North Carolina Tar Heels Rounding Into Form At The Perfect Time

By Gregory Philson
Brice Johnson
Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels have had one of the most peculiar seasons in all of college basketball. Coach Roy Williams has dealt with suspended players, a dismissed P.J. Hairston, three early upsets and three loses to unranked and unequal teams. Through it all, the Tar Heels came into the ACC season highly touted and considered one of the favorites to win the league.

A 1-4 start in conference play halted any of that talk and North Carolina did not look like a team that should even be in the NCAA tournament. Then, after getting clobbered by Virginia, the Tar Heels had a sudden change on both ends of the court. Defense became the fire starter for the offense. Every single player was suddenly hustling for loose balls, diving to the floor and tipping away and stealing passes. This defense ignited the offense and James Michael McAdoo — who is the team’s best player now — has become the focus on offense. McAdoo is completely turning into a mismatch for any team to deal with on both ends; he has scored in double figures in 17 straight games, grabbed at least eight rebounds in seven of those games, and is a menace on defense.

McAdoo’s emergence has eased the pressure on Marcus Paige. Paige was carrying the Tar Heels the first month of the season, but started to slow when conference play commenced. McAdoo has been the go-to player since, and North Carolina is better because of it. Brice Johnson is one of the best shot blockers in the country recently, Kennedy Meeks shows signs of brilliance more often than not, and North Carolina is now the owner of a six-game win streak.

The upcoming week will definitely be a litmus test of how tough the Tar Heels are with three games is six days.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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