Reporting Taylor Zarzour
While State has the most talent and Duke has the best resume, North Carolina is the Triangle team that has impressed me the most this season. When they were 0-2 in the ACC, or 3-3, or even 6-5, you wonderted if Roy Williams would make his second appearance in four seasons in the NIT. But since their hard fought loss at Duke on February 13th, the Heels have won five straight games and are a virtual lock to make the NCAA Tournament. Even more, they have a chance to finish tied for second in the conference, are on the verge of being in the top 25, and if they sweep the week could become a 5 or 6 seed in the big dance.
How has all of this happened? Fans pleaded with Roy to put PJ Hairston in the starting lineup and to take Dexter Strickland out. Instead Williams decided to go small, inserting Hairston but taking out Desmond Hubert. Since the switch before the Duke game, UNC has played with constant heart, they’ve been aggressive, and maybe most importantly, Point Guard Marcus Paige has played with confidence.
I still think Paige’s tournament inexperience could end UNC’s season in the round of 32, but there’s a chance that all of the Tar Heels’ impact players will return next season. And if you add Paige’s confidence with the best high school player in America. Andrew Wiggins, the Heels could be right back at the top of college basketball next season.
So, it wasn’t just a lineup change that altered the complexion of this season, it could change the Tar Heels fortunes for years to come.
Ten Games To Watch
10. #5 Georgetown at Nova on Wed
9. #13 Okla St at Iowa St on Wed
8. #11 Florida at kentucky on Sat
7. #10 Mich St vs #22 Wisconsin on Thurs
6. #9 K State vs #13 Okla St on Sat
5. #8 L’ville vs N Dame on Sat
4. #3 Duke at Carolina on Sat
3. #2 Indiana vs #14 Ohio St tonight
2. #5 G’town vs #17 Syracuse on Sat (final time in the Big East)
1. #2 Indiana at #7 Michigan on Sun
Zags, IU, Duke, The U, KU, G’town, L’ville, Mich, Fla, K State, UNM, Ok St, St L, Ohio St, Mich St, Zona, Cuse, Marq, Pitt, Ore, UCLA, Memph, La Tech, VCU, Wisc.