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dailytarheel.com Thursday, March 9, 2017

March Madness
Preview 2017
Justin
Jackson
reaps the rewards

ofWORK offseason

DTH PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/ZITA VOROS; ORIGINAL PHOTO DTH FILE/GABI PALACIO

The North Carolina junior spent hours learning every shot on the court
By C Jackson Cowart “Everybody’s asking, ‘What did met with strength and conditioning spot,” said Chase Bengel, a UNC half against Virginia drew inspiration
Sports Editor you do to change your shot? What coordinator Jonas Sahratian in the student manager. “You get eight out from Atlanta. A fading shot to beat
did you do?’ I didn’t do anything but afternoons. Different exercises, of 10, and he’d already had his reset. the shot clock against Pittsburgh
Justin Jackson is tired of the just get reps up.” different muscles. There is no favorite And we’d start back over.” came from the third spot in the 9-of-
question. But that’s too easy, isn’t it? Surely, in the weight room. Soon, weights were mandatory, 10 drill. The dagger against Duke to
He’s heard it hundreds of times he made some sort of fundamental “Honestly, it was just whatever but Jackson was already in a rhythm. swing the momentum? He’d done it
now, each time more persistent than change to his mechanics or maybe Jonas threw at me,” Jackson said. At 7 a.m., he had a two-hour date months earlier.
the last. After big wins, after tough to his mentality. But reps don’t make “Most of the time, it wasn’t what I with Sahratian, then class — he is “There’s not a shot on the court
losses. At the podium, in the hallway. the man. A jump that drastic doesn’t wanted to do. And it was hard.” a student, after all — then back to we haven’t practiced,” Bengel said.
Everybody wants to know. come from hours in the gym. So was improving his shot. the gym with Bengel and roommate “There’s not a shot he hasn’t put in
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been Or does it? He studied himself on Synergy Luke Maye. An hour in the afternoon the time to make.”
answering the same thing all year,” from the previous two seasons, and an hour in the evening, with
he said. *** searching for a sign. The only pick-up in between. Another hour ***
Something’s different — that discernible difference between that night, if he was lucky.
much is clear. Just a year ago, the He wasn’t doing enough. misses and makes was the arc: When “That just kind of became our Maybe he’s right.
North Carolina wing looked like an He missed seven shots in the his shot fell flat, it had no chance. ritual,” Bengel said. Maybe the recipe for an All-
rangy role player whose budding national title game: five from the But it was hardly a flaw in his The prize awaiting Jackson was at American is a few thousand reps and
potential would never blossom. field and two from the line. He mechanics. Old Chicago, which offered $2 pizzas $2 pizzas. Maybe a little more arc,
Now, he’s the ACC Player of the Year. missed 70 percent of his 3-point “There was nothing wrong with after 10 p.m. But only if he could a little more confidence and a little
All-American honors are a mere shots during the season, and he his shot … ” Williams said. “It just make his shots. more freedom is all he needed to go
formality, as is his spot in the Smith missed over a third of his shots at the didn’t go in.” “There was never a time where from a fourth option to a formidable
Center rafters. His jump shot is NBA Combine. Assistant coach Hubert Davis we left the gym because he couldn’t scorer.
falling, and his draft stock is soaring. His shot was inconsistent. He — UNC’s career leader in 3-point finish the drill,” Bengel said. “We In his Hall of Fame career,
What changed? didn’t need the scouts to tell him that percentage — aided Jackson in the were gonna stay there until we Williams doesn’t remember any
“Obviously I’ve always said that — his coaches had already. For the offseason. But consistency was some- finished the drill, whether it took two player working on his shot more than
I’ve worked on my shot and I’ve No. 9 prospect in the Class of 2014, thing only the gym could address. hours or 30 minutes.” Jackson did this summer. And for
tried to get better at it,” he said. the numbers didn’t lie. Before, volume was enough. But The drills carried into the regular the Tar Heels’ leading scorer, it’s all
“But it hasn’t translated. So now “If you shoot two years and shoot he needed structure. NBA teams season — an hour before practice muscle memory.
whenever it translates, there has to 29 percent for two years, that’s called don’t care about shots — they care and an hour after. So, too, did the “It’s good to see hard work kind of
be something.” reality,” head coach Roy Williams about makes. shooting touch. paying off,” he said.
Jackson’s meteoric rise has left the said. “And I don’t care how much So, Jackson took what he learned In his first game, he set a new Kind of, because the work isn’t
country confounded, his opponents you think you’re working — it’s not at the combine and put it into career high with 27 points and tied over. The Tar Heels (26-6) could
included. This season, the junior is working.” action. He adapted the “Atlanta his career high with four 3-pointers still face three teams at the ACC
averaging 18.3 points per game — This was a job, and Jackson wasn’t drill” from the Hawks to simulate against Tulane. A month later, Tournament in Brooklyn, where No.
the highest mark for a Tar Heel since putting in his time. So he returned to shooting off screens and on the run, he buried seven triples against 6 UNC plays Miami today at noon.
Tyler Hansbrough in 2009 — and Chapel Hill from Chicago and went and he switched between stand-still Davidson. Two games later? A Beyond that, six more wins separate
shooting a career-high 38.5 percent to work. shooting and game-like situations. career-high 34 points against then- Jackson from the national title that
from deep. He’s only 10 made The teams he interviewed with Ten makes from each mid-range No. 6 Kentucky. his team fell seconds short of last
3-pointers away from the single- had two main concerns: strength spot, then pull-ups, then free throws. “Everybody thinks they’re working season.
season school record. and shooting. His shot was well Seven spots along the 3-point line, hard, but nobody’s really working But Jackson has put in the work.
Is it the speed of his release? What documented, but his body needed nine makes at each. More than two anywhere close to what they can do And maybe that’s all it takes.
about his footwork? His release work. Finish in the lane, fight for misses triggers a reset. More than until somebody pushes them or they “The answer to the question is
point? His arc? your spot, be physical with your two resets? Try again. see a difference,” Williams said. just the hard work … ” Bengel said.
“Honestly, I didn’t change man. For a 6-foot-8, 210-pound “There were some nights where “And I think Justin sees a “There’s no science behind it — it’s
anything in my shot,” he said after a swingman, it was a big ask. we spent a couple hours in the gym difference.” just hard work.”
Feb. 25 win at Pittsburgh, one of the Early in the summer, weights because we’d get almost all the way It felt like practice. A catch-and- @CJacksonCowart
many stops on his redemption tour. weren’t mandatory, but Jackson still around, to the sixth-out-of-seven shoot corner three in an 18-point first sports@dailytarheel.com
2 Thursday, March 9, 2017 March Madness Preview 2017 The Daily Tar Heel

MARCH MADNESS PREVIEW 2017 STAFF
JANE WESTER ZITA VOROS JEREMY VERNON
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF DESIGN & GRAPHICS EDITOR SPORTS ASSISTANT EDITOR

