By Nick Schaeflein @ptchr2424 on March 18, 2014
The North Carolina Tar Heels are the No. 6 seed in the East region for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. This year, they started out with some troublesome losses, but also had wins over two of the heavy favorites in the field in Michigan State and Louisville. The Tar Heels have a favorable draw to the Final Four if they play to their potential for a full 40 minutes. Here are the Heels' six most important players heading into the dance.
Depending on his minutes and the flow of the game, the freshman forward Kennedy Meeks could become a key piece for the Tar Heels. He is a big body who can fill the lane on both sides of the floor, snag some rebounds and also add in a few points. Staying out of foul trouble will also be key for Meeks.
Like Meeks, the sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto is also capable of being a spark for Carolina. For a big man, he is second on the team in assists per game. He is also a great defender down low.
Brice Johnson is another sophomore forward for Roy Williams. He is third on the team in points per game and also leads the team in blocks. His defensive presence will be known when Carolina clamps down.
Guard Leslie McDonald is Carolina's lone senior who really gets significant minutes. He averages over 10 points per game, but in order to make a deep run his outside shot will need to be dialed in. McDonald is really the only other threat from three-point land opposite Marcus Paige. To take pressure off of Paige, he will need to knock a few down and get hot.
Junior forward James Michael McAdoo is a solid player. If he gets hot, he can pour in a bunch of points and carry the Heels. However, in games it appears like if McAdoo does not get off to a fast start, he is vulnerable to some struggles. If he does struggle, it unfortunately could be a quick exit for UNC. McAdoo must stay involved in the offense, play smart and score in bunches.
Sophomore guard Marcus Paige is the engine that makes Carolina go. In his two years, he has really evolved into a big-time player. However, he does have a habit of laying really low in the first half, then turning it on in the second half. Like McAdoo, Paige will need to be involved early and often for Carolina to advance far. He is the team's best free throw shooter and three-point shooter. He will need to stay healthy, on the court and hot.
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