North Carolina Basketball: 7 Reasons the Tar Heels Are the Early Favorite to Win

Andrew DanielContributor IIISeptember 22, 2011

North Carolina Basketball: 7 Reasons the Tar Heels Are the Early Favorite to Win

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    Tar Heel Nation is itching for College Football to be over and for the real fun to begin.

    This year, the Tar Heels will start out as the preseason No. 1 and the favorite to run the tables and hold up the Championship trophy at the end of the year. This team has it all, featuring great players, leadership and a smart coach.

    It is going to be fun watching the Tar Heels this year as we see if they can do what most fans and experts have predicted them to do, go all the way. In this article, I am going to give you seven reasons why whoever picked the Tar Heels to win it all should feel confident about their pick. 

Front Court

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    The Tar Heels will have an incredible front court with Tyler Zeller and John Henson deciding to return to Chapel Hill.

    Tyler Zeller is one of the best centers coming into the 2011-2012 season. Zeller averaged 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds last year for the Tar Heels, and is the leader of this team. He was the key player in the middle for the Tar Heels last season and will continue to be one of the focal points for the Tar Heels' offense. Zeller gets out and runs the floor with the best of them, giving point guard Kendall Marshall a tall target to throw the ball down the court to on a fast break. 

    John Henson is a tall and length player in the middle that is a double-double machine and is, perhaps, the best shot-blocker in the country. With Henson in the middle, not many easy baskets will be made up close against UNC and teams will have to find other ways to beat the Tar Heels. Henson averaged 11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and a very impressive 3.2 blocks last season. John Henson will be a key player for the Heels, not only on the fast break, but also defending the basket. 

    This is the best front court in the country. When teams play this front court they not only have to worry about their ability to block shots and defend the basket, but also their tendency to put up points in bunches.

Back Court

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    Additionally, the Tar Heels have one of the best back courts in the nation with Kendall Marshall as the starting point guard and Dexter Strickland as their starting shooting guard. 

    Kendall Marshall is the best passing point guard in the country and sees the floor with great vision. Marshall runs the fast break with his head up, always looking to get his teammates the ball in the best position to score. Marshall averaged 6.2 points and 8.2 assists last season, but most impressive was his assist to turnover ratio, which was 4:1. Marshall is the commander for this team and will help lead them to multiple victories. 

    Dexter Strickland isn't the best shooter on the floor, but what he is the best at is using his speed to get to the basket. He is a guard that likes to use a fake to the right or left and then drive to the basket. When Strickland is at the basket he is very good at drawing contact and finishing the play. Strickland averaged 7.5 points and shot 48 percent from the field last year. Strickland will need to work on his 3-point shot during the off-season to add another dimension to this already very dimensional team.  

    The Tar Heels have one of the most dangerous and explosive back courts in the country. All opponents beware, this team can not only get out and run the fast break but are deadly shooters.

Harrison Barnes: Greatest Player in the Country

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    Harrison Barnes is without a doubt the best player in the country and is in the top running for the Player of the Year award. Many people thought he was a little overrated coming out of high school, becoming the first freshman to earn a spot as a preseason All-American.

    Barnes started out slow but proved his doubters wrong towards the end of the season, when he lit up Clemson for 40 points in the ACC tournament. Barnes averaged 16.7 points and hauled in 5.8 rebounds per game as the Tar Heels go-to-guy last season. Barnes is going to be a very important part of this team, as they will look for him more often then not in this offense, especially at the end of games. 

Recruiting Class

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    The Tar Heels are bringing in a very deep recruiting class for the 2011-2012 season. The Heels bring in a top-five recruiting class to go along with an already stacked and talented team. They bring in James McAdoo, P.J. Hairston, Jack Simmons, Desmond Hubert and Stillman White. This class is jam packed with talent and should put the Tar Heels over the top this year. 

    James McAdoo is the top power forward coming out of this class. He is nephew of former Tar Heel Bob McAdoo. James has great hands, can score up to 15 feet, is a solid rebounder and will erase a lot of defensive errors with his amazing shot blocking ability. McAdoo is also a great dribble-driver for his size and should add a nice piece to the Tar Heel front court.  

    P.J Hairston is a true shooting guard with the size and strength for the position. Hairston 6'5", can shoot over much shorter defenders and is great at shooting off the dribble. Hairston is a three ball expert, a streaky shooter who can get on a role by hitting a few threes in a row. Not only is he good at shooting the ball, but he can get to the rim and us his size at the basket. 

    Jack Simmons is an undersized power forward, but is not afraid to bang down low with the big boys. He is a very underrated rebounder. Simmons is a great scorer off the pick and pop and has great touch on his shot. Simmons will bring great energy to this team, as he goes hard on ever play. 

    Desmond Hubert is a nice addition to the Tar Heels fast break game, as he is a big man that likes to get out and run the floor. He excels at beating opponents to the rim. 

    Stillman White is great at running an offense and knocking down jumpers. 

    This is a very talented recruiting class that could help lead the Tar Heels to a championship in 2012. 

Bench Play

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    The bench is going to be deep and will serve as a key for the Tar Heels this season. Reggie Bullock and Justin Watts will be teamed with most of the 2011 recruiting class to create the Tar Heel bench. Reggie Bullock showed glimpses of greatness before he went down with an injury that ended his season. Reggie is a deadly three-point shooter and a great defender with good speed and size. He will be back to help the Tar Heels win it all.

    Justin Watts is a guy that goes in the game and does all the little things that don't show up on the stat sheet. He comes off the bench and goes hard every play. Watts will need to work on his shot a little more, but will bring a great energy off the bench for the Heels. 

Roy Williams: The Greatest Coach

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    Not only do the Tar Heels have a talented team, but they also have a very talented coach. Roy Williams is the man responsible for assembling this uber-talented team. This team has a chance to be one of the most dangerous teams Williams has ever coached. Not only can this team put points up on the scoreboard in bunches but they are also very good rebounders and defenders.

    Roy could win his third national championship in six years which would help build on an already impressive resume. If coach Roy Williams can get these young players to buy into his system and take off from where they ended last season, they should have no problem running the tables under this talented coach. 

The 6th Man: Tar Heel Nation

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    Tar Heel fans come to cheer for their team night in and night out and add another element to this already deadly Tar Heel team. North Carolina fans are the best and constantly support their team no matter what the outcome. Not only are Heels fans loud at the Dome, but they also travel well to get their team through tough away games. Getting the crowd going at the Dean Dome will be important in order for this team to gain an edge on upset-minded visitors.