HANNAH SMOOT ALEX KORMANN BLAKE RICHARDSON
MANAGING EDITOR PHOTO EDITOR SPORTS ASSISTANT EDITOR

JOSÉ VALLE SARAH DWYER JOHN BAUMAN
VISUAL MANAGING EDITOR PHOTO EDITOR SPORTS ASSISTANT EDITOR

DANNY NETT ELLIE SCIALABBA BRENDAN MARKS
ONLINE MANAGING EDITOR COPY CHIEF SPORTS SENIOR WRITER

C JACKSON COWART JESS GAUL MOHAMMED HEDADJI
SPORTS EDITOR COPY ASSISTANT EDITOR SPORTS SENIOR WRITER

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Kennedy Meeks hopes to rewrite history
By Mohammed Hedadji was completely different. edit to this year’s story line.
Senior Writer The game didn’t stand out “We all have to remember
because it was another oppor- that we didn’t win it,” Theo
While nothing’s quite like tunity for Meeks to help turn Pinson said. “We lost.”
the original, Kennedy Meeks around a season, clinch an “We got to the national
prefers sequels. ACC title or carry out revenge championship game, but we
Ahead of UNC’s matchup for a past loss. It did because didn’t complete all of our
with Duke on Saturday, Meeks it would be his last. goals. We did everything else.
relished the chance to get a “I mean, it’s my last time We did regular season, ACC
second shot at the Blue Devils. playing (at the Smith Center),” Tournament and we’re in the
It wasn’t just because the Meeks said. “I think it’s defi- same driver’s seat as we were
win would mark a turnaround nitely a little emotional for it last time.”
for the Tar Heels after a loss at to finally be coming to an end.” In order to achieve the one
Virginia on Feb. 27, exactly like So while UNC had already goal they fell short of last sea-
last year. It wasn’t because the clinched the ACC regular son, the Tar Heels will turn to
win would crown the Tar Heels season title outright, and Meeks for his floor leadership
outright ACC regular season some of the lore surrounding and tenacity. The forward
champions, exactly like last the contest had faded, every leads his team in both offen-
year. It wasn’t even for redemp- moment of every play meant sive and defensive rebounds,
tion after a loss to Duke in their that much more to Meeks. a strength UNC will lean on
first matchup — you guessed As UNC enters March throughout tournament play.
it — exactly like last year. Madness, the senior knows So while Meeks cherishes
“I did tell (the players) he’s playing through the fleet- the few remaining games at
how ironic it was that it’s the ing moments of his college UNC, he knows his team’s
same thing,” head coach Roy career. But he hasn’t started main goal is getting back to
Williams said. “There are packing his bags just yet. the national championship
some similarities, but we’ll While the team recognizes game. And Meeks knows that
have to wait another week or the similarities between this it’s on him to help change the
two, or three, or four, or five, year and last, and the Tar final scene of his last season.
or six to see what happens.” Heels certainly wouldn’t turn Because he won’t have a
None of the similarities down an ACC Tournament chance at another sequel.

www.LiveShadowood.com
caught Meeks’ eye with this title, Meeks and the squad are @_Brohammed DTH FILE/SARAH DWYER
sequel, though. This time, it determined to make one key sports@dailytarheel.com Senior Kennedy Meeks (3) cheers after an exciting play during the game against Duke on Saturday.

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The Daily Tar Heel March Madness Preview 2017 Thursday, March 9, 2017 3

New York Life

#1 North Carolina

Game 8
12 p.m.

#9 Miami
Game 12
#4 Louisville 7 p.m.

Game 9
2 p.m.*

#5 Duke
CHAMPIONSHIP
#2 Florida State 9 p.m. ACC CHAMPION

Game 10
7 p.m.*

#7 Virginia Tech / #10 Wake Forest
Game 13
#3 Notre Dame 9 p.m.*

Game 11
9 p.m.*

#6 Virginia / #14 Pittsburgh *approximate time
4 Thursday, March 9, 2017 March Madness Preview 2017 The Daily Tar Heel

Isaiah Hicks among UNC’s biggest questions
The senior forward 20 points; teasing a Brice
Johnson-level jump wasn’t out
8, when he injured his
hamstring during practice.
situation like this in the past.
“I’m not used to dealing
16 season, he committed a
whopping 6.7 fouls per 40
keep him on the court.”
But even with the recent
has struggled since of the question for the 2016 He was held out the following with injury because it never minutes. Hicks has dropped struggles, Hicks’ teammates
ACC Sixth Man of the Year. night at Duke — a game in happens to me,” he said. that number to 5.6 in 2016- haven’t lost faith in him. They
returning from injury. But now, after an injury and which the Tar Heels were Never isn’t an exaggeration. 17, but he’s still a threat to know he’s still capable of big
a string of poor outings, Hicks outrebounded and struggled Before missing the road Duke foul out every time he plays a games — like his 21-point,
By Jeremy Vernon has become one of the Tar scoring down low. game this season, Hicks had game. Through 31 games this nine-rebound performance
Assistant Sports Editor Heels’ biggest question marks In his first game back, played in all 137 of UNC’s season, he has picked up at against Duke on senior night.
as they enter the postseason. Hicks stayed on the floor just games since he was a first-year least four fouls 13 times. “He gets here in the
This was supposed to be “He had a stretch there ... seven minutes because of foul in 2013-14. When he’s played “If he can stay out of foul morning every day to get
Isaiah Hicks’ season. And, for that his numbers were really trouble. Two games later, he that long without any setbacks, trouble and stay on the court, extra treatment and get back
a while, it was. outstanding,” head coach Roy played just 14 minutes and it’s reasonable to think missing whether it’s getting him the healthy, full, 100 percent so
During the North Carolina Williams said. “And he’s gotta scored 0 points — the first time time threw him into a funk. ball down low or him getting he can be out there with us,”
men’s basketball team’s get back to that if we’re going he had been held scoreless in a But at the heart of these offensive rebounds and Theo Pinson said.
seven-game winning streak in to be as good a team as we game since Feb. 28, 2015. poor performances is helping us on the defensive “So I’m not really worried
January, the senior forward want to be.” So why the drop off? First, something that’s plagued end, all that will help us out,” about him. He’ll be all right.”
scored in double figures five Things started going it might be worth noting that Hicks for the past two years: Joel Berry said. “So just the @jbo_vernon
times and twice had at least downhill for Hicks on Feb. Hicks hasn’t really seen a foul trouble. During the 2015- biggest thing, we’ve just got to sports@dailytarheel.com

How does Justin Jackson compare to ACC POYs? Compiled by assistant
sports editor Jeremy
Vernon

North Carolina junior wing Justin Jackson was named the 2017 ACC Player of the Year on March 5. He is also among the 15 players in the
country still vying for the John R. Wooden Award. Here’s how he stacks up to the past five Tar Heels who have won ACC Player of the Year.

Justin Jackson Tyler Zeller Ty Lawson Tyler Hansbrough Joseph Forte Antawn Jamison
Year: 2017 Year: 2012 Year: 2009 Year: 2008 Year: 2001 Year: 1998
Stats per game: Stats per game: Stats per game: Stats per game: Stats per game: 20.9 Stats per game:
18.3 points, 4.7 16.3 points, 9.6 16.6 points, 3.0 22.6 points, 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 22.2 points, 10.5
rebounds, 2.6 assists rebounds, 0.9 assists rebounds, 6.6 assists rebounds, 0.9 assists 3.5 assists rebounds, 0.8 assists
UNC record: 26-6 UNC record: 32-6 UNC record: 34-4 UNC record: 36-3 UNC record: 26-7 UNC record: 34-4
(14-4 ACC) (14-2 ACC) (13-3 ACC) (14-2 ACC) (13-3 ACC) (13-3 ACC)
NCAA Tournament: NCAA Tournament: NCAA Tournament: NCAA Tournament: NCAA Tournament: NCAA Tournament:
The NCAA Tournament Lost in Elite Eight Won national title Lost in Final Four Lost in second round Lost in Final Four
is yet to be played. (80-67 vs. Kansas) (89-72 vs. Mich. State) (84-66 vs. Kansas) (82-74 vs. Penn State) (65-59 vs. Utah)

Stilman White prepares for end of road map with Tar Heels
By Brendan Marks those pointy suckers straight Green and Harrison Barnes, Sweet 16 matchup against mance years earlier. Ever since, “I made my LinkedIn profile
Senior Writer into the Pacific Ocean. He’s now in their fifth NBA Ohio — dropping six assists in he’s largely been relegated to last week,” he admits, “because
been there, too. seasons, each scored in double 32 minutes. He added seven the end of the bench. I know that my basketball
Take a map of the United Twice. digits that night on an aircraft assists in UNC’s next game, an But while his on-the-court career is coming to an end.”
States — a big one, with all But now, six years since carrier in San Diego Bay. Elite Eight loss to Kansas. role has diminished, White is But it isn’t over just yet.
the roads and rivers and he first traversed the country Brandon Robinson, one of Had the Tar Heels won and still relevant to this UNC team. He’ll make a stop in Brooklyn
wrinkles across the country with the North Carolina men’s White’s teammates now, was made it to the Final Four? He recounts stories of for the ACC Tournament this
— and lay it out. Then, chuck basketball team, Stilman only 13 then. “It would have been one of past games, old teammates, weekend. After that, maybe
darts at it; stick those points White’s playing career is finally “That was so long ago,” Joel the great stories of all time,” key moments that helped to South Carolina or Florida
wherever they may land. on its last legs. Berry said of White’s first year. head coach Roy Williams said. steer the program one way for the opening rounds of the
Maybe in Wilmington, or “It’s how I’ve identified “It’s pretty wild, but that’s just Except that’s pretty much or another. He’s picked up NCAA Tournament.
even Chapel Hill. Or cross myself growing — being a the path he’s taken.” where White’s basketball map a nickname — Water, or as And then?
completely over to the other basketball player,” White said. And while White played in ends — the path just stops. He Kennedy Meeks says, “Wata” If all goes according to
side of the map; tack one in “And in a couple months, that’s that first game, it wasn’t until left the basketball program for — for his smooth jump shot, plan, White will end his
northern Utah or Las Vegas not gonna be the case.” several months later that he’d the next two years, venturing and there’s even a rumor it’s college basketball career
or Iowa. No matter where, the Before we come to the end, earn serious playing time. west to complete his Mormon tattooed on his side. That somewhere new on the map:
basketball player’s likely been though, let’s go to the start. After an injury to starting mission. camaraderie speaks volumes, Phoenix, the site of this year’s
there over the past six years. His first college game? The point guard Kendall Marshall, When he returned in the even if his play might not. national title game.
Heck, if you want, miss 2011 Carrier Classic against White stepped into the fall of 2014, he’d lost any role So what — or where — in @BrendanRMarks
the map entirely — fire Michigan State. Draymond starting lineup for UNC’s he warranted with his perfor- the world is next for White? sports@dailytarheel.com
The Daily Tar Heel March Madness Preview 2017 Thursday, March 9, 2017 5

