UNC Basketball: What Experts Say About Tar Heels' NCAA Tournament 2012 Chances

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 13, 2012

With the NCAA tournament kicking off, the experts have weighed in on the chances of all the top teams. That would obviously include the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

UNC has as much talent and balance as any team in the country. They have had a few missteps during the season—losing twice to Florida State sticks out in the minds of their critics.

With an injury to John Henson, the critics' voices are getting louder. Can the Tar Heels put it all together, now that everything is on the line?

Let's see what the experts think:



Jay Bilas—ESPN


How could we discuss any ACC team, especially UNC, without starting with the man, Jay Bilas. He has a realistic and unbiased opinion about the 2012 Tar Heels' chances to reach North Carolina.

After he has the Tar Heels dispatching Lamar, Creighton, Michigan and Kansas to reach the Final Four, he says this of their semifinals matchup with the Syracuse Orange:

"Carolina does not shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter, and the Syracuse zone does a really good job making adjustments to shade to shooters, trap in certain spots, and to guard or not guard certain players.

The key is whether UNC can beat the zone down the floor and score ahead of the Syracuse defense, before it gets set. This is a battle of the two best transition teams in the country."

I couldn't disagree more with this outcome. I agree that the Tar Heels don't shoot it well from distance, and traditionally that is the popular way to attack the zone. But that said, the Orange have been struggling as of late to play as fundamentally sound within their zone.

Also, Kendall Marshall may not have the prettiest jump shot or percentage (.342), but he makes big shots. You compound that with the fact that UNC is the nation's best rebounding team, and they would defeat Syracuse.

The Orange struggle mightily from the free throw line. They are only 69 percent from the stripe as a team, and the Tar Heels' rebounding will control tempo and make up for less-than-sizzling shooting.



John Feinstein—Washington Post


Like Bilas, Feinstein sees the Heels blowing through their early opponents. He says the Heels could have issues with the sharp-shooting Wolverines, but thinks the rebounding edge will push them through.

He also sees a UNC vs. Kansas regional final, but fell short of making a prediction. He says:

"Carolina-Kansas? The only thing that is pretty much guaranteed is that Ol’ Roy sheds a tear regardless of who advances to New Orleans. No doubt he still has his Jayhawk sticker handy if he needs it."

I can't see a way that Kansas can win this game if the Heels' bigs are healthy. With Zeller and Henson able to converge on the nation's best player Thomas Robinson, the Heels should win.

They would put tons of pressure on the Jayhawks' perimeter players, and I don't see them stepping up. 

Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson lose the battle on the perimeter. Neither player is above 35 percent from deep, and they don't have a true floor general.


Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb—ESPN


These two analyzed the region and ultimately agreed that North Carolina beats Kansas to reach the Final Four. 

It kind of sounds like a default pick, as neither analyst is enthused over either team.

Gottlieb laments the Tar Heels' lack of execution and Katz hones in on the their less-than-stellar three-point shooting. 

In the end, both agree the length on the inside will win out. Watch their breakdown:

I must agree, the combination of solid point guard play from Marshall, who is averaging 9.7 assists per game, the big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson, and the superstar on the wing in Harrison Barnes, and the Tar Heels will reach the Final Four.


Dick Vitale


Mr. Awesome Baby also has the Tar Heels advancing to the Final Four, but he doesn't stop there. On Dickie V's bracket, he has the Heels going to the national championship game, only to lose to the Kentucky Wildcats.

I agree with Vitale all the way up to the final pick. I believe the Heels will exact revenge against Kentucky from their nail-biting loss on December 3.

The Heels are nearly as talented, bigger, and most importantly, they are better coached.



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