College Basketball Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels Predictions with Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/26/2010
Last year’s UNC team was a perfect illustration of just how hard it is to win in college basketball. After winning a National Championship, the team lost four starters. That left them with a stunning lack of leadership. Despite a major influx of impressive young talent, the team just wasn’t good enough.
They were a preseason Top-5 team that wound up winning just 20 games, and which had a hideous 5-11 conference record. They didn’t even make the tournament, though they did make the finals of the NIT. Last year was depressing in almost every way for Tar Heel fans. Everyone involved hopes that this year will be better. There are lots of reasons to think that it will be.
There was a disappointing departure in May. Two of them, actually - twins David and Travis Wear surprisingly chose to transfer to UCLA. The team would be better if they hadn’t left, and it would be nice if they had more than two returning starters, but there are still more than enough reasons to be optimistic. Chief among them is Harrison Barnes - the top ranked freshman in the country. The 6-8 small forward carries the program on his shoulders - at least until he leaves for the NBA next year where he is touted as the potential top pick. He should have no trouble being the best player on his team and likely the best player in the game most of the time when he plays. He leads a very nice freshman class that should have this team forgetting about the bad old days of last year.
North Carolina Tar Heels Outlook
As good as Barnes is, the hopes of this team lie at the point guard position. Last year Larry Drew just wasn’t very good. He made bone-headed decisions, he chose exactly the wrong shot in a situation with shocking regularity, and he doesn’t know the meaning of the word poise. Simply put, Drew and freshman Kendall Marshall have to provide dramatically better point play than last year or this team is going nowhere.
The other thing this team needs to find - and looks to have - is much more of a killer instinct. Last year they just didn’t look like they were too concerned when things went badly. When things got tough they just quit. The team has been their most successful in the past when they have been meaner than their opponents, and Coach Williams will have to find a way to instill that hunger again this year. Freshmen Barnes, Marshall, and Reggie Bullock should help - they are all gritty. Justin Knox is a transfer from Alabama who knows how to grind and work hard. Younger players - most notably John Henson - are poised to take a step forward as well. In short, this team should be tougher and more talented than last year. My concern, though, is whether they are good enough outside of Barnes.
North Carolina College Basketball Futures Odds
North Carolina is 18/1 to win it all according to Bodog. Only four teams have lower prices. BetUS has them at +250 to win the ACC. That’s a distant second behind Duke (-250), but well ahead of third choice Virginia Tech (+650).
North Carolina Tar Heels Basketball Schedule
The schedule sets up well for a young team looking to gain confidence. A trip to Illinois and home games against Kentucky and Texas should be the only real challenges of the nonconference schedule. The conference schedule is highlighted by a season-ending home game against Duke. If the team gets on track this year then that game could have a lot on the line.
North Carolina Basketball Predictions and Betting Picks
Last year the Tar Heels were very overrated. They aren’t as highly ranked coming into the season, but I still think the reputation of coach and program has them in company that they don’t belong in. Time and again we have seen teams that are asking one young superstar to carry them fall short when it matters, and I don’t expect this team to be any different.
The most immediate problem they face is that they have a team in their own conference that is dramatically better than they are. The Tar Heels will be much better than the were last year and I could see them winning a few tournament games, but I just can’t view them as a legitimate threat to win the ACC or the National Championship. I wouldn’t dream of betting on them at the prices they are offered at.
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