UNC Basketball

UNC Basketball: Players Vital to a Deep NCAA Run

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 13:  Reggie Bullock #35 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after a play during their game against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 13, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 16, 2013

The conference tournaments are well underway. And even though an ACC title would be nice—and helpful in seeding—North Carolina has all but locked up its NCAA bid.

But the 2012-13 season has been a bit different. The Tar Heels haven't been nearly as dominant as years' past. UNC finished the regular season third in the ACC, 12-6 in the conference and 22-9 overall.

Instead of its usual top seeding, UNC could be looking at a No. 7 or 8 seed.

If they want to make a deep run, the Tar Hells will have to lean on their young roster to shine through and play some great basketball.

 

James Michael McAdoo, F, Sophomore

The Tar Heels have one of the best offenses in college basketball. Their 77.0 points per game is the 13th best mark in the NCAA and third highest in the ACC.

Leading the scoring front is sophomore McAdoo, who averaged 14.6 points per game while shooting 44.8 percent in the regular season.

Despite his scoring prowess, McAdoo has been inconsistent at times.

In major losses to Duke (twice), Miami (twice) and Indiana the young forward was a non factor. He shot just 33 percent in those losses while averaging 10.8 points per contest—not what you want from your best scorer.

Not to mention, he shot an abysmal 57.4 percent on free throws this season. That becomes increasingly important in the tournament where tight games are prevalent.

McAdoo can be a force at times, but he has to find a way to play consistently. If UNC is to make a deep run, it needs its leading scorer to be a factor in every game, not just the easy ones.

 

Reggie Bullock, G, Junior

On a team as young as UNC, there's still some experience to be found. One such veteran is guard Reggie Bullock.

In each season with the Tar Heels Bullock has found a way to improve, and he took huge leaps forward this year.

Bullock was UNC's sharp shooter this season, averaging 14.2 points per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and a team-leading 44.2 percent from beyond the arc.

When McAddo has struggled, it's usually been Bullock who steps in and takes the reigns. He's a great contributor on offense and an able leader when needed.

If the Tar Heels' offense starts to slip in the tourney, it will be the veteran leadership and experience of Bullock that gets the team back on track.

 

Desmond Hubert, F, Sophomore

UNC doesn't play particularly great defense, something that could hurt them in the upcoming March tourney. Opponents average 68.6 points a game against the Tar Heels, good for 102nd in the NCAA.

Those problems were amplified in the five combined losses to Duke, Miami and Indiana where the Tar Heels were blown out by an average margin of 16 points.

At 6'9", 220 pounds, Desmond Hubert is one of the biggest players on the team. As such, his role is a defensive enforcer.

Hubert doesn't get a lot of playing time (10 minutes per game), but he makes the best of it. In the minutes he gets he's accumulated 56 rebounds, eight steals and a team-leading 27 blocks.

With defense becoming all the more important in March, it will be up to Hubert to continue to make the most of his minutes and be a big factor on defense.

 

Marcus Paige, G, Freshman

While experience is an important factor to any deep March run, you can't overlook the importance of youthful energy.

The freshman Paige brings plenty of that to the table.

Paige is a do-everything kind of player for UNC. He scores, plays defense and is one of the team's best distributors.

In his 28.7 minutes per game, Paige has accumulated a team-leading 137 assists. He's also averaged 2.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 7.6 points a game.

Paige isn't the Tar Heels' most important player, but he provides some much needed energy on the court. Combined with his overall contribution, the young guard will be a huge player this March.

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