The UNC Tarheels are tied as the betting odds favorite to win the NCAA Championship at a massive 10/1 price. Can Roy Williams and his team take down the National Title?
Tyus Jones was the only question mark and he too, has elected to go pro, leaving Mike Krzyzewski in a bit of a hole if he has any of chance of Duke repeating as National Champions. Kentucky is always going to be one of the favorites to win the title, but John Calipari will be hard-pressed to match the team that he had last year that went 38-1 and lost to Wisconsin. Wisconsin simply has too much work to do to return to the Final Four with Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker leaving. This leaves the North Carolina Tarheels, a team that has 4 returning starters and some key recruits to be the favorites to win the ACC Title and possibly win the Big Dance. Let's take a look.
J.P. Tokoto may have left for the NBA, but the Heels have Brice Johnson, Justin Jackson, Marcus Paige, and Kennedy Meeks all returning for the 2015-2016 NCAA Basketball Season. Part of this is related to the key players not being ready for the professional level and the other part is that they want a chance a winning the Big Dance.
Their really is not much to replace as Tokoto was the 5th leading scorer on the team. Johnson (12.9 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Kennedy Meeks (11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds) each give the Heels a scoring and rebounding presence. Johnson has already proven that he can play at an elite level when he shot 7 for 9 from the field in the Sweet 16 against Wisconsin. As for Meeks, he's going to see more playing time and he will need to mature, but his 6 foor 9, 280 pound frame speaks for itself as he dominates in the paint.
Turning the Paige
Marcus Paige is the go to guy offensively on the Tarheels as he led the team at 14.1 points and 4.5 assists and shot nearly 40% from,3-point range.
He had 2 - 20 plus point games down the stretch against Arkansas and Notre Dame last season and has the potential to be one of the best players in the nation and ready to make the jump to the pros next season. This is his season to shine and North Carolina will only go as far as he takes them, so keep this mind before placing your NCAA Basketball picks.
Icing On the Cake
This is an established team and while teams like Duke just signed the #3 recruit in ESPN's top 100 recruits yesterday in Brandon Ingram and #11 Chase Jeter, the Blue Devils have an entire team to replenish. Kentucky also landed the #2 player in the land in Skal Labissierre, but these players have to start all over again.
Where North Carolina is concerned, they surprisingly didn't do too much as their players are in place. While 5 star recruit, Jaylen Brown, is still considering the offer from UNC, they landed Huntersville, North Carolina native, power forward Luke Maye at the #95th position.
A 4 star player is nothing to sneeze about. Maye's strength is his ability to shoot from the perimeter at his size. We'll see if the lack of recruiting will work to the Tarheels benefit or not. Personally, when everything is in place, it's best to keep it that way and this is a team that's a great price at 10/1 on the NCAA Basketball odds in winning the National Championship.