The Tar Heels fell just short of winning the national title however the season can still be called a unqualified success. UNC won the ACC regular season and tournament titles, played some of its best basketball in March and April but faced a Villanova team that was just little bit better. That shouldn't make UNC season any less impressive than it was, especially as you dig into the numbers.
According to KenPom, UNC finished with an adjusted offensive efficiency of 124.1 breaking the 100 mark in every game except one, the loss at Louisville. UNC's rating is the highest ever for a Roy Williams team at UNC and tied for 2nd best since KenPom began publishing these metrics in 2002.
What might be the most remarkable part of UNC's offensive efficiency is how the Tar Heels did it. The general premise of offensive efficiency is points per possession and the rating given is the number of points per 100 possessions. The easiest path to a higher efficiency is consistency. If you score on every possession. The other method is to hit three point shots which raises your points per possession by getting three points versus two(or one) on the offensive trip down the court. Looking at teams in KenPom that have topped 120, the three point shot plays a factor in them achieving that number. Even teams that operate with a lower 3PA% like UNC does still managed to be solid shooting teams form outside.
Looking at the 3PA% and 3P%, UNC's 2016 teams sticks out like a sore thumb. Not only did UNC not take many threes but didn't hit a high percentage of them as a team. There have been other teams with comparable or lower 3PA% like 2008 UNC which was at 22.6, 2012 Kentucky at 26.4, 2009 UNC 27.2 or 2007 Florida at 27.9. The difference between UNC this season and those teams is they all hit a respectable percentage as a team from the perimeter. UNC didn't do that and still managed to have on of the best offensive efficiency seasons in the history of KenPom rankings.
Another element of this is tempo. Generally speaking it is easier to be more efficient the lower the tempo since it means needing to score on fewer possessions. UNC is one of the few programs that can both play fast and play efficiently. 2016 was another example of this with UNC averaging over 71 possessions per game but being highly efficient in doing so.
Ultimately, UNC's offensive success was based on two elements. The first was getting the ball into dominant interior players who could consistently take and make high percentage shots. Secondly, was pushing the tempo both for transition baskets(which should be easier unless you get fouled and it's not calle. Hey it's only been two days so I am still bitter). and more possessions for those easy baskets to occur. UNC only needed the three point shooting to keep teams honest defensively and for the most part that appeared to work.
Some other stat notes from the season:
-In the final KenPom rankings, UNC was appropriately 2nd overall with the top ranked offensive efficiency and the 27th ranked defensive efficiency. UNC's adjusted defensive efficiency was 95.6 which is actually the 2nd worst of the Williams era however it was still good enough for top 30 in the nation. UNC's 95.4 in 2014 was 21st overall while the 96.0 from last season ended up 51st. The 2011 Tar Heels still hold the top spot among UNC teams in defensive efficiency at 90.4 which was ranked 4th. What a difference a shot blocker makes.
-UNC's turnover rate was 15.4 which was the best ever for a Tar Heel team under Roy Williams. 2012's 16.4 was next on the list. Having two point guards on the court in the form of Joel Berry and Marcus Paige was obviously a factor in that number as was Berry's personal TO% of 14.8. Only Ty Lawson in 2009 was better at taking care of the ball among Williams era point guards than Berry was this season.
-UNC cracked 40% in offensive rebounding rate for the fourth time under Roy Williams and for a second straight season. UNC's rate was 40.7 this season after 40.0 in 2015. The top two rates are 2008 at 42.4 and 2006 at 41.6.
-Regarding three point shooting, UNC's 32.7 3P% was a Williams era low just behind 2010 and 2011 which both shot 32.8%. UNC also gave up a Williams era worst 36.5% from three on the defensive end a year removed from holding teams to 30.0%.
In terms of 3PA%, UNC held teams to 35.6 which was 183rd overall and pretty consistent with what Roy Williams' teams tend to do in defending the three point shot.
-UNC shot 74.7% as a team at the free throw line led by Joel Berry's 86.8%. UNC had five players top 75% in free throw shooting: Berry, Brice Johnson(78.3), Marcus Paige(77.9), Isaiah Hicks(75.6) and Nate Britt(80.0). The last time UNC had at least four players shooting 75% or better from the free throw line was 2008 and 2009.
-Four different Tar Heels ended the season with an offensive rating of 120 or better with Justin Jackson at 119.0. Johnson led the way with a rating of 126.8, followed by Hicks(123.2), Berry(122.2) and Paige(120.2). The only other Williams team to have at least four players top 120 on offensive rating was 2009.
Field goal%: Johnson and Hicks - 61.4%
3P%: Berry - 38.2%
FT%: Berry - 86.8%
DRB%: Johnson - 28.5
ORB%: Meeks - 13.5
BLK%: Johnson - 5.5
STL%: Berry - 2.7
ARate: Pinson - 22.2
TO%: Berry - 14.8