MEET THE TAR HEELS

North Carolina Central v North Carolina

Hey don’t cry, little buddy. The Sweet 16 is still pretty great.

#4 North Carolina Tar Heels
26-11 (11-7, 5th in ACC)

How did they get here?
North Carolina survived a massive scare from Ivy League darling #13 Harvard in the opening round, 67-65. The Tar Heels blew a 16-point second half lead in that game, as the Crimson missed a pretty good look as time expired that would have A) given them the one point win and B) been really awesome. They played a back-and-forth game with Arkansas for most of the way on Saturday until pulling away with about 10 minutes to play.

UNC received an at-large bid to the tournament after being bounced from the ACC tournament by eventual champion Notre Dame, 90-82.

Who is their best player?
Junior guard Marcus Paige forms one half of a talented UNC backcourt along with Menomonee Falls’ own J.P. Tokoto, also a junior. Paige was on the preseason Wooden Award watch list, but missed the mid-season cut when he got worse at pretty much everything after a breakout sophomore season. He still leads the Tar Heels in every major category other than rebounds and field goal percentage, so he hasn’t been disappointing enough to not be the team’s best player, which I suppose is all the more disappointing for Tar Heels fans. But who cares about them, most of them think N*Sync was better than the Backstreet Boys and that yellow is the best flavor of Starbursts.

Can the Tar Heels beat Wisconsin?
Probably not. The Tar Heels are big, and score a lot of points from the free throw line: they rank 26th in Division I in free throw attempts (21.5 per game). Unfortunately for UNC, Wisconsin doesn’t really ever foul anyone: their 10.9 FT attempts allowed per game is so much better than the rest of Division I that the difference between the Badgers and 2nd place San Diego St. is equal to the difference between 2nd and 19th place on that list. That’s bonkers.

The Tar Heels also won’t be able to use their size to bully the Badgers as they have done to smaller teams throughout the year, which is especially true now that starting center Kennedy Meeks is likely to miss Thursday’s game after an injury sustained against Arkansas. UNC can’t shoot threes and the Badgers don’t turn the ball over or foul, so if they get behind, the Tar Heels will basically just be praying Wisconsin goes cold.

Just what the heck is a Tar Heel anyway, huh?
“Tar Heel” is a nickname given to the state of North Carolina and it’s inhabitants that originated around the time of the Civil War. It was originally meant as a pejorative term, but North Carolinians co-opted the term and made it a source of pride, not unlike the way Packers fans hijacked “cheesehead” for their own.

Why are folks from North Carolina called Tar Heels? Well they’ve got a whole mess of tar-producing pine trees in North Carolina, that might be it. Or it might refer to any of a number of stories of legend┬áconcerning North Carolina’s involvement in the Civil War. Nobody is really sure and who cares anyway, it’s a stupid nickname and why the heck is their mascot a ram? A ram doesn’t even have any dang heels you jabronis.

What is the best case scenario?
The Badgers clog up the inside in the absence of Meeks and force the Tar Heels to bomb away from outside, where they rank 316th in the nation with 4.6 three point field goals made per game. Wisconsin builds a house with the bricks the Tar Heels lay all night, which they subsequently donate to a needy family living in the poorer part of Los Angeles. Traevon Jackson returns and plays 17 useful minutes, mostly in garbage time as the Badgers mop up a 17 point win.

What is the worst case scenario?
The Badgers three losses this year have come in rather fluky scenarios: Duke shot 65% and 58% from the 3-point line, in their win; Rutgers caught them without Kaminsky and Jackson, who sustained the foot injury that has kept him out for the past two months in that game; and Maryland rode a ridiculous performance from Dez Wells to wins. In this week’s episode, the Badgers follow the same plan as above, but instead of having a nice laugh at Paige doinking threes off the back of the rim, Wisconsin is shocked as UNC makes it rain, shoots over 50% from beyond the arc, and shoots the Badgers out of the tournament. Sam Dekker declares for the draft, and Nigel Hayes joins him.

Posted on March 24, 2015, in Badgers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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