How does this Tar Heel team stack up? Compiled by assistant
sports editor Jeremy
Vernon

There are more similarities between the 2016-17 UNC men’s basketball team and last year’s squad than you might have previously thought.
2015-16 2016-17
AP POLL Preseason: No. 1, End of regular season: No. 7 Preseason: No. 6, End of regular season: No. 6
RANKINGS
REGULAR SEASON Record: 25-6 (14-4 ACC), 15-1 at home Record: 26-6 (14-4 ACC), 16-0 at home
RESUME Won outright ACC Championship Won outright ACC Championship

STATS Brice Johnson: 17.0 ppg, Brice Johnson: 10.4 rpg and Justin Jackson: 18.3 ppg, Kennedy Meeks: 9.1 rpg
LEADERS Joel Berry: 3.8 apg and Joel Berry: 3.7 apg

TEAM Offensive efficiency: 123.3 (1st) Offensive efficiency: 121.9 (4th)
Defensive efficiency: 93.5 (21st) Defensive efficiency: 94.1 (23rd)
STATS
ACC TOURNAMENT Washington, D.C. Brooklyn, N.Y.
SITE
ACC TOURNAMENT Won ACC Tournament TBD
RESULT
NCAA TOURNAMENT Lost in national title game to Villanova TBD
RESULT

3-point shooting shines within confines of strict UNC offense
Joel Berry and Justin All this has come within the
confines of Williams’ inside-
it go inside first and then we
shoot them, but he said, ‘Justin
It’s all about, ‘They are good
shooters, so let ‘em shoot.’”
Jackson are top-4 in the out, regimented offensive and Joel, they make them.’ Let them shoot, but not
system. Williams’ offense is So he can’t really get mad at quite as much as Steph and
ACC in threes per game. predicated on getting the ball them.” Klay. Jackson and Berry
inside, feeding traditional Since Williams started straddle the theoretical 3-point
By John Bauman possession-eaters like coaching at North Carolina in line: They take as many open
Assistant Sports Editor Tyler Hansbrough or Brice 2003, the Tar Heels have never threes as they can while still
Johnson. Without a dominant ranked higher than 199th in playing within the offense.
Joel Berry fired a pass to inside force, UNC’s guards the country in the percentage Williams will take that — most
Justin Jackson and started and 3-point shooting have of 3-point field goal attempts times.
backpedaling before Jackson flourished. over field goal attempts, per “If we are the Steph and
could even begin his shooting “We don’t have anybody kenpom.com. Simply put, Klay that I know, where they
motion. No. 44 had a wide- like Brice that we could just ... relatively few of UNC’s shots are making threes, then I don’t
open transition look at a throw the ball down to,” Berry come from beyond the arc. think he could say anything,”
3-pointer, his 10th attempt of said. “This year is more — I This season, the team ranks Berry said.
the day. He drained it. feel like it’s more of a guard- 314th in the country in that “I mean, it’s three points.
North Carolina’s bench play thing than getting the ball category, despite shooting 37 Three points add up to a lot of
loved it. Theo Pinson pulled down low.” percent from deep as a team. points.” DTH FILE/ALEX KORMANN
imaginary arrows out of an Williams wants 3-point There’s a gap there — most @bauman_john North Carolina junior wing Justin Jackson (44) shoots a
imaginary bag on his back attempts to come within the teams that shoot that well from sports@dailytarheel.com 3-pointer against Louisville on Feb. 22 in the Smith Center.
and fired them into a silent flow of the game. Even if beyond the arc and have two
Petersen Events Center. Berry and Jackson can shoot deadly shooters like Berry and
Even head coach Roy like Stephen Curry and Klay Jackson would increase their
Williams was impressed with Thompson of the Golden State volume from deep. But the gap,
his star wing’s performance. Warriors, you won’t see any the persistence in playing an
“Five-for-11 from three,” North Carolina players pulling inside-out style of basketball,
Williams said after UNC’s win up from half court in transition is the way Williams likes it. His
over Pittsburgh on Feb. 25. like those pros do. players appreciate it too.
“That’s pretty doggone good. Instead, Jackson will take “We still know that we gotta
We’ll take that most times.” open threes after coming get the ball down low, and
It was one of many standout around two pin-down screens we don’t have a problem with
3-point shooting nights from on the weak side of the floor, that,” Berry said. “We want to
Jackson. The junior has shot spaced around an Isaiah Hicks get it down there because if
38.5 percent from beyond the post-up. Seventy-six percent of they crash in, that’s an open
arc this season, a 9.3 percent Berry’s 3-point field goals have opportunity for us out on the
increase over last year. been assisted, per hoop-math. wing. So we don’t mind it all.”
On nights when he’s off, com. Jackson’s mark is even Williams’ offense also
Berry takes over. He’s been higher — 85.9 percent. doesn’t limit great shooters.
even better from deep in 2016- They both have the green “He’s always let good 3-point
17, shooting 42.4 percent in 30 light this season, even if it shooters shoot,” Hicks said.
games. Both Jackson (2.7) and comes at the expense of a post- “I would say that’s his thing. I
Berry (2.5) players rank among up look for another Tar Heel. wouldn’t say he ever limited
the top-four in the ACC in “Coach just wants the best Danny Green’s or Wayne
made 3-pointers per game. shot,” Pinson said. “He’d rather Ellington’s shot attempts.

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6 Thursday, March 9, 2017 March Madness Preview 2017 The Daily Tar Heel

