North Carolina Basketball: These Tar Heels Won't Make March Madness

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2013

North Carolina Basketball: These Tar Heels Won't Make March Madness

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    Selection Sunday may be a sad day in Chapel Hill.

    When the brackets are announced, North Carolina (10-5) is usually finding out whether they will be a No. 1 seed or No. 2 seed.

    UNC, after losing Thursday night at home to Miami (68-59), has now opened their ACC slate 0-2.

    They are playing spiritless basketball that is leading to poor performance and puzzling losses.

    Could we be witnessing the beginnings of a duplication of the disaster that was the 2009-10 season?

    For those of you who are keeping track at home, Roy's Boys went 5-11 in Atlantic Coast Conference play that year.

    They finished the season 16-15, but shook themselves enough to make it to the NIT finals, only to lose to Dayton in the championship game.

    The way that they are playing right now, these Tar Heels will not make the 2013 NCAA tournament.

    Here are the five biggest reasons why.

5. Indifferent Defense

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    This Tar Heel team has very little intensity on the defensive end of the court.

    Against Miami, Carolina allowed lots of open looks on the perimeter and gave up several second-chance buckets.

    Not that fouling is a good thing, but the fact that UNC only committed 11 total fouls (and four were on point guard Marcus Paige) is another symptom of their listless play.

    Tough defense turns into occasional fouls.

    Most coaches have no problem with players working hard to shut the other team down.

    This picture of Dexter Strickland was not taken this year. I haven't seen this level of fire in a long time.

4. Settling for Jump Shots

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    Even though North Carolina has some good shooters, they settle way too much for jump shots.

    The two Tar Heel leaders, Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo, lead the way in loving mid-to-long range jumpers.

    Bullock shot 4-of-16 from the floor against Miami. Almost all of his shots were from at least 15 feet.

    McAdoo rarely works the block. He went 5-of-14 from the floor, and most of those were mid-range field goals.

    P.J. Hairston went 2-of-7 and was basically invisible.

    The rest of the ACC will be glad if Carolina keeps launching shots rather than getting in the lane and taking it to the glass.

3. Playing at the Pace of Their Opponents

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    In both of Carolina's ACC losses, the Tar Heels were at the mercy of Virginia and Miami's style of play and pace. 

    Because UNC does not take control of the game early, they are subject to what their opponents want.

    This team likes to get up and down the court. Going into their game against the Hurricanes, the Heels were averaging 81.4 points per game  (No. 7 in the nation).

    However, in their five losses, North Carolina is only scoring 61.6 PPG. 

2. Playing Not to Lose

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    There's a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose.

    The Tar Heels are trying to avoid losses rather than taking control of games.

    That approach to basketball, at any level, is a recipe for defeat.

    They look miserable. They're playing spiritless. And it's hard to get out of that mindset. 

1. Lacking Leadership

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    Nobody seems to want to take charge on the court.

    No one looks like they want to be the one who pulls everyone together.

    There is no Kendall Marshall out there.

    Tyler Hansbrough is no where to be found.

    Raymond Felton? Anyone?

    It's not enough for Roy to rage on the sidelines.

    The Tar Heels' talent is neutralized awfully fast if there isn't a player on the court who is fiery enough to get excited when good things are happening and get onto people when things are heading south.