So what does a win in Cameron and a number one ranking get a team nowadays? In Carolina's case, a Friday game at noon against either Wake Forest or Florida State, two teams that have appeared dangerous at times this season, but ultimately have Wolfpack-quality offenses. All in all, a better deal than Duke's potential opponents, with their similar records but much more potent offenses, and a fact that bodes well for a UNC team that hasn't been beaten with defense as much as by good-shooting teams.
Last year's trend in the ACC of poor offensve rebounding has, UNC excluded, only worsened. That aside, there weren't many differences on offense. FSU obviously misses Al Thorton in a way that was apparent in the nonconference season, while Clemson's offensive surge appears to be solely a matter of pulling the ball down off the glass more often. It'll be interesting to see if more teams follow their lead next season, especially since the other road to offensive success (Duke's) seems significantly more difficult to replicate.
For all the ink that's been spilled about Duke's vaunted defense, for the last four years the they've allowed in conference an identical 0.99 points per possession. And for four straight years, UNC has outperformed that mark. Of course, each year they manage it with a different defensive scheme - in '05 and '06 it was with excellent shooting defense, '07 was impressive defensive rebounding, and this year they made do with an incredible rate of turnover generation.
If you're looking for teams that could go surprisingly far in the tournament, like N.C. State in 2005 and 2007, and Wake Forest in 2006, I'd look to the teams with poor defense and a high three-point percentage - different teams have different reactions out of the gate in Charlotte, and a hot shooting team can overcome poor defense if the other team goes cold. This year, those teams are, again N.C. State (with a 39.7% three-point percentage and the league-worst defense) and Boston College, shooting 38%. I'd look to the Eagles and Tyrese Rice this year to make it to the semis. Which almost guarantees an outsized Wolfpack performance, knowing my track record.