This should tide you over for a bit.
First of all, the picks.
J.P. Giglio is going with a Duke-UNC finish at the top. Robbi Pickeral is swapping those two. What goes on below the UNC-Duke blood bath is anyone's guess and even Giglio admits that this could be a repeat of 1995 giving us a four way tie or even 2007 when UNC grabbed the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament with 11 wins but five teams within one game of that. In short, everyone has deficiencies which will lead to an inexplicable loss here or there in addition to ones you would expect them to lose.
Point is this race will be closer than close. So what separates 11-5 from 9-7? Coaching. Experience. Outside shooting. Motivation. The schedule. Talent.
The Heels have the coaching and talent in spades and the schedule can't be that bad because UNC can't play UNC.
Experience? Only forward Deon Thompson and wing Marcus Ginyard have more than two college starts.
Outside shooting? Point guard Larry Drew II, shooting guard Dexter Strickland and Ginyard are not Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. That's not a knock, it's just fact. The current group has a different skill set.
And while Roy Williams' fast-break offense is not predicated on the 3-pointer, Lawson (51), Green (77) and Ellington (85) combined to make 213 3s last season. No other ACC team had three players make 50 or more 3s.
Motivation? This is a biggie. How many times did Williams mention Sports Illustrated (or the AP) didn't rank UNC in the preseason top 25? Or that UNC was picked sixth in the conference? Ol' Roy burned that respect card into the ground, then lit the ashes on fire to stoke that post-title team to the tilt.
This post-title team will go off in the top-5 nationally and as the preseason favorite. That's the main difference between this team and that overachieving '06 team. And that, my friends, is the difference between going 12-4, and striving to prove the world wrong, and settling in comfortably at 10-6.
The point is well taken. If UNC cannot find the perimeter shooting then it could cripple them. Three pointers are daggers in the heart of an opposing team and UNC in 2008 and 2009 often found a way to mercilessly stick a knife in another team to close the deal. Without that UNC because frontcourt heavy and a good zone will hurt them tremendously. Giglio does not bring up defense which I think will be better for UNC. Ed Davis is going to guard the basket and by all accounts Leslie McDonald, Larry Drew and Marcus Ginyard all can play solid defense. John Henson has so much length Jay Bilas is right now searching for a new word to describe it. You also have Tyler Zeller being seven feet tall and hopefully learning to use that to alter shots even if he cannot outmuscle opposing players. I think the Heels will be a better defensive team which could mitigate some of the offensive shortcomings. You still have to score points though because if playing great defense was all you needed, Big Ten teams would win more national titles than they presently do. In terms of motivation, I ain't buying the idea this team is going to be complacent. Roy will have the freshman playing motivated basketball and I personally think Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard fully intend to assume ownership of this team and lead them in the right direction.
ACC Now delves more into what UNC is looking at this season. It basically boils down to: Frontcourt: Great! Backcourt: Unknown. Perimeter shooting: Unknown. Also quoted is Dave Telep who goes as far as to call John Henson possibly one of three best players ever recruiting by Roy Williams. I hope like heck he plays that way from day one.