UNC Tar Heels Basketball: 4 Bold Predictions for 2012 NCAA Tournament
As you would expect from a No. 1 seed, North Carolina is going to receive plenty of attention before and during the tournament. So, it's good to know exactly what you can expect from that attention.
With UNC's tournament beginning this Friday, let's take a look at just what will happen to with the Tar Heels as they go for their third title in eight years.
Harrison Barnes will dominate
Barnes has been a little inconsistent, particularly in the early part of the season. That isn't going to happen in the tournament.
Barnes is a matchup nightmare—an all-around great athlete with size that very few teams can put a package together to contain.
Look for something in the 20-points-per-game range. Even up to 25 wouldn't surprise me, especially in the early going.
Will North Carolina be scared in the first three rounds?
They won't be tested early
Normally, top teams encounter one or two games that are a little tougher than the seeds would suggest that they should be. That isn't going to happen to UNC, which will cruise through the first three rounds.
The winner of tonight's game between Lamar and Vermont is going to be fed to the wolves by way of a 30-point blowout. Looking at the potential opponents for the next two games, there's just nobody there that will hang with them for 40 minutes—or come anywhere close.
Don't watch the early games looking for an upset or even a test. North Carolina won't have any problem in those rounds.
Tough Regional Final
One team that I have overstaying their welcome (based on seeding) is Saint Mary's, which is a No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region. The Gaels do everything well and that is going to get them further than a seventh seed should go.
They will not get past an Elite Eight matchup with the Tar Heels, but UNC will be tested and tested greatly in the regional final. Again, prior to that, North Carolina will roll. Nobody on the Tar Heels' half of the bracket has the firepower to stay within 10 points of them.
How far will UNC go in the tournament?
They are a better team than the Gaels—but not enough for a blowout. Still, for most of the 40-minute game, UNC's status in the Final Four will be very much in doubt.
They'll fall just short
The Tar Heels have the size to match anyone in the country, but their guard play will not get it done when we're talking about winning a national championship.
The problem is that in the final, they will face Missouri, which has phenomenal guard play and depth. Five Tigers average 10 or more points a game, with four of them are at 13 or more.
Ultimately, that will be a little too much firepower for UNC. The final will be a close one, but a few turnovers will make the difference.
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