Tuesday, December 2, 2008

season preview: North Carolina

Besides just this preview (only three to go after this one!) it's worth a mention that the football all-ACC teams have been selected, and congrats are in order to Eugene Monroe and John Phillips (first team), Clint Sintim and Ras-I Dowling (second team), and Kevin Ogletree and Cedric Peerman (honorable mention). The breakdown goes like this:

First teamers:

Georgia Tech: 4
Wake Forest: 3
Boston College: 3
Florida State: 3
Maryland: 3
North Carolina: 2
Virginia: 2
Clemson: 2
Duke: 1
NC State: 1
Virginia Tech: 1
Miami: 0


Boston College: 9
Maryland: 9
Florida State: 8
Georgia Tech: 8
Virginia Tech: 8
North Carolina: 7
Virginia: 6
Clemson: 5
Wake Forest: 5
Duke: 4
NC State: 4
Miami: 3

Now for UNC. They are, of course, a freaking machine.

Media prediction: 1st (and it's unanimous)

ACC schedule:

Once: Boston College (H), Clemson (H), Florida State (A), Georgia Tech (H), Virginia Tech (A), Wake Forest (A)
Twice: Duke, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Virginia

2007 All-ACC:

First team: F Tyler Hansbrough
Second team: G Wayne Ellington
Third team: None
Freshman: None
Defensive: G Marcus Ginyard
HM: G Ty Lawson, F Tyler Hansbrough (def.)

(italics: returning)

Projected starters: (obviously by this point in the season it's not so much a projection any more)

PG: Ty Lawson (Jr.)
SG: Wayne Ellington (Jr.)
SF: Marcus Ginyard (Sr.)
PF: Deon Thompson (Jr.)
C: Tyler Hansbrough (Sr.)


F Danny Green (Sr.)
G Bobby Frasor (Sr.)
F Tyler Zeller (Fr.)
F Ed Davis (Fr.)
G Will Graves (So.)
G Larry Drew (Fr.)

(italics: returning)

Coach: Roy Williams (6th year)

There's hardly any sense in bothering to analyze these guys. Where, exactly, is the weak point in their lineup? Deon Thompson? He's the one guy in the lineup who isn't as big a name, and oh by the way he's averaging 16 and 8 right now. Such is the magic of North Carolina basketball that by all rights, most of their lineup ought to have jumped to the NBA by now. UNC should be having to try and rebuild and nobody would feel the slightest bit sorry for them because rebuilding with three McDonald's All-Stars (Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew) doesn't sound like such a difficult thing to do.

So you'll have to forgive me if I sound a little slobberish and overeffusive when I talk about UNC. But the fact is, when our two teams tip off on Jan. 28, there is nothing we can do to stop them. There's college basketball, then there's ACC basketball, and then there's championship basketball, and this is championship basketball. Let's key in on All-Cosmos Tyler Hansbrough, and maybe if we're lucky Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson won't carpet-bomb threes on us. Wait, no, let's play a zone to stop their guards from penetrating, and then we can hear about how Psycho T broke out of the strait jacket again and went terrorizing the town, collecting 24 rebounds along the way.

The only thing that can stop this UNC team is injuries, and right now even that's not working. Marcus Ginyard will be out until the conference season, and Hansbrough is sort of not quite exactly healthy, and UNC just nuked an NIT team (UNC-Asheville) by 68. Without Hansbrough. That's after dropping 102 on Luke Harangody's Notre Dame team. All five of those starting players could step on a land mine and UNC would still have enough talent for a single-digit seed in the tournament.

So, expectations? Oh, just a little. UNC made the Final Four last year, which is nice, you always want to make the Final Four, but losing to Kansas might have had a little bit of an effect on all these guys' decisions to come back. Return to school they did, and now the only thing that'll appease their appetite is trophies, and lots of 'em. It's national title or bust for these guys. Anyone dumb enough to bet against them?

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