John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor
North Carolina has struggled with shot selection all season long, and the four-guard lineup has only made it easier to fall under the spell of the three ball.
It shot 29 threes in the ACC title game.
That's all fine and dandy when those shots are falling. But when they aren't, Carolina's opponents have been able to make the game closer than it should have been. Or pull away, as Duke did in the final regular season game.
Yes, there is no Tyler Zeller or John Henson to feed the ball to inside. James Michael McAdoo prefers working in space and beating his defender off the dribble. But the guards have all shown they are perfectly capable of taking it to the rack.
Dexter Strickland is the best of the group at this, and has made driving his primary means of scoring since the lineup change. Though, he got away from that against Maryland, when he was burying every jump shot he took in the first half.
That's fine when you're strokin' it.
But Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston are the most likely players to jack up unnecessary threes. And I only focus on threes because it is rare either one shoots a mid-range jumper.
It's as if they feel just one more three will put the other team away. But what puts teams away is offensive efficiency in the half court. And it's tough to be efficient when the players rely on a shot that only goes in 38.9 percent of the time.
That's a great team percentage for threes, but the twos are going down 47 percent of the time.
Get the ball inside to McAdoo and be ready to crash the boards. Or the guards can simply take it to the hole themselves, which provides higher-percentage shots and possibly some trips to the foul line.
The Tar Heels have done a much better job at the line, now that the guards have the spacing to drive. The team isn't getting to the foul line more, but it is shooting a much better percentage without McAdoo taking the bulk of the free throws.
The Tar Heels are up to 72.1 percent now. They only missed one free throw in the championship, but they only had 11 attempts.
When 29 of a team's 61 shots are threes, that's going to happen.
It can't happen in the Big Dance, though.
Imagine the points they could put up if they made driving the first option.