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Picking NITs

A brief look at UNC's three potential opponents in New York:

Gonzaga (4-0)

The Bulldogs got here with by working through the private schools of Texas, with wins over Rice (88-50) and Baylor (78-69). A Sweet Sixteen team last year, they're making do without two members of last year's starting five - unfortunately for them, one of those is Adam Morrison. The team that remains is much more balanced, but is led by Josh Heytvelt (17.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) who's come from nowhere this year to lead the team at power forward. The team is not particularly deep or big, outside of Heytvelt, but are quick enough to run with the Heels.

Butler (4-0)

The other Bulldogs came to New York by way of Indiana, beating Notre Dame (71-69) and Indiana (60-55). They had the smallest margin of victory among the four teams, but shouldn't be overlooked. They have a vicious backcourt in returning starter A.J. Graves and Towson transfer Mike Green. They're the smallest team on the floor, and probably won't be able to continue their Cinderella run against Tennessee.

Tennessee (4-0)

The Volunteers had the easiest trip to New York, beatin Fordham (78-71) and UNC-Wilmington (87-75), and will most likely be UNC's Thursday opponent. They're the other NCAA tournament team in the bracket, who like the Heels were denied a Sweet 16 spot in the East bracket when they were knocked off by a mid-major. The Vols return three starters, the most important being the backcourt tandem of Chris Lofton (18 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and JaJaun Smith (13.5 ppg 4.3 rpg). Their frontcourt are freshman, but they're a deep team thyat can throw a lot of bodies at the Heels down low if need be. If we could get his head out of football, Joel at Rocky Top Talk could tell you more. Don't these SEC folks know football is over?

UNC is the prohibitive favorite this week - not a surprise when you put the number two team in the nation against a couple of folks ranked in the 20's and unranked Butler, but it's still early in the season, and a young team can be easily tripped up - just ask Duke. I'd still be pretty surpised if North Carolina didn't end the week undefeated.