In The Zone, the Tar Heels lose in the ACC Tourney

Has anyone seen this man? Heels fans want to know.

Has anyone seen this man? Heels' fans want to know.


Well, I got one big one right.

After whiffing on Clemson and Wake Forest, I was right about North Carolina falling in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. From Wednesday:

No. 1 North Carolina Surprise.

They are the most talented team, but the red flags for this particular weekend are everywhere. Roy Williams is already talking down the importance of the tournament, bringing up 2005 every chance he gets. (Heels lost the ACC Tourney, but won the NCAA title.) Ty Lawson is being made out to sound like he needs a wheelchair after nearly throwing up a trip-dub on Duke on the same sore toe.

I just think the Heels, who could very well win this tournament, will be going about three-quarters speed this weekend. If they win, fine. But if they lose, fine. A few more days off. Roy did this at Kansas, too. That’s just the feeling I get. And the draw isn’t easy. Chance of winning: 25 percent

Lawson didn’t play again, and that certainly hurt the Heels. But Toney Douglas would’ve gone off for 27 points anyway, maybe even more against Lawson.

But what was with the 2-3 zone? Let the conspiracy theories begin. We all know about Williams’ indifference to the ACC Tournament, and it may be justified. He’s right when he notes that the 2005 result — losing in the ACC Tourney but winning the NCAA championship — is a lot better than winning the ACC Tourney and losing in the NCAAs, like the last couple of years.

And yes, FSU is bigger than Carolina, so maybe that’s why he tried the zone — to pack things in against the Noles’ bigs. And maybe to try to save the Heels’ legs in the event of three games in three days.

Except FSU immediately got hotter than Hades once UNC went to the zone, and made five 3s in a 5-minute stretch to hold the lead for much of the last half of the second half.

And, to add more to the conspiracy theories, after struggling against FSU’s halfcourt defense all game, why not call a timeout to draw something up for the last 20 seconds? But no, that’s not the Carolina way, so UNC throws up two desperation 3s and loses. Ugly.

Now it’s on to the NCAAs, where UNC still has a good chance to win it all. Wayne Ellington is stroking, Tyler Hansbrough is playing well and Lawson should be rested, though maybe rusty.

But for the Heels to win it all, they better find Danny Green, who’s been MIA for a while now. He was 3 of 25 from the floor in the two games. If he doesn’t contribute, UNC won’t make the Final Four.

I’ll check back in after the Duke/Maryland game. For the week now, though, I’m 6-3, and my pick to win it is still alive. Not bad.

Make it 7-3.

From Wednesday, again:

No. 3 Duke Take the loss in Chapel Hill away — the Blue Devils are peaking.

After three years of swooning with tired legs at the end of the season, Mike Krzyzewski has remade the team over the last month. Realizing the team as constructed after losses to UNC and BC couldn’t win in March, he moved Jon Scheyer to the point and inserted little-used freshman Elliot Williams into the rotation as a non-go-to shooting guard.

It’s working, as Scheyer is bigger than most points and can just shoot over people and Williams is a good defender. Scheyer also takes great care of the ball — Duke went four straight games with single-digit turnovers (and had only 11 against UNC). Kyle Singler is banging again and rebounding, and Gerald Henderson is still Gerald Henderson.

Sure, they really only have three major scoring threats, but they defend. And while the Dukies can still get tired and go through lengthy stretches where nothing seems to fall for them, there’s no denying they are better now than they were a month ago. And they could’ve swept Wake.

And so I’m picking the Blue Devils to win another ACC Tournament championship.

Of course, picking the ACC Tournament is no sure thing. But I believe Duke has the best chance. Chance of winning: 50 percent

I stand by all of it. And I stand by this, too (also from Wednesday’s column):

No. 4 Florida State They play defense and they get a bye and they have one of the league’s best players in Toney Douglas and they are a tough matchup for the Tar Heels. Dangerous. Chance of winning: 27 percent

I think it will be a tremendous final, and I still think Duke wins.

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Filed under ACC, ACC Tournament, Boston College, Clemson Tigers, College Basketball, Designated Hitter, Duke Blue Devils, Final Four, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Maryland Terrapins, Miami Hurricanes, N.C. State Wolfpack, NCAA Tournament, North Carolina Tar Heels, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald, Tyler Hansbrough, UNC Tar Heels, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies

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