North Carolina Basketball: 5 Reasons To Worry After UNC's Matchup With Duke
The Tar Heels suffered a disappointing defeat in the ACC Championship on Sunday to archrival Duke Blue Devils.
The conference tournament, especially the championship game, exposed some flaws in UNC's game that could potentially lead to their downfall in the big dance.
Here are five things fans should be concerned about and Roy Williams must correct during March Madness to keep the 'Heels Final Four hopes alive.
Dexter Strickland threw down a Jordan-like jam to energize the crowd in the first half, but the excitement drained away as he was called for one of his multiple offensive fouls.
The Tar Heels were called for at least five deflating offensive fouls, a majority of which would have given them momentum-building buckets.
They Can Be Pressured
Duke's defense was all over Carolina from the tip, just like Clemson the day before. If the Tar Heels were going to score they had to earn it.
Their first basket didn't drop through the rim until nearly four minutes had gone by in the first half, and it was a highly contested three from Leslie McDonald at that.
When Carolina's guards are pressured, they panic and turn the ball over. Kendall Marshall has to attack the basket with confidence if he's covered tightly and find a way to finish.
If Marshall can't get it going, the offense is stagnant. Defensive pressure killed the Heels in the opening minutes of the game.
Offense Struggles When Harrison Barnes Can't Score
Kyle Singler's early defense shut down the Heels' super-freshman Barnes, who was fresh off a 40-point performance against Clemson.
Barnes had very few good looks at the rim Sunday afternoon and was forced into tough shots. He still managed to lead the team with 16 points, most of which came in the second half.
UNC's offense needs higher production from Barnes if it's going to continue to rely on Harrison's hot hand in the real tournament.
Streaky Defense and Rebounding
The Heels have no problem getting their hands on the ball, but they have difficulty securing the rock.
Too many times they simply just can't grab it, and instead of reeling in the rebounds they bounce off their hands or legs out of bounds.
John Henson is one of the best shot blockers in college basketball with his height and long arms, but too often the Tar Heels allow easy penetration into the paint and leave snipers wide open behind the arc.
However, I'll give Tyler Zeller some props for pinning a Singler layup against the backboard for an impressive stuff.
The Tar Heels usually wait until they're down to start playing with some intensity on the defensive end. If they want to win in the big dance, they're going to have to find a way to muster some tenacity on defense from the get-go.
They Go Down Big Early
In the Tar Heels' three games in the ACC Tournament, they've been in a double-digit hole at some point along the way.
They were able to dig themselves out against weaker teams like Miami and Clemson, but couldn't against a great team like Duke.
Carolina can't play catch-up in the NCAA Tournament if they hope to make it further than the opening rounds.