DTH SPORTS STAFF PREDICTS
Will UNC repeat as ACC Tournament champions? Will the Tar Heels be able to avenge their loss to Villanova in the 2016 national title game?
The Daily Tar Heel Sports Desk explains how it thinks March Madness 2017 will shake out for the North Carolina men’s basketball team.
C Jackson Cowart, sports Charlottesville, Virginia, but come out stronger each against competition that that it can top the Cardinals. But expect the Tar Heels
editor and the guy you Jackson scores seven points time. Losses at Georgia Tech, knows how to exploit them. That puts UNC in the final to respond to their bitter loss
and the Tar Heels look like Miami and Duke only made This, in my mind, is against what could be several with a blazing start to the
swore was in your class amateurs offensively. this team better. UNC’s home what will make the ACC different teams. The Cavaliers NCAA Tournament. UNC
but hasn’t shown up in That’s the issue with this win against Duke on Senior Tournament particularly would pose the biggest threat has yet to experience a losing
like three weeks year’s team — the ceiling is Night is the best proof of that. threatening, since those to the Tar Heels — they fig- streak this season, and it won’t
the roof. There’s no limit to I believe in Isaiah Hicks’ opponents know North ured out how to effectively before the season is over.
Nothing confuses me UNC’s potential, in either ability to not foul in March. Carolina better than any stop Justin Jackson, some- Despite being dropped
more than this year’s North direction. I believe Kennedy Meeks other foes in the country. thing few other teams have to a No. 2 seed from an
Carolina team. I think the Tar Heels will can dial it up an extra gear UNC’s strengths are so been able to do — but I don’t early ACC tournament loss,
Before the season, the take home the ACC title, if and lead this team back to the staggering, though, that I see Virginia getting through. North Carolina will power
Tar Heels resembled a Final only because they’re unlikely Final Four. don’t see the average team That leaves Florida State its way to a 20th Final Four
Four squad with Sweet 16 to face nemesis Virginia along I believe in Joel Berry, finding those weaknesses and Notre Dame as the likely appearance.
weaknesses — high-level the way. But once North Justin Jackson and the fast enough to keep the Tar opponents, neither of which In a redemption story
production across the board Carolina gets to the NCAA likelihood that their shots will Heels from winning the jump off the page. North rivaled only by UNC’s 2009
but no star player to guide a Tournament, all bets are off. keep falling even as the games ACC Tournament, NCAA Carolina will win the ACC national title run (and
run through the Big Dance. Face an opponent with a get more intense. Tournament or even both. Tournament for the second perhaps the 2008 Redeem
Then Joel Berry morphed strong frontcourt and compe- I believe in North (Heck, you know what I year in a row. Team), the Tar Heels will
into an assassin in Maui, tent 3-point shooters, and it’ll Carolina’s bench, one of the think. I wrote a whole column But once the Tar meet Villanova once more in
Justin Jackson became the be an untimely exit. I think deepest in the country. Any about it on page 7.) Heels move to the NCAA the national championship —
most feared scorer in the ACC the Tar Heels’ kryptonite coach would love to have Maybe I’m an optimist, Tournament, things will start this time as the underdog.
(I hear his offseason work will come in the Elite Eight, Luke Maye or Nate Britt to maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m to get very tough for a team Against a talented but
had something to do with it even if they’re better than the plug into key moments. First- still hurt and hopeful after with a lot of sketchy parts. undersized Wildcat group,
… ) and Kenny Williams went round would suggest. years Tony Bradley, Brandon last year’s heartbreak. It’s hard not to imagine the Tar Heels will own the
from cringeworthy backup Robinson and Seventh Woods But maybe — just maybe — a scenario in which Isaiah glass en route to a sixth
to crucial starter with Theo
John Bauman, assistant have also proven their worth. I’m also right. Hicks fouls out of a game NCAA title.
Pinson sidelined. Most of all, I believe in or Joel Berry has one of his
That was before UNC’s sports editor and Wii
Bowling world-record
Roy Williams. He’s been here Jeremy Vernon, assistant vanishing-act games where he Brendan Marks, senior
embarrassing loss at Georgia many times before. I think goes 0-for from the floor.
Tech. That’s when the holder sports editor and the writer and Marcus Paige
he has masterfully managed The Tar Heels will be able
madness began. expectations with this current guy you’ve definitely to weather the first few tests. jinxer/Brice Johnson
Since the turn of the calen- I believe in this North team, ensuring that its best seen at Four Corners But once they hit the Sweet whisperer
dar, the North Carolina roster Carolina team. I really do. basketball would come in 16 and a batch of tougher
has engaged in a high-stakes UNC has as much March. By now, most of you have teams, they’ll get punched in Yes, North Carolina looked
game of musical chairs. Seven motivation as any team in Well, March is here. And probably heard enough of my the mouth and won’t be able good in its season finale
players score at least nine the country following last I believe that North Carolina opinions on this team (and to recover. against Duke, and yes, it won
points against N.C. State, and year’s defeat in the Final will get back to the Final Four if you haven’t, please check the toughest conference in
the Tar Heels are on top of Four. The players have talked out my column on Page 7 the country by two games.
a lot about how much that
— and win it this time.
and try your best to refrain Mohammed Hedadji, There’s clearly reason for
the world. Two players do at
Miami, and UNC falls apart. experience — and the fun from slinging expletives in senior writer and optimism, with Isaiah Hicks’
the team had during it — has Blake Richardson, my direction if you see me on founding member of the improvement of late and
Jackson drops 18 in the
first half against Virginia, motivated them to return. assistant sports editor campus after spring break). “Start Isaiah Hicks” Club Justin Jackson’s shooting
and North Carolina is a title And this season, the Tar and dog enthusiast That said, I still think (Est. 2013) from deep.
favorite. Nine days later in Heels have taken their hits this North Carolina team But there’s still reason for
I know, I know. North is a top-tier squad in the I dare not count North concern. UNC has struggled
Carolina has its weaknesses country. No team in the ACC Carolina out before the team against some of the toughest
— chinks in the armor that matches up great with the even steps foot in Brooklyn, defenses it has faced, and
could be fatal down the Tar Heels. Duke, Florida but it’s difficult to see the Tar when the Tar Heels can’t
stretch in tournament play. State and Notre Dame don’t Heels earning their way to outscore their opponents,
But that doesn’t mean rebound well enough. Miami a sixth ACC Championship they haven’t proven an ability
UNC will not find success and Virginia don’t have the appearance in seven years — to get enough stops to win.
in the ACC and NCAA scoring prowess to keep up. let alone winning it all. An ACC Tournament title is
Tournaments. If anything, And N.C. State — oh, wait, While UNC has dominated well within their capabilities,
the offense will get faster the Wolfpack were eliminated its ACC foes as of late, the Tar but their inconsistency against
under the spotlight, and the in the first round. Sorry, Mark Heels will ultimately fail to top defenses means they
team’s depth and experience Gottfried. double-up the best conference might fall short of last season’s
will prove life-saving in The Tar Heels should in the country for a second heights.
games that hinge on flawless work past their first round straight year. I see North Carolina
performances in the final opponent in the ACC With the ACC regular- making it to the Elite Eight
minutes. Tournament with relative season title in hand, and and maybe even the Final
I know that in the right cir- ease. A potential rematch in front of a sea of Orange Four. But by that point,
cumstances, North Carolina with Louisville could await faithful, the Tar Heels will I don’t trust the defense
could collapse. There are in the semifinal Friday, but stumble against Syracuse in enough to get back to the
holes in the Tar Heels’ play North Carolina has shown stunning fashion. title game.
that will turn into craters

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The Daily Tar Heel March Madness Preview 2017 Thursday, March 9, 2017 7

THE REAL QUESTION: WILL UNC WIN IT ALL?

DTH FILE/ALEX KORMANN DTH FILE/TARYN REVOIR
Justin Jackson (44), Joel Berry (2) and Nate Britt (0) share a laugh after defeating Duke on Saturday. Joel Berry (2) and Justin Jackson (44) walk off the court in dejection after losing to UVa. on the road.

