Blog Entry

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

Posted on: March 5, 2011 10:57 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 11:21 pm

Posted by Matt Norlander

Anybody hotter than North Carolina? Nope.

The 24-6, 13th-ranked Tar Heels are no longer hiding, no longer lurking, no longer considered a dark horse in any sense of the term. Roy Williams' team won the ACC tonight — something thought to be impossible what, three, four, five weeks ago? — with an 81-67 win over No. 4 Duke. It was the seventh straight win for a team that finished 14-2 in-conference. Once again, North Carolina is nationally recognized as a team with Final Four caliber, NBA talent and a dangerous MO.

It was like this two years ago, when, you know, the Heels won the national title. Can't believe it's only been two years? That's how bad the 2009-10 season was for UNC, when it went to the NIT finals.

Tonight, CBS got a game with a lot of intensity, but not a lot of doubt. In fact, the most questionable thing about anyone wearing baby blue: UNC fans storming the floor afterward. What was that about?

Digressing. Let's move on.

Carolina winning the ACC is all too interesting because many gave up once UNC it had really close wins against Virginia and Virginia Tech, then culminated that dangerous play with a 78-58 loss at Georgia Tech on Jan. 16.

It was UNC's first loss in the conference. Many overreacted. That happens with regularity now. Fortunately, the college basketball season lends itself to many chances and a longer road for teams to prove themselves. In that context, UNC no longer has anything to prove to anyone.

But here comes conference and Big Dance tournament play, and that's an entirely different universe.

The Heels can get a two seed (it will get a three at worst) if they wins the ACC tournament. That's going to be tough, sure, but it's definitely doable. Now, going forward, the conversation and focus will turn to how UNC will play with everyone expecting it to do well. Now reaching the Sweet 16 is considered the minimum. For so long, this was a group fighting against its critics. Now it's got cheerleaders. Loads of them.

Harrison Barnes (love the Barnesbot meme that's developed, for the record) has swelled with confidence and a jump shot that won't quit. That's as much of it as Kendall Marshall's play, and the terrific defense, and the ability for Carolina to run a secondary break that's improved as the months have gone by. Fun team, and nobody's looking past it.

A lingering, final thought. The way UNC has come back to play at the expectation level many had for it in the preseason — it's sort of like UConn. Only UConn started high and gradually came back to its anticipated landing spot. UNC's now taken off.

Photo: AP

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Since: Jan 26, 2010
Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:58 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

There's one thing that some folks are missing ... UNC isn't being praised because people are looking at RPI and stats ... they are being praised because people have watched them play in the last few games.They are doing what I like to see ... ripping down rebounds, shooting very well, Marshall is fast and deadly, and they're running the floor like crazy ... that makes a good team. The stats can't really be used (although I hope everyone else in my pool uses them), since this team didn't exist until very recently. Just watch them, then decide.

Since: Feb 27, 2011
Posted on: March 7, 2011 2:44 pm

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

We will see about that in the Tourney. I will enjoy watching Jimmer go 10-35 or some crazy shooting performance because he has no one else who can score.

Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:09 pm

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

The MWC is tougher than the ACC. 2-2 vs the Top 25 does not a 2 seed make.

Since: Feb 27, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2011 11:10 pm

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

Great win by the Heels and I agree with all those who thank Drew2 for quitting. The Heels are a tough matchup and I think with the right matchups can be final 4 bound but need the right matchups. It will be interesting to see of the trend from the last couple of years continues- the tourney has become a coach's tourney. Talent ruled late 90's early decade. With the 1 and done rule, good coaching can confuse the freshmen phenoms. That helps Uncle Roy. I would say, The our Heels are young, if Zeller could (and should) be pursuaded to stay, next year will be our year. He can pack on some more muscle and add to his frame. McAdoo coming in, Henson maturing my a year, Barnes and Marshall sophmores, Strickland can work on his outside game instead of worrying about back-up point, and McDonald can continue to come of age. I am so proud to be a Tarheel fan this year.

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2011 11:53 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

What irony if UNC gets a "II" seed. Can't thank Larry Sr enough for pulling his boy out of Carolina. That act alone lifted the constraints off Roy and the team enabling them to run the "System" that has been successful for over 50 years. Sure has been fun to watch again since Drew II's departure and UNC not only will make the tourney this year but has a chance of winning it. What a mid season turnaround!!! Thanks again Larry Sr.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2011 11:47 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

the Heels beat Kentucky and lost by one to Texas; the more apt question would be who has Duke beat? the Devil's SOS is abysmal (31), UNC's respectable (15); by the way, the Big East is overvalued, a bunch of ranked teams beat each other, therefor helping their rankings . . . only the final rankings matter (NCAA championships: owned by the ACC the last two years; 5 champs in the last 10 years, Big East only has 2 in the same time period)

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:06 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

UNC is 2-2 against top 25 RPI with a January loss to one above 100 RPI team.

St Johns is 6-4 against top 25 RPI with two December losses to above 100 RPI teams.

Notre Dame is 7-4 against top 25 RPI with the worse loss coming to Marquette (RPI 66).

I would say that these three teams are hot.  Who's hotter?  Who cares, they are all playing well.  UNC and ND will probably get 2 seeds pending conf tourneys where ND could creep into a 1 seed.

Since: Nov 6, 2007
Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:45 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

They started winning when they started playing crappy ACC teams. Besides Duke, Who did this tea beat over the last two months. People need to get real, they beat the likes of BC, clemson, and Georgia tech, oh wait they couldn't even beat them. Some say they started winning when they changed their roation, I think it had to do with the quality of their opponents. Beat Duke and somehow you deserve a two seed? C'mon now.

Since: Jan 3, 2009
Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:06 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

The comparison with UConn was apropos.  UNC is peaking now, after a rough early season.  UConn peaked in december/january and at 9-9 in conference is one of many teams (along with Villanova and Michigan State) whose best play is behind them.  Hopefully more teams like UNC will have a shot at the tourney and fewer of the fading 'name' teams.

Since: Jun 6, 2008
Posted on: March 6, 2011 8:44 am

UNC wins the ACC, is surging toward a two seed

After loosing the las three to Dook, and the way the Dookies ran the score up on last year.  Storming the court is the right thing to do.  The fealing of we're back came across the Tar Heel Nation.  The alst time we stormed the court was in 2005 after we beat Duke for thr regular season title.  It's college.  Let them storm the court.  For some of those students this might be their only chance.  The students that are seniors have had a great run.

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