This is the second in a two part series analyzing the best and worst case scenarios for the upcoming fall and winter.
Here is the good news: the patently pessimistic prognostication of yesterday is giving way to an overly optimistic view of the world today. Also, everyone can take comfort knowing that the scenarios detailed below are far more likely to occur than what was published in Part 1.
There is no way that UNC would lose to NC State in football and Duke win the National Championship in basketball in the same season. Again (2014-15). Karma cannot be that mean, unlike Kentucky fans asking “Maye I have another?” Please keep in mind the three rules from Part 1, and please don’t hate me as much as you did yesterday. With that in mind, away we march toward the Awesome Autumn.
Although UNC’s offense will be completely different this season, the recruiting has been strong and there is plenty of reason to believe in Brandon Harris. The same system that turned a good prospect in Mitch Trubisky into the second overall pick in the draft can also help bring Harris along.
Most importantly, the first game against Cal is winnable and played at home. Sports writers who cover college football have long raved about the “every game matters” element to the game. This is arguably less true now in the era of the playoff but is certainly the case for anyone playing in the Coastal division, given the lack of regular marquee games.
[As an aside, the whole concept of “every game matters” jumped the shark for me in 2011 with the “Game of the Century.” On November 5, 2011, no. 1 LSU played no. 2 Alabama in a regular season matchup. LSU won the game but the outcome really did not matter since they played again for the national championship with Alabama winning. If “The Game of the Century” just led to a mulligan, then how can every game matter?]
After winning the season opener for the first time in three years, a Louisville team in transition will lay an egg and the Heels will be off to a fast start. Louisville will quickly regroup and run the table, which means the home win in week two will be a huge resume builder.
The streak will run to Blacksburg on October 21. Even the loyal light blue-hearted patriot in me can not see wins at both Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh (November 9th). Nonetheless, win one of those and take care of business against NC State and all of a sudden the path to the ACC championship is clear. From there, every additional win is gravy. Eleven regular season wins looks pretty sweet.
As the unexpectedly successful football campaign winds to a close, the hardcourt Heels will start reeling off wins of their own. Senior leadership, especially at the guard positions, can cover for a lot of early season shortcomings. By January, Joel Berry II will be creeping up Player of the Year lists and the non-starting big man (Garrison Brooks, Luke Maye, or Cameron Johnson) will be the leading contender for 6th Man of the Year. This team will be scoring points at a rate unheard of for major college basketball teams with non-gimmick offenses.
Sure, there will be some off-shooting nights where the rebounding just can’t keep up. No one is ever going undefeated again. Especially not in the best basketball conference in the country. I have said it before, a no. 1 seeded Tar Heels team equals a National Player of the Year. One other note: Kenny Williams and Luke Maye could have another year left, along with a great recruiting class, to go to four straight final fours.
Kansas is going to lose the 10-team Big 12 to Texas for the first time since Moby Dick was a minnow. Dook is going to do what Dook normally does with a talented incoming class, which is spend more time looking for excuses than winning. UCLA is going to hold a moment of silence at the start of the season, just so they can remember that silence is the absence of team-distracting noise.
UNC will be winning. Again.