The Tar Heels have what it takes This team could fall apart any day
By Blake Richardson final minutes, depth is huge. coach Roy Williams. Roy has By Jeremy Vernon can get back to that point elicits the same things but
Assistant Sports Editor And that’s just the top of the led UNC to the Final Four or Assistant Sports Editor — let alone win the whole just from Roy Williams.
list. Don’t forget rebounding, better four times, and only five thing — you might have Even Justin Jackson, the
The North Carolina men’s where the Tar Heels lead college coaches in basketball I’m gonna get a lot of shit inhaled a little too much ACC Player of the Year, has
basketball team will be the the nation with an average history have more national for this. smoke on Franklin Street on air-balled as many threes as
2017 national champions. rebounding margin of 13. titles. North Carolina could not Chances are, if you’re Saturday night. he’s made over the past two
(Quick: Stop reading this Remember how they beat be in better hands. a North Carolina men’s Almost every member of games.
and go knock on wood.) Duke on Saturday? How Roy isn’t the only experi- basketball fan, right now the Tar Heels’ roster could be Twenty minutes after I
Did you? Good. Let’s about that 65-41 home win enced one. Every single UNC you’re riding high on the a cause for concern heading wrote the previous para-
continue. over Virginia? The 11-point starter played in last season’s emotions of the Tar Heels’ into the NCAA Tournament. I graph, my editor let me know
First, I admit that as a UNC Louisville win? Of those games, national championship game. 90-83 win over Duke say “almost” because Brandon I forgot to mention Nate
student with a photo of Roy the Cardinals scored the most They know what it takes. And on Saturday. And that’s Robinson, Stilman White Britt. I guess that’s pretty
Williams in a sideways ACC second-chance points with they have something to prove. understandable. North and the walk-ons don’t play telling given his performance
Championship hat taped to my eight. Those kinds of numbers Last season had the most Carolina played well — enough to monumentally this season.
bedroom door, I’m biased. But win championships. painful ending imaginable, Grayson Allen didn’t. Joel screw things up. The Tar Heels have been
hear me out. While UNC uses its but that’s also the Tar Heels’ Berry looked like first-half- Berry has been as inconsis- able to survive this season
The Tar Heels — ACC rebounding edge to rein in biggest strength. Their heart- of-the-season Joel Berry and tent this season as the Wi-Fi when one of their wheels falls
outright regular-season opponents, it buries them break became their fire. In the Isaiah Hicks played more signal in my apartment. off the wagon. And when
champions — have the talent. with scoring in notoriously months of ruminating over than eight minutes. There Pinson hasn’t scored since every player is playing his
They’re led by two stars: fast-paced play; that’s why the 4.7 seconds, they — more than were plenty of reasons to Feb. 25. Hicks — sans his per- best, UNC can beat anyone in
ACC Player of the Year Justin Tar Heels are so much more anyone else in the country — celebrate. formance against Duke — has the country.
Jackson and All-ACC Second fun to watch than other teams clung to one goal: going back. But now it’s tournament spent more valuable time on But as Georgia Tech, the
Team selection Joel Berry. (cough, cough, Virginia). Bring me a team that has time. These next four weeks the exercise bike than on the toughest ACC team to ever
While other teams have The nation’s 11th-best greater hunger, motivation and will take the Tar Heels out court over the past month. He lose in the first round of the
their hot shots, they pale in scoring offense boasts an drive than these players do. I’d of the comfort of the Smith also missed an uncontested conference tournament, and
comparison to UNC’s depth, arsenal of 3-point shooters and wait, except you won’t find one. Center, where UNC went dunk against the Blue Devils Miami — which actually had
including Kennedy Meeks capitalizes on opportunities Not now, not last year, maybe undefeated, and toss them because he “jumped too high.” more turnovers than assists
— the ACC’s second-most with 18 assists per game, the not ever. A team like this will into a gauntlet against college OK, Isaiah. this season — showed us,
efficient shooter and fourth- nation’s fourth-highest average. not go down without bleeding. basketball’s best conference It seems like the only way North Carolina has some
best rebounder — Isaiah Hicks, But UNC’s superior strength is A team like this will not go before facing dozens of Kennedy Meeks can score is if fatal flaws.
Theo Pinson and Tony Bradley. arguably in the paint, where it down. Period. That leaves only other teams vying for a he misses a shot first. I don’t There are too many things
Nine players average over 10 grabs 42 percent of its misses. one prediction worth having. championship crown. think Tony Bradley has ever that can go wrong with
minutes per game, and four Defending UNC is like leav- The University of North Sure, some of these players used his left hand. Every time this team for something
average over 10 points. ing Rams Head Dining Hall Carolina will become The have been there before. In Luke Maye touches the ball, not to during the NCAA
In NCAA Tournament play, without taking a cookie for the University of National fact, all five North Carolina he incites more audible gasps Tournament. It doesn’t take
where fatigue or foul trouble road: Doable, but to borrow Champions. starters played in last season’s and screams of “NOOOOO” 4.7 seconds to figure that out.
can be the kiss of death with Roy’s words, dadgum difficult! @rblakerich_ national title game. than any player in the @jbo_vernon
so many games decided in the That brings me to head sports@dailytarheel.com But if you think this team country. Seventh Woods sports@dailytarheel.com

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8 Thursday, March 9, 2017 March Madness Preview 2017 The Daily Tar Heel

8 GAMES THAT DEFINED UNC’S SEASON
Nov. 23 Nov. 30
UNC 71, Wisconsin 56 Indiana 76, UNC 67
North Carolina’s 71-56 Great teams not only need
win over Wisconsin on Nov. to learn how to win. They also
23 was the 2016-17 Tar need to learn how to lose.
Heels’ first taste of what a Indiana and the 17,222
championship feels like. people in attendance at
Thanks to 22 points from Assembly Hall on Nov. 30
Joel Berry and 15 points from taught North Carolina a
Kennedy Meeks, the Tar hard, but needed, lesson in
Heels bested the field of the what it takes to beat good
Maui Invitational, earning teams on the road.
praise as the potential top DTH FILE/PEGGY MULLIN OG Anunoby had 16 points DTH FILE/TARYN REVOIR
team in the nation. Isaiah Hicks (4) throws down a dunk against Florida State. in 29 minutes to lead the The players sit on the bench at the end of their loss at Virginia.
North Carolina cruised Hoosiers. Indiana also shot
through the field — beating been all season — UNC held UNC’s depth proved to be an well all night long, punctuated was one of Jackson’s first big before Indiana held the
Chaminade, 104-61, on Nov. Wisconsin to 38.2 percent asset all season long. with 44.4 percent shooting games in the 2016-17 season, advantage for the remaining
21; destroying Oklahoma field-goal shooting in the Throughout the season, from 3-point land in the but even he couldn’t help 39:40. This experience —
State a day later, 107-75; and game. North Carolina could look second half of the close contest. the Tar Heels climb out of a both from playing behind
finishing with a 15-point The win also showed off back on its play in Hawaii as For the Tar Heels, 21 41-29 halftime deficit. and competing in front of a
victory over the Badgers. the Tar Heels’ balance — four an example of what the team points on 7-of-13 shooting North Carolina didn’t lead hostile road environment —
The Tar Heels’ defensive players scored in double could accomplish when it was from Justin Jackson didn’t in this game — the game was served the Tar Heels well in
intensity was as good as it has figures against Wisconsin. at its best. prove to be enough. This tied for the first 20 seconds ACC play.

Dec. 17 Dec. 31
Kentucky 103, UNC 100 Ga. Tech 75, UNC 63
Great teams also need North Carolina began
to learn how to perform on conference play unceremoni-
big stages. The CBS Sports ously at noon on New Year’s
Classic, played at T-Mobile Eve. The announced atten-
Arena in Las Vegas, isn’t quite dance at McCamish Pavilion
the same stage as the Final in Atlanta was 7,754, but it’s
Four — but it’s about the safe to say at least a third
closest a team can get outside of those in the stands were
of March. wearing Carolina blue.
The highly anticipated Despite what looked to
matchup played out in front DTH FILE/BRIANNA LADD be an easy opening draw DTH FILE/ISABEL DONNOLO
of a national audience and Justin Jackson (44) reaches to ward off a Kentucky defender. against a Georgia Tech team Justin Jackson (44) goes up for a shot over Georgia Tech defenders.
didn’t disappoint. Kentucky’s that came into the game with
Malik Monk played 38 to match each of Monk’s the dominant scorer that he four losses and with a crowd the field and making 27.3 (5-of-26) and couldn’t turn it
minutes and scored 47 points, baskets. But the Tar Heels fell became in the ACC season. with more than a few friendly percent of their 3-pointers. on in the second half to make a
knocking down eight of the 12 short in a 103-100 loss. Head coach Roy Williams faces, North Carolina lost to But their 1-3-1 zone stifled the comeback.
3-pointers he attempted. Jackson finished with 34 found himself with a two-loss Georgia Tech, 75-63. Tar Heels just enough to down The mood in the North
UNC’s Kenny Williams points on 10-of-17 shooting team after losses to Indiana The Yellow Jackets didn’t UNC by 12 points. Carolina locker room was
did his best to guard the from the field. This game was and Kentucky, but both left shoot particularly well that North Carolina turned the solemn after the defeat — a
superstar first-year, and another step forward for him the Tar Heels battle-tested afternoon, converting 41.5 ball over 20 times, took and needed reminder that nothing
Justin Jackson did his best as he came one step closer to heading into conference play. percent of their attempts from missed far too many 3-pointers comes easy in the ACC.

