portion of UNC’s struggles to perform last year can be attributed to his injury-riddled season.  Williams has a very real chance at having the best season of his career, and if he can throw together an injury-free season in which he reaches his full potential, he can lead UNC to a season where it finally reaches expectations.

                This is a make or break season in Chapel Hill.  With its star player going into his final year with the program, North Carolina has the ability to finally assert itself as a formidable contender in the ACC Coastal.  UNC does not have a necessarily challenging schedule this year – helped by the fact that they play in the weaker half of the ACC (avoiding matchups with powerhouses Florida State and Clemson), and they should be able to take advantage of this.  Gene Chizik’s defensive prowess should enhance the one half of the field that must be improved, and a full season from Marquise Williams can in no way hurt Carolina’s chances.  While UNC will not contend for a National Championship, it is certainly feasible that this team can finally emerge from the mediocrity that has plagued them in recent years.  While, again, UNC could completely underperform and end with a .500 record again, there is a clear path for the Heels to improve upon recent years. 

Prediction time: North Carolina will finish the regular season with a strong record of 7-5, with the possibility of reaching 8-4 if they can pull off an upset over Georgia Tech, Miami, or even South Carolina.  Things look good for UNC going into the season, but it will be difficult for them to put a stop to the average years of the past.

<![CDATA[Can UNC Play with Enough Effort to Survive The ACC Gauntlet?]]>Sat, 03 Jan 2015 01:35:47 GMThttp://www.nccollegesports.com/unc/can-unc-play-with-enough-effort-to-survive-the-acc-gauntletNorth Carolina has already had plenty of ups and downs through only half of the 2014-2015 season. Looking purely at the numbers, they boast a 10-3 record, although some of those wins haven’t been as impressive as they would’ve hoped due to disappointing starts from UCLA, Florida, and Ohio State. Among the 3 losses one is to Kentucky, which is to be expected for possibly every team that faces the Wildcats this season. However, when looking at the other two losses we get a sense of what this season is going to be about for the Heels.

As they move into conference play, UNC will no doubt be a favorite to finish in the top 4, contending with other powerhouses Duke, Louisville, Virginia, and Notre Dame. The key that will unlock the door to a successful Tar Heels postseason is wrapped up in one word: effort. Examining the two losses this team has tells us all we need to know. In the first loss of the season to Butler, the Bulldogs won despite ugly shooting numbers and lack of fluid play offensively. UNC was the more talented team, the better coached team, and the more athletic team. What they were not was the hungrier team. Butler destroyed the Heels on the glass and player more physically in all phases of the game. On December 3rd against Iowa, a similar story unfolded. Despite holding the Hawkeyes to 32% shooting, only 2 points higher than the Bulldogs shot, UNC couldn’t manage a win against a team is should beat 9 out of 10 times. In the words of Roy Williams- “They wanted it more than we did.”

Another concern for the Tar Heels is the strain being put on leader Marcus Paige. While Paige is averaging 13.6 PPG, he is shooting a putrid 36% from the field, largely due to the lack of complimentary scorers for the Heels. Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks are the only two other double digit scorers on the team, but neither has any perimeter game offensively. This leaves Paige as the sole threat from the outside. While a few other Tar Heels have chipped in from the backcourt offensively, only J.P. Tokoto and Nate Britt join Paige in shooting more than 30% from beyond the arc. Tokoto has only attempted 17 treys all year and Britt only logs 15 minutes per game. All these numbers summed up come to one concern: When elite ACC defenses do everything possible to take away Paige, who is going to step up and find ways to put the ball in the basket? We don’t know yet.

Let’s look at some positives. Kennedy Meeks has taken huge strides this season to average 13 and 9, while controlling the paint with 1.6 blocks per game. His partner in crime Brice Johnson is putting up 11.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG while also adding around 1 block of his own every night. It is clear the the Heels can dominate opponents on the inside, as they currently rank 2nd in the nation in rebounding. They also move the ball well, ranking top 5 in assists. The do need to tighten up the defense that gives up 65 PPG, about middle of the road in division 1, but that should get better as the season progresses.

