The UNC Tar Heels
The UNC Tar Heels are our #1 team in North Carolina, and rightfully so. The Heels had an up and down campaign last year, ending up with 24 wins and a second round NCAA tournament loss to Iowa State. The Tar Heels have a lot of depth and talent coming in this year, including Preseason ACC player of the year Marcus Paige. They get back all-ACC defensive player J.P. Tokoto and bring in highly touted recruit Justin Jackson. This team might give Roy Williams a legitimate chance to get back to his first Final Four since 2009.
UNC opens the season with an in state matchup against NC Central, and also takes on Davidson, ECU, and UNC-Greensboro out of conference. The two biggest tests before league play will be a road matchup with Kentucky and a home game against Ohio State. That UK game on December 13th will undoubtedly be one of the biggest games of the college basketball season and will give a good idea of how good the Heels could be. They also get both Louisville and of course rival Duke twice in conference play.
Marcus Paige (Jr.) G- Paige was the best player for the Heels last season and figures to play the same role this season. He is a legit contender for ACC Player of the year after being chosen as a preseason All-American. He put up 17 PPG and shot nearly 40% from 3 last season, however this year he’ll have more help on the perimeter and shouldn’t be asked to do as much.
Justin Jackson (Sr.) F- Jackson was a McDonald’s All America game MVP and has been ranked as one of the most impactful incoming freshman in the country. He has the potential to lead the Tar Heels in scoring and is a legit threat to Jahlil Okafor for ACC Freshman of the year.
UNC is poised to have a great season, but a lot of their success will depend on young players. I expect this team to start out slow and gain steam as the season goes on, and John Calipari’s Kentucky teams in recent years have shown that you don’t need experience to win a championship. I think UNC makes a final four this season but comes up just short of winning it all.