NCAA Tournament: Can Roy Williams Guide North Carolina to Another Title?
Ever since he was at Kansas, I've learned never to underestimate Roy Williams.
The man is a legendary coach, and while North Carolina (26-7) may be a No. 2 seed in the East region, I'm not so sure they've got the goods to win it all this year. This team has just two players with tournament experience, and it remains to be seen whether this team is mentally tough enough to make a run like this.
"By now we know what we need to do," freshman Harrison Barnes told Aaron Beard of the Associated Press. "It’s just a matter of, mentally, going out and doing it."
That's fine and all, but the Tar Heels are going to have to figure this out in arguably the toughest region in the NCAA tournament. Get through the first round and there's a potential matchup awaiting with Washington. After that is a possible game with Syracuse in Newark, New Jersey.
Questions may abound about how truly dangerous North Carolina will be after Sunday's loss to Duke, but I agree with Adam Lucas of Tar Heel Monthly, who points out that when two teams are so familiar with each other, there's practically nothing either team doesn't already know about each other.
"After we were selected, I looked around and realized that there were only two players in the room that had ever played in an NCAA tournament game (juniors Tyler Zeller and Justin Watts in 2009)," Williams said in a prepared statement. "It shows how the culture of college basketball has changed. Two years ago we were the national champions and now after missing just one season we will go into the tournament with such a young and inexperienced team."
Contributor John Felton was on the money, I think, when he pointed out that pressure could be a problem for North Carolina's guards. Pressure them, he writes, and they panic and turn the ball over. The key, he continues, is Kendall Marshall.
If he can't find his rhythm, then the offense becomes stagnant, Felton adds.
"I am extremely proud of my team and I congratulate them on the great run they've had since mid-January," Williams said. "Not many people would have thought that when we left Atlanta after the loss to Georgia Tech that we would have won the ACC regular-season championship, played in the ACC tournament final and earned a number two seed in the NCAA tournament. Now we have to get back to work and play better than we did this weekend in Greensboro."
They certainly can improve, but are they good enough to cut down the nets? I have my doubts.
Then again, Roy's proved me wrong before.
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