As UNC gets ready to take on Clemson on Saturday night, they have a lot of questions to answer. This team, at its best, has the potential to make a deep run in the tournament. At its worst, it could fall victim to a first weekend exit. Everything depends on which Tar Heels team shows up, and with back to back games coming up against Louisville and Notre Dame next week, we’re going to see real quick how this team does when the ACC gauntlet begins. 

<![CDATA[Butler Out-Works UNC, Beat Tar Heels 74-66]]>Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:20:02 GMThttp://www.nccollegesports.com/unc/butler-out-works-unc-beat-tar-heels-74-66UNC suffered a disappointing loss to the Butler Bulldogs on Wednesday in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Obviously not a ton of conclusions can be drawn from a tournament loss in late November against a solid team, however there were some concerning signs for the Tar Heels.

The biggest issue with Heels on Wednesday was effort. Neither team played particularly well; Kellen Dunham, leading scorer for the Bulldogs, shot 3-17 from the field and 1-10 from 3. Marcus Paige had 18 points but took 17 shots to get there. Both squads had 24 fouls and 19 turnovers a piece. It was ugly. But in the end, Butler just played harder. The Bulldogs had twice as many offensive rebounds as UNC and converted 72% of their free throws compared to the Heels’ 56%.

Carolina looked like a top 5 team that expected to win for all the wrong reasons. They looked like a team that thought they would win because they were more talented. They looked like a team that thought they would win because they were ranked higher. Most of all, they looked like a team that thought they would win because they were supposed to. By the time they realized that things weren’t going to just work themselves out, Butler had already taken the game by the horns, and it was too late.

In the end, this isn’t a huge deal for Roy Williams’ team. They’re still going to compete for the ACC championship. They’re still going to make the tournament. They still have a great shot of competing for a national title. However, they’re going to have to play like a team that wants to go earn victories instead of just assuming the wins will come, and it needs to start today against #22 UCLA.

-Dylan Housman]]>
<![CDATA[UNC vs. Virginia Preview]]>Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:41:16 GMThttp://www.nccollegesports.com/unc/unc-vs-virginia-preview
After possibly the most difficult week in the history of the University of North Carolina, fans and players of UNC football will be happy to get back to watching football…not press conferences. The fallout from this week’s release of the Wainstein report will hang over both the University and its athletic program for some time to come, but the Tar Heels and their head coach Larry Fedora still have a crucial ACC Coastal Division matchup coming up this Saturday in Charlottesville against UVA. The “Oldest Rivalry in the South” will renew for the 119th time at 12:30PM this Saturday on the ACC Network.

After a season saving win against Georgia Tech last week, the Tar Heels will head to Charlottesville holding their own destiny in their hands in the coastal division.  UVA is a seven-point favorite due for the most part to a stout run defense that ranks ninth nationally, holding opponents to an average of 100.6 ypg. On the offense side of the ball for UVA senior running back Kevin Parks from Charlotte, NC leads the attack. Parks has 502 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season.

Since Larry Fedora has abandoned the much maligned two quarterback system after the loss to Virginia Tech, junior (RS) quarterback Marquise Williams has put up video game like numbers against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Williams is not only the leading passer for the Heels, he is also the leading rusher and even caught a touchdown pass two weeks ago against Notre Dame.

The question for the Heels is not the offensive output, it is whether or not the defense will be able to hold UVA to a reasonable amount of points. UNC’s defense has given up 45 or more points in five out of its seven games this season, which is simply unacceptable. With the hurry up offense that Fedora uses, it is reasonable to give the defense some leeway. However, the offense cannot be expected to put up 50 points every game just to give itself a chance at winning the game.

Prediction : UVA 42, UNC 36 

Game Info- 

TV- ACC Network
Radio- Tar Heel Sports Network
Start Time- 12:30
Date- October 25th
Location- Charlottesville, VA