UNC Basketball: 3 Reasons the '14-15 Tar Heels Are Primed for a Championship Run

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UNC Basketball: 3 Reasons the '14-15 Tar Heels Are Primed for a Championship Run
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

North Carolina is one of a few college basketball programs that we expect to make a serious championship run every few years.

No one is shocked when Tar Heel teams make a trip to the Final Four. After all, UNC has made it at least to the national semifinals nine times since 1991 and 18 times in school history.

Carolina, however, is currently in a title-dash drought, not making it to a Final Four since it cut down the nets in 2009.

However, Roy Williams' 2014-15 squad is ready to compete for the school's sixth national title.

Here are three factors that will help the Heels' chances of getting to Indianapolis next April. 

 

Balanced Scoring

Top teams rarely rely on just one or two big-time scorers. Having multiple offensive weapons makes it difficult for opponents to shut down your scoring potential.

If Marcus Paige is the Heels' leading scorer, who will be No. 2?

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North Carolina will be loaded with at least two-deep talent at every position. Each of Williams' starters are likely to average double-figure points per game.

As Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks take on featured roles this season in the Tar Heels' frontcourt, they are both ready to ring up tons of points.

Rising junior J.P. Tokoto is a skywalking slasher who gets to the rim with ease. Incoming freshman Justin Jackson is a natural shotmaker.

But, national player of the year candidate Marcus Paige will once again lead the way.

ESPN's C.L. Brown identifies Paige as "one of the nation’s best point guards when it comes to taking over a game scoring. He also might be the nation’s most reluctant leading scorer. Because of P.J. Hairston losing his eligibility, Paige had to be more of a scoring point guard than he was accustomed to being."

The Marion, Iowa, native averaged 17.5 points per game last year, coming on strong at the end of his sophomore season to average 22.3 PPG over UNC's last four games.

The Heels will have plenty of poised producers coming off the bench also, including first-year phenoms Theo Pinson and Joel Berry.

With all of this firepower and more, opponents should think twice about getting into a shootout with Carolina this season.

 

Robust Rebounding

Lots of good happens when UNC crashes the boards well.

The Heels made it to the 2008 Final Four while being the No. 1 rebounding team in the country. They won it all the next year (2009) by being the No. 2 rebounding team nationally.

John Amis/Associated Press

And Carolina was 32-6 in 2012 when it was the No. 1 team on the boards.

Last year's team averaged 39.8 rebounds per game (No. 8 in the nation) and should be even better this coming season.

With another year of development under their belts, Johnson and Meeks should be a dynamic, double-double duo.

Tokoto's, Jackson's and Pinson's length will cause serious trouble for opponents' perimeter rebounders.

Even when Williams goes to the bench, he has more size (Joel James: 6'10" 280 lbs) and more athleticism (Isaiah Hicks) to crash and bang.

Very few teams will be able to handle Carolina on the glass at either end of the court.

 

Shutting Down the Arc

Good defense is always an important feature of championship teams. Getting out and stopping shooters is a must.

North Carolina held its opponents last season to a stingy 31.7 percent from beyond the arc. That is good, but the Tar Heels will be even more daunting at defending from downtown this year.

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

UNC's wings will make it nearly impossible for just about anyone to get good looks from distance. Tokoto, a 2014 All-ACC defender, will be even more of a freak as a junior.

Paige and Nate Britt are menaces on the ball. Berry is a nasty defender who will help the Heels with his intensity and toughness.

Do not be surprised if Carolina is the No. 1 team in the nation in three-point defense.

 

Looking Ahead

Could this be the year that Williams moves past legendary coach Dean Smith by winning his third NCAA championship? 

Williams has done an excellent job of restocking his roster. His squad will match up well with any team on its schedule.

It is going to be a special year in Chapel Hill with a season that should last until the first week in April.  

 

 All team and individual stats from Teamrankings.com

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