Jan. 8 Feb. 9
UNC 107, NC State 56 Duke 86, UNC 78
If North Carolina needed The first UNC-Duke game
a confidence boost to help feels like so long ago. But just
jump-start 2017, a 51-point over a month ago, the Tar
victory over a rival at home Heels were feeling down after
certainly did the trick. losing to Duke in Cameron
UNC jumped all over the Indoor Stadium, 86-78.
Wolfpack from the start. The Grayson Allen had 25
Tar Heels mounted a 26-4 points, Luke Kennard added
lead after a 3-pointer by Joel 20 points and Jayson Tatum
Berry with 11:35 remaining in had 19 points in the second
the first half. They dominated DTH FILE/NATHAN KLIMA half alone to lead the Blue DTH FILE/SARAH DWYER
and built upon their lead the Kennedy Meeks (3) looks for an open pass against N.C. State. Devils to victory. Joel Berry (2) goes up for a layup between two Duke defenders.
rest of the afternoon. The Tar Heels were
No one player stood out Joel Berry added 19. This big victory over the without starting power phenom had his way with the beat the Blue Devils — at
in this one for UNC. Instead, This was also a complete Wolfpack launched a stretch forward Isaiah Hicks in this UNC defense. least not the first time
it was a team effort. Ten effort from the Tar Heels. The of strong play to help the one. That meant extended North Carolina did a lot of around.
Tar Heels played at least 13 defense held the Wolfpack Tar Heels recover from the run for sophomore Luke things well in the first meeting This loss provided fuel
minutes and nobody played to 36.5 percent shooting for opening stumble against Maye and first-year Tony with its bitter rival: 13 assists to the fire for the rest of the
more than 23. Still, Justin the game. N.C. State also Georgia Tech. It also reminded Bradley. Maye did his best to five turnovers and 52.5 per- season and gave the Tar Heels
Jackson found a way to pour had 26 turnovers and got people just how dominant this early on against Tatum, but cent shooting for the game. a little extra motivation for
in an efficient 21 points, while outrebounded by 14. North Carolina team can be. eventually, the first-year But it wasn’t enough to the next matchup.

Feb. 18 March 4
UNC 65, UVa. 41 UNC 90, Duke 83
North Carolina head coach North Carolina’s 90-83
Roy Williams understands win over Duke felt like the
that sometimes, you have to culmination of a season’s
win ugly. One of his favorite worth of trials and triumphs.
phrases tells how he prefers Luke Kennard had 28
to win in the 70s and 80s, but points on 9-of-17 shooting
to be a really good basketball from the field in a potential
team, you have to be able to battle with Justin Jackson for
win in the 50s and 60s. ACC Player of the Year. UNC
UNC won in the 60s on couldn’t stop him, but slowed
Feb. 18 with a 65-41 victory DTH FILE/ALEX KORMANN him just enough to allow Joel DTH FILE/ALEX KORMANN
over Virginia in the Smith Justin Jackson (44) drives in against a Virginia defender. Berry to be the hero. Joel Berry (2) dives for a loose ball against Duke on Saturday.
Center. Berry had 28 points,
The Cavaliers just couldn’t North Carolina had to the key ingredients to success. including shooting 5-of-5 Player of the Year season. percent field-goal shooting in
get anything going offensively grind out its baskets, too. The This win was impressive from 3-point land, avenging North Carolina shared the the second half.
that night, shooting 27.8 Tar Heels turned the ball over because of how North misses against Duke from ball, dishing out 19 assists After a year’s worth of
percent from the field for the nine times but found a way Carolina won — in a low- both this season and last year. while only committing nine battles, UNC came out on top
game. Their 0-for-8 shooting to generate enough offense to scoring, intense conference Justin Jackson struggled turnovers. The Tar Heels in its final test of the regular
from beyond the arc in the win. Ten offensive rebounds matchup. early on, but his strong play also dialed up the defensive season, cementing an ACC
first half looks particularly for the team and 20 points After this one, UNC knew down the stretch was the intensity they displayed in regular-season championship
bad in retrospect. from Justin Jackson served as it could win ugly. finishing touch on an ACC Maui by holding Duke to 36.7 in the process.

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The Daily Tar Heel March Madness Preview 2017 Thursday, March 9, 2017 9

5 potentially tough NCAA matchups
March Madness often
comes down to the
matchups.
zone defenses. They also
struggled at times to play
at the tempo of a team like
WICHITA STATE PURDUE
No matter how hot your Virginia, one of the slowest Keep an eye out for Wichita Purdue finished the regular
favorite team might be squads in the country. State. They are always a season with a 25-6 record.
playing, if they run into a Finally, UNC let shooters dangerous team in March They were impressive at
tough draw in the bracket, get hot and torch them despite not coming from a home, dropping only two
their season could end. for big days. With Kenny Power-5 conference. games throughout their
Many upsets in the Williams, the Tar Heels’ best On Mar. 5, the Shockers arduous nonconference and
tournament also come when perimeter defender, out for claimed the Missouri Valley Big-10 schedule.
two teams with contrasting March Madness with a knee Conference Tournament crown Sophomore sensation
styles face off. The push injury, this issue is only more for the fourth time in program Caleb Swanigan started all
and pull of playing styles is problematic. history with a 71-51 win over 31 games for Purdue and
entertaining to watch and There’s a chance — a Illinois State. The win was also grew into a reliable scorer
can shake up the bracket with strong chance — that North their 30th of the season, which by junior guard Conner and dominant rebounder. tone, the Boilermakers have
upsets and close games. Carolina won’t face most of marks the fourth time in five Frankamp, who earned Most Swanigan averaged 18.7 built a team identity around
With that in mind, here these teams, let alone all of seasons that the Shockers have Outstanding Player honors in points and 12.6 rebounds in rebounding the ball. Their
are five teams that do not them. But now’s the time to hit that milestone. the MVC Tournament. the regular season, leading emphasis and ability on the
match up well with North read up on some potential The conference The Shockers can shoot his team in both categories. boards could take away one
Carolina. The Tar Heels have foes during March Madness tournament title ensured that a high percentage from the He could be a tough of UNC’s biggest strengths —
a few shortcomings that could to see how their strengths and Wichita State will go dancing 3, rebound well and get to matchup inside for North the offensive glass.
do them in during March weaknesses compare to the for the sixth-straight year, the free-throw line. It’s a Carolina’s big men, who Purdue is also a great
Madness. Tar Heels’. tying Cincinnati’s conference dangerous combination that sometimes struggle to avoid 3-point shooting team. The
Throughout the regular Compiled by assistant record for consecutive NCAA could give North Carolina playing defense without Boilermakers shot 40.6
season, North Carolina sports editors John Bauman appearances. trouble if they meet in the fouling. percent as a team from
struggled playing against and Jeremy Vernon. Wichita State is led big dance. With Swanigan setting the beyond the arc this season.

OREGON WEST VIRGINIA FLORIDA
Oregon can flat out score Over the years, West Florida played a tough
the basketball. The Ducks Virginia has earned the nonconference schedule this
have averaged 79.2 points per nickname “Press Virginia” for season, facing off against
game this season and have their attacking defense that and losing to Gonzaga, Duke
outscored their opponents by forces boatloads of turnovers and Florida State before the
14.5 points per game. and gets opposing teams out calendar turned to 2017.
Contrary to what the of their offensive comfort While the Gators suffered
Oregon brand conjures up, zone. losses in those close contests,
they don’t actually play that The 2016-17 Mountaineers the experience they gained
fast. Instead, they create an have lived up to that helped them build a
efficient offense by taking nickname. West Virginia dominant basketball team.
care of the basketball and rim. In the regular season, forced opponents to commit points per game, while no Florida finished the regular quickly on the offense end,
shooting a lot of threes. the team averaged 6.8 blocks 21.2 turnovers per game player averages more than season with a 24-7 record. then make their opponent
The Ducks shot 38.2 per game. North Carolina’s in the regular season. 13. That depth will come in Florida has played stellar work for every shot on the
percent from deep in the guards won’t be able to rely North Carolina is a veteran handy throughout March defense, holding opponents defensive side of the floor.
regular season and aren’t on easy baskets when trying ballclub that has seen a lot, Madness. to just 66.4 points per game North Carolina will have to be
afraid to shoot if they get an to attack the paint. but even UNC will have to But UNC may be able in the regular season. It ready to grind out possessions
open look. North Carolina UNC’s advantage on the recalibrate and focus to beat to exploit an edge on the is hard to take and make if the two teams face off.
will have to stick to Oregon’s boards could be the difference the Mountaineers’ aggressive boards in this matchup. threes against the Gators. Getting to the free-throw
best shooters and hope it in a potential matchup scheme. West Virginia allows a lot Opponents shot just 30.2 line is also a strength of this
catches them on an off day. between these two teams. The West Virginia is also very of offensive rebounds — percent from beyond the arc team. Florida made 17.5
Oregon also does an Ducks grab only 36.5 boards balanced on offense. Five opponents grabbed 346 in the in the regular season. free throws per game in the
excellent job protecting the per game on average. players average over nine regular season. The Gators also play regular season.

