Pretty much every college basketball fan on the planet knew going into the 2012 season that the North Carolina Tar Heels would be a dominant force on the hardwood. As a huge North Carolina Tar Heels fan myself, it is fairly easy to understand why we might be overjoyed at the prospects of winning yet another national title. Considering the talent that the Tar Heels possess, that is not an over-the-top type of suggestion. When UNC fans start to consider the possibilities of the team going undefeated, however, many college basketball fans outside of Chapel Hill begin to roll their eyes. While I generally disagree that any college basketball team will go undefeated in today's modern game, I do feel that UNC has as good a shot at doing so as any team in recent history. Here are five good reasons why:
When you look at North Carolina's lineup from top to bottom, it can be very intimidating. Just about every player on North Carolina's bench would likely be starters on other teams. While Carolina can come at you in waves throughout the game, they do not have to worry about a drop-off in talent when they do so. When a player gets into foul trouble, they simply bring in yet another McDonald's All-American to take their place.
If the Tar Heels had a weakness last year, it was three-point shooting as a team. Towards the end of the year, that problem solved itself as Harrison Barnes heated up and Dexter Strickland started to recover. During the off-season, North Carolina's best three point threat, Leslie McDonald, was sidelined with a torn ACL. Despite the loss of McDonald, the Tar Heels have a healthy Strickland, Barnes, Reggie Bullock and freshman star in the making in P.J. Hairston. Point guard Kendall Marshall has also shown that he can hit the three on occasion as well. As for the Tar Heels talent down low, it is well documented. With Tyler Zeller, John Henson and newcomer James Michael McAdoo on the block, the Heels have an impressive inside-outside combination.
Virtually every non-freshman on the Tar Heels roster has NCAA tournament experience. The Heels went deep into the tournament in 2011 until a loss to Kentucky in the East Regional finals . That big-game experience is sure to help the Tar Heels handle the special circumstances that happen throughout the season. Carolina is as experienced as you could hope for in a college basketball team, and that bodes well for an undefeated run.
When you have players the caliber of John Henson and Tyler Zeller patrolling the paint, you can afford to take chances with your guards. This allows Carolina to draw the opponent into their style of play. Because they are able to play the passing lanes so well, Carolina is able to run up and down the court and take advantage of their athleticism. On those occasions whenever they do overplay the ball, Zeller and Henson are able to erase any mistakes by altering the shot or blocking it on defense. Carolina is also blessed with extreme quickness in both the starting lineup as well as the bench.
Top shelf coaching
Roy Williams is one of the most respected coaches in all of college basketball and annually a good candidate for Coach of the year. His years of experience and talent for handling multiple egos would be a great asset towards trying to run the table. Roy Williams knows how to win games and guard against the upset.
In the end, an undefeated season is highly unlikely at best. If anybody is going to be undefeated in 2012, however, it will be the Tar Heels.
*Southern is a lifelong Tar Heels fan that drinks the "Micheal Jordan is the greatest of all time Kool-Aid" proudly. He also counts the 1982 NCAA championship win as one of the greatest moments in college basketball history.