North Carolina has a laundry list of marquee wins this season. They didn’t let the P.J. Hariston drama distract the team. They were the best team in the country during a stretch in January and February.
The Providence Friars makes their first NCAA Tournament appearance in ten years. It has also been that long since they had back-to-back seasons finishing with a record over .500. Are they ready for the bright lights of the Big Dance?
Who do you think will win? We help you fill out your bracket.
North Carolina faced some tough competition in the ACC this season. The addition of Syracuse to the conference definitely increased the already high standard in the conference. After a few rough losses to Belmont and UAB early in the season and starting out the ACC schedule 0-3, the Tar Heels finally hit their stride with 12 straight wins. They did lose their last two games, which included losing their first game in the ACC tournament. Head coach Roy Williams got career years out of Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo. They are also one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
Providence took advantage of the new Big East Conference. The competition level may have taken a hit, but they found themselves in the NCAA Tournament. They earned an automatic bid by beating Creighton in the conference tournament final. Their non-conference schedule left a lot to the imagination and they only have two marquee wins, both again Creighton. Senior guard Bryce Cotton developed into one of the best scoring point guards in the country. It helps when you have players like LaDontae Henton and Kadeem Batts in the paint.
North Carolina is more battle-tested than Providence. The Tar Heels have marquee wins against Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. When you can beat four of the most historic programs like that in one season, you’re ready to make noise in the NCAA Tournament.
Prediction: #6 North Carolina Tar Heels
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.