Zone defenses still pose problem for North Carolina
UNC struggled But over the course of
the year, the Tar Heels have
zone defenses.
“Theo’s a great passer,”
rebounds. UNC also moved
well without the ball, setting
against the zone in improved in one key aspect of
beating zone defenses.
Luke Maye said after UNC’s
85-67 win over Pittsburgh.
off-ball screens and testing
the attentiveness of Panther
ACC play this season. “Well, we shoot the ball “He’s got an uncanny eye defenders.
better from the 3-point line,” for seeing open men. You’ve North Carolina wasn’t
By John Bauman head coach Roy Williams always got to be on your toes bad on the offensive boards
Assistant Sports Editor said. “That’s the biggest when Theo’s got the ball, against Georgia Tech, though.
thing.” because you never know when The team finished with 44
The North Carolina bas- North Carolina’s long- it’s going to come.” total rebounds, including 19
ketball team’s first conference range bombers, Joel Berry In that Pittsburgh game, on the offensive glass.
loss left the team flummoxed. and Jackson, have proved North Carolina melted the At the end of the day, beat-
The Tar Heels shot poorly valuable in busting zone Panthers’ zone defense so ing zone defenses really comes
from the field in their 75-63 defenses this season. Both are badly that they switched down to hitting shots. The
loss to Georgia Tech, making excellent shooters who stretch back to a man-to-man align- Tar Heels can’t afford a cold
24 out of 72 shots. Their 33.3 defenses, in turn, opening up ment in the second half. That shooting day like they suffered
percent field goal percentage the paint for drives and inside first half was an example of against Georgia Tech. Instead
ended up being the lowest of looks. UNC at its best against zone of leading to a first conference
the season. UNC also took 26 While shooting helps, UNC defenses: the Tar Heels shot loss, it could be a season-end-
3-pointers and made just five hasn’t put all of its eggs in one well but also moved the ball ing misstep in March. DTH FILE/ROBERT GOURLEY
of them. basket to beat zones. A season and dominated on the boards @bauman_john North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks (4) shoots over a Syracuse
It was all thanks to a 1-3-1 ago, Brice Johnson’s eight with 11 first-half offensive sports@dailytarheel.com defender. Syracuse is known for running a zone defense.
zone. assists against Syracuse’s
“Against that type of zone, zone in the Tar Heels’ Jan. 9

Go Heels!
you have to have some type road win disassembled that
of penetration, or you’ve got defense.
to have ball movement; you
can’t just pass it one time
and be able to get it in the
“We don’t pass it inside
nearly as well as we did last
year,” Williams said. “Brice’s
YOU
YOUR R HOM
HOME E IN
IN
middle,” Justin Jackson said
on Dec. 31 after the loss. “And
so we were kind of stagnant
passing inside against the
zone at Syracuse was as good
as I’ve ever had any big man.”
T
THE
HE HE
HEA ART
RT OF
OF
as far as the guards out there,
and so it didn’t really open
Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy
Meeks are good passers, but CH
CHAAPE
PELL HIL
HILLL
up the inside as much as it they’ll never be great ones.
should have.” Instead, Theo Pinson has
That first game in confer- helped shoulder the load.
ence play was a bellwether Pinson missed five conference On-site Dining,
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10 Thursday, March 9, 2017 March Madness Preview 2017 The Daily Tar Heel

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN ACC TOURNAMENT
Great players win games
in March. While the regular
season is all about building
ACC Tournament, which is
being played at the Barclays
Center in Brooklyn from
Joel Berry II Luke Kennard
depth, gaining experience March 7 to 11. After N.C. State fell Luke Kennard tests the
and hopefully picking up Many of these players to Clemson in the ACC North Carolina defense
more than a few wins, March have already been recognized Tournament’s first round unlike almost any other
Madness is for the superstars. by the ACC for their strong on Tuesday, North Carolina player the team will face,
Because of the intense regular seasons. Duke’s Luke arguably has the best point mainly because he is so
nature of tournament games, Kennard, Wake Forest’s guard left in junior Joel Berry. deadly beyond the arc.
the best players on a team rise John Collins, Notre Dame’s While he hasn’t gotten much The sophomore guard
to the top. Coaches don’t like Bonzie Colson and Louisville’s attention late in the season — who was unanimously
hero ball during the regular Donovan Mitchell were all thanks to the emergence of selected to the All-ACC First
season, but if it works in the represented on the 2016-17 his teammate Justin Jackson, Team — is the top scorer
postseason, it works. The only All-ACC first team. The last Berry’s performance is pretty in the conference. North
objective is advancing to the player on the team was North indicative of how the Tar Heels Carolina felt the burn of his
next round, no matter who Carolina’s Justin Jackson. will play in any given game. offensive repertoire in its loss
is scoring the baskets or how They’d all exchange those In UNC’s wins where to Duke on Feb. 9, where
many shots it takes. awards for a conference title. Berry has played, he’s shot just 33.3 percent from Kennard totaled 20 points. Kennard’s 28-point game in
These eight players are Compiled by assistant knocking down 48.5 percent the field and 28 percent Defending the deep ball Saturday’s win, someone must
among the best on their sports editors John Bauman, of his field goals and 46.1 from beyond the arc. has been a weak spot for UNC crack down on guarding him
respective teams and all have Blake Richardson and Jeremy percent of his 3-pointers. Where Berry goes, so does all season. While the Tar in tournament play.
the ability to take over the Vernon. In the Tar Heels’ losses, he’s UNC. Heels were able to overcome UNC won’t get lucky twice.

London Perrantes Bonzie Colson Donovan Mitchell
Virginia’s senior guard and Like North Carolina, Notre Louisville’s Donovan
leader adds an additional Dame has a variety of weap- Mitchell is one of the players
punch to facing the Cavaliers’ ons in its arsenal. But junior listed that UNC is most likely
pack-line defense. forward Bonzie Colson is to face, and the sophomore
London Perrantes, an arguably the most dangerous. guard would give the Tar
ACC Preseason Player of the The All-ACC First Team Heels plenty of trouble.
Year candidate and All-ACC selection averages a double- The All-ACC First Team
Second Team selection, has double (17 points, 10.4 selection poses a threat on
found scoring success in both rebounds). He will likely pose both sides of the ball, leading
of North Carolina’s matchups an interesting clash with the his team in scoring (15.9
with Virginia, scoring 12 Tar Heel big men, who have points per game) and averages
points when UNC beat the dominated the glass so far more steals (2.13) than anyone
Cavaliers on Feb. 18 and Still, when UNC defeated in the conference.
totaling 13 in the Tar Heels’ Notre Dame, Colson was When the Tar Heels
loss on Feb. 27. To beat Virginia, UNC only the team’s third-leading ACC title on the line. But defeated the Cardinals 74-63 If UNC wants to succeed in
He leads Virginia in scoring must overcome the pack-line scorer, with 17 points. even more daunting than on Feb. 22, they had no the tournament, it will need
with 12.8 points per game — defense and limit scoring. If the Tar Heels face Colson Colson will be the depth solution for Mitchell, who to find a way to slow down
impressive for a school that Containing Perrantes again, he will likely be an of the Fighting Irish that scored 21 points and grabbed Mitchell. He is too potent to
focuses on slow-paced play. essentially solves the latter. even greater force with an surround him. four rebounds. leave unchecked.

Dwayne Bacon Tyler Lydon Seth Allen
With a game as good as his North Carolina has Seth Allen, a red-
name, Florida State sopho- had troubles matching up shirt senior guard from
more guard Dwayne Bacon with stretch fours in the Woodbridge, Va., averaged
led the Seminoles in scoring past. Isaiah Hicks does his 13.1 points and 2.3 rebounds
in the regular season, rack- best, but his best defensive per game in the regular sea-
ing up 16.9 points per game moments don’t come running son.
on the way to earning second around the perimeter, chasing He ran away with the ACC
team All-ACC honors. a dangerous 3-point shooter. Sixth Man of the Year award
Bacon has played UNC Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon fits and was also named All-ACC
twice in his two seasons at the mold of a stretch four. honorable mention for his
Florida State, tallying 18 Lydon shot 113 3-pointers role in leading Virginia Tech
points on both occasions. in the regular season. He to a 10-8 record in conference
That said, the Seminoles converted on 41.6 percent of play.
weren’t able to beat the Tar those attempts, an impressive He made his mark on
Heels either time. And if the sophomore is up mark for a 6-foot-8 forward. sive rebounds. the season by dominating He also shot 72.8 percent
Bacon and the rest of his to his old tricks, the Tar Heels Lydon also rebounds the Lydon also does a good job from beyond the arc. Allen from the free-throw line,
teammates will look to avenge will be hard pressed to stop basketball well. He averaged protecting the rim, blocking knocked down an incredible making 59 of his 81 attempts
both losses in a potential title- him and Florida State from a team-high 8.3 boards per a team-high 43 shots in the 46.5 percent of his threes in in the Hokies’ 30 game regu-
game matchup with UNC. scoring at will. game and hauled in 67 offen- regular season. the regular season. lar season.

