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What is Wrong with North Carolina?

0-3, last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, have lost to Belmont and UAB.

That right there is UNC's 2013-2014 season to this point. The Tar Heels are 10-6 overall, but lost
Roy Williams
today to Syracuse easily to drop their ACC record to 0-3. Previously, the Heels had lost to two relatively weak conference foes in Wake Forest and Miami. Currently, North Carolina is the only school in the entire 15-team ACC without a conference win, which means they are dead last in a conference that includes teams like Virginia Tech and Clemson. It isn't like UNC isn't talented; even without guard/forward P.J. Hairston, the Heels still have sophomore guard Marcus Paige, junior James Michael McAdoo and exciting dunker J.P. Tokoto. So why in the world is North Carolina, a powerhouse program for years and years just 10-6?

The obvious reason would be the schedule. UNC has played four teams ranked in the top 11 when they played them including Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville and just today, Syracuse. But, UNC beat Louisville and Kentucky comfortably and beat-then No. 1 Michigan State by double digits. That means the Heels are 3-1 against ranked teams and 7-5 against non-ranked teams. That stat is just head-scratching. Head coach Roy Williams always gets his teams to play the best in big games but beating Michigan State one day and then losing to UAB the next is just weird. UNC is still extremely young, they are still just two years removed from their NBA exodus, when Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall all went pro. But, they were young last year and still managed to be an eight seed in the tournament, pretty amazing considering how much they lost when those four left. The issues for North Carolina seem to start with an obvious thing; the lack of a player they can rely on to score. Although Paige is averaging 17 points a game while shooting 41% from the field and 91% from the line. McAdoo was expected to break out last year but it never happened and I am starting to wonder if he will ever fulfill his vast potential. He has a big frame but is still mobile has good touch and is strong, but nothing has clicked for him with UNC yet. The loss of Hairston has been a huge loss for the Heels. He sometimes drove you crazy with some of the shots he took but you could lean on him. Paige is a great scorer but he can't play all 40 minutes. If you have watched UNC play at all this year you can clearly tell the offense is just terrible when Paige isn't on the court. UNC needs a go-to scorer to finish off late games as well, they have dropped a number of close ones (an overtime victory over Davidson was the exception). Their three very bad non-conference losses to Texas, UAB and Belmont were by a combined 10 points. UNC's shooting has been terrible all year, the big reason why they put up just 45 today against the 'Cuse. They need to get in the ball in the paint more they can't beats teams shooting, they have proved that.

So what happens if this continues? Things will get a little bit easier for the Tar Heels during late January and early February before they get intense rival Duke at home. Boston College, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Clemson are their next four games all beatable teams, with Joe Harris and Virginia probably being the toughest of the four. If UNC doesn't turn the ball over and they can find some consistent help with Paige they could win all four and improve to over .500 in the conference. But, Wake Forest and Miami looked like they would be wins, and North Carolina lost them both. It is no secret North Carolina, one of college basketball's proudest programs, has not been that dominant since their championship season in 2009. Big name recruits are heading elsewhere, the school hasn't reached a Final Four since '09 despite having very talented teams and the program's national recognition as power just hasn't been there. If they continue to struggle would it be crazy to think Roy Williams is on the hot seat in Chapel Hill? He has turned the program around since arriving at Kansas but losing games to weak ACC opponents and teams against the Ohio Valley Conference (Belmont) or UAB from the Conference USA. Things need to change for UNC and quickly before this season is a complete loss. They have something to build on, they have beat some great teams this year and their schedule is favorable the rest of the way except for matchups against Duke twice. UNC needs some scoring punch and they might just not have that on the roster this year. The good news is that they may have it next year with three talented five-star recruits coming in including athletic Justin Jackson, the No. 1 small forward in next year's class. Perhaps for many Tar Heels' fans it may be easier to look forward to next year if things don't turn around.

Next Game: vs. 5-11 Boston College
Leading Scorer: Paige, 17.0
Assists: Paige, 4.4
Rebounds: Johnson, 6.8

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