North Carolina 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview
North Carolina Tar Heels (28-4, 13-3) - Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Seed: #1 - South Region
Big Wins: 12/3 vs Michigan State (98-63), 1/28 at Florida State (80-77), 2/11 at Duke (101-87)
Bad Losses: 1/4 Boston College (78-85), 2/21 at Maryland (85-88), 3/14 vs Florida State (70-73)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Final Four loss to Kansas
Coach: Roy Williams (49-18 in 19 NCAA appearances)
North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA Tournament history
Probable North Carolina Starters:
Ty Lawson, Junior, Guard, 15.9 ppg, 6.5 apg, 2.0 spg
Wayne Ellington, Junior, Guard, 15.2 ppg, 2.7 apg, 4.8 rpg
Danny Green, Senior, Forward, 13.3 ppg, 2.8 apg, 4.7 rpg
Deon Thompson, Junior, Forward, 11.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Tyler Hansbrough, Senior, Forward, 21.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg
Key North Carolina Roleplayers:
Ed Davis, Freshman, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Bobby Frasor, Senior, Guard, 2.7 ppg, 1.5 apg
Larry Drew II, Freshman, Guard, 1.4 ppg, 2.1 apg
Why The Tar Heels Can Surprise:
North Carolina averages over 91 points per game, which is second in the nation. Coach Roy Williams will push the ball at every opportunity and he has the depth to do it. The team is very experienced led by the backcourt trio of Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson. All three of those players are superb outside shooters and consistency in that area was an issue last season. That is not the case anymore. Lawson sat out the ACC Tournament with a toe injury, but UNC was playing it pretty safe and he should be good to go for NCAA Tournament.
This is not a team that is simply running and gunning and taking bad shots. They are getting to the basket and feeding the big men, most notably Tyler Hansbrough who is good for at least 20 points and ten rebounds a game. UNC has five players who averaged double-digit scoring on the year and the emergence of players like Ed Davis and Larry Drew II give the Tar Heels a whole boatload of scoring threats.
Why The Tar Heels Can Disappoint:
Turnovers can be a problem, but considering UNC will always push the tempo it is understandable. Now that Lawson and Ellington are upperclassmen, it was expected that the turnover numbers would go down a bit. And they have. Committing 13.1 turnovers a game is not bad for a team that dishes out 18.7 assists and scores so many points.The lone concern is the three-point shooting defense. North Carolina allows their opposition to shoot 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. That is not a great percentage by any means, but the Tar Heels could be better. If a team starts getting hot from beyond the arc, the Tar Heels can lose.
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Who To Watch:
This team works around Hansbrough and the fact that the guards have not forgotten such things is a big bonus. In many cases, especially with an up-tempo style of play, the big man will get left out of the picture while the guards run around all day. UNC and Coach Williams will not allow that to happen and Hansbrough will get plenty of touches under the basket. His frontcourt counterpart, Deon Thompson, has done a great job at the power forward position. While he can score and is the second best rebounder on the team, Thompson’s best asset is adding a shot blocking presence on the defensive end.
North Carolina By the Numbers:
- Scoring Offense: 91.2 (2nd in nation, 1st in conference)
- Scoring Defense: 72.7 (287, 12)
- Field-Goal Percentage: 48.5 (11, 2)
- Field-Goal Defense: 41.2 (67, 5)
- Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (91, 3)
- Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (34, 1)
- Free-Throw Percentage: 76.3 (10, 2)
- Rebound Margin: 7.6 (9, 1)
- Assists Per Game: 18.7 (2, 1)
- Turnovers Per Game: 13.1 (112, 3)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Elite Eight loss to Oklahoma
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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