By the numbers: North Carolina’s 2016-17 season
31 1,000 18 3.92
LBP C
UNC won its 31st ACC regular
season title, an ACC record.
Four players hit the 1,000
career point mark this season.
UNC averages 18 assists per
game, fourth in the country.
Theo Pinson’s assist-turnover
ratio this season.

2017
16
The Tar Heels were a perfect
85
Justin Jackson made 85 threes
42
The Tar Heels rebound 42 per-
26
UNC is the ACC Tournament
16-0 at home in 2016-17. this season, 10 off the UNC cent of their missed shots. No. 1 seed for the 26th time.
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The Daily Tar Heel March Madness Preview 2017 Thursday, March 9, 2017 11

10 teams to watch in the ACC Tournament
The ACC is notoriously on the line, these powerhouse
the toughest conference
in the nation. That is even
teams will clash for a few
fleeting days of elite confer-
North Carolina 26-6, 14-4 ACC
more true this season — 10 ence basketball.
or even 11 teams could earn Here is a rundown of the North Carolina is the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament for a reason. The team leads the
a bid to play in the NCAA top 10 teams in the confer- conference in scoring offense, scoring margin, assists and rebounds. The team’s quick play
Tournament come Selection ence, some of whom UNC style can be stifling to take on, especially when UNC is playing at the top of its game.
Sunday. will spar with in its quest to But the Tar Heels have been plagued with inconsistency. They have been able to dodge
The ACC’s status as the earn a second straight ACC this issue for the most part with their depth, but this is tournament play in the toughest
top dog in the country was Tournament title to match conference in the nation. Inconsistency could be a killer.
evident in last year’s NCAA its two outright ACC regular- UNC struggles in other areas as well. Namely, the Tar Heels could come into problems
Tournament, too. In 2016, season titles. with turnovers (they average 12 per game), and a lackluster defense beyond the arc could
four Elite Eight teams Compiled by Assistant come back to haunt them. The ACC is full of shooters who can become dangerous if left
and two in the Final Four Sports Editors John Bauman, unchecked. And in the ACC Tournament, UNC will face teams playing at the top of their
belonged to the ACC. Blake Richardson and Jeremy game.
With NCAA bids and seeds Vernon Any weak spot in the Tar Heel defense could become deadly down the stretch.

Florida State 24-7, 12-6 ACC Notre Dame 23-8, 12-6 ACC Louisville 24-7, 12-6 ACC
Florida State went Notre Dame scored Louisville dominated
24-7 in the regular 78.5 points per game in a difficult nonconference
season, including a 12-6 the regular season, mixing schedule with a 12-1 record,
conference record to earn together 3-pointers, but ACC play proved to be
the No. 2 seed in the ACC free throws and efficient tougher — the Cardinals
Tournament. The Seminoles offensive attempts to create finished with a 12-6 record
are led by Dwayne Bacon an unquestionably potent in conference. That record
on offense. He averaged offense. was still good enough to
16.9 points and shot 36.5 The team went 23-8 in help Louisville earn the
percent from the 3-point the regular season, including No. 4 seed in the 2017 ACC
line in the regular season. a 12-6 record in conference Tournament, though.
Jonathan Isaac is another play. The Fighting Irish went The Cardinals made 7.2
player to keep an eye on. 7-2 at home in ACC play but 3-pointers per game in the
The standout first-year and potential NBA lottery pick struggled on the road with a 5-4 record. They earned the regular season, shooting 36.4 percent on attempts from
averages double digits for Florida State (12.2 points per No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament. beyond the arc. This could be a sore spot in a matchup
game) while also grabbing 7.2 rebounds per game to pose a The Irish have four players who average more than 13 against UNC, as the Tar Heels struggle with 3-point
potent double threat. points per game, but don’t have much depth outside of that. defense.
The Seminoles averaged 83 points per game in the This gives UNC an advantage, especially in tournament play. Donovan Mitchell is the team’s best player. He averaged
regular season. Their up-tempo, explosive offense will If a matchup with Notre Dame comes down to the wire, 15.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in the regular
challenge opponents in the ACC Tournament. North Carolina will benefit. season. He also had a team-high 66 steals.

Duke 24-8, 11-7 ACC Virginia 21-9, 11-7 ACC Virginia Tech 21-9, 10-8 ACC
Duke began the 2016-17 Virginia finished the Virginia Tech finished
college basketball season regular season with a 21-9 the regular season with
faced with high expectations record. The Cavaliers play a 21-9 record and earned
and has struggled to live tough, slow and deliber- the No. 7 seed in the ACC
up to them. An early loss to ately — exactly how head Tournament, being played
Kansas on Nov. 15 ended the coach Tony Bennett would in Brooklyn from March 7
Blue Devil’s bid for a perfect like them to. However, they to 11.
season just three games into struggled to find wins in a The Hokies are led on
the schedule. tough ACC schedule and offense by guard Seth
The team went finished with an 11-7 record Allen, who averaged 13.1
undefeated in the rest of and a No. 6 seed in the ACC points per game in the
nonconference play, cruising Tournament. regular season. Allen is
through a soft schedule. The Cavaliers held oppo- an incredible shooter. His
Conference play began on New Year’s Eve with a loss to nents to 54.9 points per game in the regular season. They 46.5 percent 3-point shooting percentage on 101 attempts
Virginia Tech by a final score of 89-75. also forced 13.1 turnovers per game while playing at a slow was nothing short of remarkable. Zach LeDay also leads
The Blue Devils’ struggles continued throughout tempo that limited possessions for both teams. the Hokie offense, averaging 15.6 points per game and
conference play. They finished the season with an 11-7 The team also took care of the ball on offense, earning contributing 7.1 rebounds per game.
conference record and earned the No. 5 seed in the ACC a 1.5 assist to turnover ratio in the regular season. It’s not Virginia Tech also shot over 40 percent from beyond the
Tournament. But against UNC, the result of a matchup is Coach Bennett’s best team, but the Cavaliers are always arc as a team in the 2016-17 season. That type of shooting
always unpredictable. dangerous and difficult to play in March. is always dangerous in March.

Miami 21-10, 10-8 ACC Wake Forest 19-12, 9-9 ACC Pittsburgh 16-16, 4-14 ACC
North Carolina’s loss to Wake Forest’s season Pittsburgh averaged
Miami on Jan. 28 is part hinged on a March 1 game 73.5 points per game
of an impressive resume of against Louisville. The in the 2016-17 regular
Hurricanes wins —including Cardinals came in as one of season — not a bad mark
a win over Duke and a win at the top-ranked teams in the for a team with a difficult
Virginia in overtime. ACC the country, and Wake conference schedule and
UNC will need to contain Forest needed a marquee thin roster. The problem
Bruce Brown, who totaled win to boost its NCAA was that the team allowed
a game-leading 30 points Tournament resume. opponents to score 75.2
against the Tar Heels. But The Demon Deacons points per game, giving
the battle can be won with were down one at the half the Panthers a negative 1.6
rebounding. North Carolina but exploded in the second point differential during the
ranks first in the conference with 46 points to win 88-81. regular season.
in rebounding, while Miami is giving up the third fewest It was Wake Forest’s best win of the season. The team struggled against ACC opponents. After an
rebounds to opponents of any ACC team this season. Wake Forest consistently didn’t play that well overtime win against Virginia on Jan. 4, the Panthers lost
The Tar Heels could torch Miami with scoring, since the throughout the season and ended up with the No. 10 their next eight conference games.
Hurricanes only average 70.2 a game — the third fewest in seed in the ACC Tournament. They are still on the NCAA They rallied, slightly, over the second half of the season
the conference. North Carolina was inconsistent offensively Tournament bubble and need a few more performances to finish with a 4-14 conference record, with the lone road
in the first matchup. If UNC wants a shot at an ACC like how they played against the Cardinals to secure a place win coming at Boston College. Pittsburgh has dangerous
Tournament title, that cannot happen again. in the Big Dance. scorers, but it might not be enough.
12 Thursday, March 6, 2017 March Madness Preview 2017 The Daily Tar Heel

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