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A Blast from the Past

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I've had this article stashed in the RSS feed since UNC was undefeated. In it, Anthony Macri speculates who and how any team could beat the then seemingly-invincible Heels. His prescription, don't turn the ball over and hit the offensive boards, was good advice but not really the method by which the four teams who beat Carolina managed it. That was mostly accomplished by disrupting the Heels' three-point shooting and keeping them from getting offensive rebounds (a point Marci makes). In fact, UNC improved as a team in ACC lay when they stopped overemphasizing steals and defensive rebounds in favor of a more balanced defense.

What's truly interesting though is the three teams Marci predicts would have the most success at disrupting UNC:

  • Duke - Balanced scoring and just enough shooting ability to get beyond the fact that no Blue Devil frontcourt player really belongs on the same court as the Tar Heels. They defend the heck out of the ball, and I would expect them to draw a lot of offensive fouls against UNC. The big questions will be whether they can really control their turnovers against the Heels and if their "rebound-by-committee" approach be good enough.
  • Gonzaga - Excluding Jeremy Pargo's meltdown against Connecticut in the final few minutes, he can take care of the ball more than well enough against UNC's defense. The Bulldogs have depth at every position, and a frontcourt that can bring out some of the Tar Heels' flaws. Before the season, they were my pick to be a team that could beat Carolina, and they still rank in that category, though, like Georgetown, they have some questions in the rebounding department.
  • Oklahoma - Power player inside that can handle his business? Check (Blake Griffin). Smooth-scoring wing? Check (Willie Warren). Underrated lead guard that doesn't turn the ball over? Check (Austin Johnson). Experienced enough to beat the Heels? Maybe not… but they could. The pieces are there, and the Sooners would really battle UNC on the boards.

Three teams uniquely designed to beat Carolina, and the Heels had the misfortune of having games against all three. Games they promptly won by margins of 14, 8, 21, and 12 points. None were even close in the last eight minutes or so.

Impressive, no?