North Carolina Tarheels

Under Achievers

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

In previous years the ACC has been the premier basketball conference.

Blue blood programs like Duke and North Carolina routinely make the Final Four and win national championships. Both teams played in the Final Four last season and UNC played in the national title game. Both programs are struggling this season.

The Tar Heels were the No. 1 team in the preseason. They have not lived up to those expectations. They currently are 18 – 11, 10 – 8 in conference play.

They did defeat No. 6 Virginia over the weekend. That was their first Quadrant 1 win, which is crucial for an at-large team. They were previously 0 – 9 against those teams.

“His ability to stretch it, and then he can also go inside – he’s tall, man,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Pete Nance. “He filled in the way (Brady Manek) did last year. When they can stretch you out and all of a sudden the floor opens up, that changes their dynamics.”

The Cavaliers (21 – 6) are the highest ranked team in the conference at No. 13. They are currently third-place in the ACC behind Pitt and Miami. They also lost to lowly Boston College earlier last week, scoring a season-low 48 points. UVA is going in the wrong direction less than a month before the NCAA tournament begins.

The Blue Devils (21 – 8) are fifth in the conference. They were No. 7 in the preseason poll. It looks like they are coming together at the perfect time. Star freshman forward Kyle Filipowski is the leading scorer (14.8 points per game) and rebounder (9.2 per game) this season. He should be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft and if he plays well Duke can win any game.

Duke won four consecutive games and they are trending in the right direction as the season is winding down. They have two regular season games remaining against NC State and at North Carolina. The ACC Tournament begins March 7th.

No. 16 Miami (23 – 6) has changed the culture of their program. They used to be known as a football school but over the last few years they changed that. The Hurricanes are coming off of a bad loss to in-state rival Florida State (9 – 20) over the weekend. They blew a 25 point second half lead to lose, 85 – 84.

“We played as well as we could in the first half,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “But it appeared to me to start the second half that our battery died. We didn’t have the energy or juice and it showed most of all with our defense.”

The loss ended Miami’s seven game winning streak. It also knocked them out of an outright lead in the ACC standings and a perfect home record. They have one game remaining against Pitt.

Clemson (21 – 8) is having a surprisingly good season. They are currently fourth in the conference. In previous years this would be more impressive. They should make the NCAA Tournament and they have a chance to win a game.

This is a down year for the ACC but they should get 5-6 teams in the NCAA Tournament. I would be surprised if they have a team that can advance to the Elite Eight.

ACC Is Better Than SEC

By: Kipp Branch news services

Let me start by saying I picked North Carolina to cut down the nets this past Monday night and I have the SSE article from a couple of weeks ago to prove it.

I have been mulling this article over on my mind for a few weeks now. Folks that know me know that I am a die-hard SEC supporter and I make no bones about it.

So, take notice when I type this this next sentence. The ACC is better right now than the SEC. Yes, I said it. Now that I have that out of the way here is why.

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Gonzaga v. North Carolina

By: JJ Lanier news services

Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, this year’s matchup between Gonzaga and North Carolina will be the seventh time two number one seeds will face off for the title.

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Georgia Teams’ Road To March Madness


By: Drayton Hogarth news services

We are well into the college basketball conference schedule and that is when teams play their way into or out of March Madness.

At this point in time, there are a few schools who are virtually guaranteed a spot, but the interesting teams are the ones who are on the proverbial bubble.

The conferences of most interest in our area, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference have multiple teams involved in the tournament. Plus, the Sun Belt Conference will have at least one team with a chance to be the “Cinderella” of March.

There are a handful of teams in those conferences that are true blue bloods of the sport of college basketball, and several have played up to that reputation this season. Those would be North Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky. Plus, we have schools in the state of Georgia vying for a spot among the field of 68.

The Tar Heels of North Carolina came up ever so close to a national championship last season, as they suffered a heartbreaker at the buzzer against the Villanova Wildcats.

North Carolina is positioning itself for yet another run to the Final Four. The Tar Heels may well have the deepest roster in the country, and legendary coach Roy Williams will rely on his team’s experience from last season to try and finish the deal this year.

A team that no one is really sure what kind of team they are right now, is the Duke Blue Devils. While there is no coach better, possibly ever, than Coach Mike Krzyzewski, his squad this season has appeared distracted, may be the best word to use.

This is a team that was predicted to win the ACC in the preseason, but has not been able to live up to such lofty expectations. Whether it is injuries, not only to players, but even to Coach Krzyzewski as he will be sidelined with back surgery; or the antics of hot tempered guard Grayson Allen, this season has been different for the Blue Devils.

Duke will be in the tournament, and have the talent as well as the pedigree to get things turned around. However, if they do not, it will be a quick out for them come March.

With Kentucky, the stalwart of the SEC, Coach John Calipari will yet again rely on a bevy of freshmen All-Americans to lead his Wildcats to a title. Kentucky likely has the highest ceiling of any team in the country, but when it comes to crunch time, can the freshmen handle that pressure? That has been the Cats downfall in previous years, great regular seasons, but fall short in the tournament.

In state, Georgia Southern may be the best shot for a tournament team from the Peach state. The Eagles of Coach Mark Byington have a great shot to win the Sun Belt. The difficulty comes in the conference tournament, it is an absolute must win situation. If the Eagles falter, then there will be no Cinderella opportunity.

Georgia and Georgia Tech may play in post season, but without SEC and ACC conference tournament wins it may prove a difficult task.

The Bulldogs have positioned themselves with the best chance for an at large bid with a solid resume, but they must keep winning. The Bulldogs do not really have a strong win, but the strength of their schedule is that they have “quality losses”, and that won’t get it done for March.

The Yellow Jackets, under first year coach Josh Pastner, need some big wins down the stretch to fortify their record. The Jackets most likely will receive an NIT bid to extend their season. However, that should be considered a solid season for what the Jackets had coming into the season.

As we just now are hitting the stretch run, college basketball will hold its share of upsets and buzzer beaters. The fun part is, we get to sit back and watch it all unfold!

North Carolina Stomping Through ACC

kenBy: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The ACC has been dominated by the Atlantic Division for the last six years. No. 3 Clemson, No. 5 Louisville and No. 12 Florida State are the marquee programs in the conference.

Can a Coastal Division team win the conference championship for the first time since 2009?

No. 21 North Carolina (6-2) appears to be the team most likely to reach the conference championship game for the second consecutive year. The Tar Heels are currently first in the division with a record of 4-1.

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