The Tar Heels Should Get Wild In The NCAA Tournament’s West Region

    The University of North Carolina has become the Teflon Don of college basketball programs. 

    It was not that long ago that the N.C.A.A. announced in October of 2017 that it could not conclude that the University of North Carolina violated N.C.A.A. academic rules in what was widely considered the worst academic cheating scandal in college sports history.

    The Shadow League on Twitter

    NCAA clears University of North Carolina of academic violations: https://t.co/2nUVr5VbH9

    A year later, UNC enters the NCAA Tournament in a bid to repeat as national champions. A student-athlete scandal is once again at the forefront of college sports, but UNC was not among the schools busted in the FBIs probe into widespread corruption in college basketball recruiting. 

    The Tar Heels remain one of the country’s flagship programs, and head coach Roy Williams recently said he feels “very comfortable” that his program will not be implicated in the FBI’s ongoing probe. Williams’ focus is on winning his fourth NCAA hoops title and advancing past a West Region that has some classic names, but gives a rising, deep UNC squad an excellent chance to repeat as NCAA champs. 

    InsideCarolina on Twitter

    Go ahead and discount #UNC’s NCAA Tournament experience or its 14 Q1 wins this season. The Tar Heels plan to use those critiques as motivation for yet another Final Four run: https://t.co/zWBNbrSFgI

    The Tar Heels have had an up-and-down season after losing some key players from last seasons title squad, including NBA lottery pick Justin Jackson and the bulk of their rebounding.  It has taken these new crew of players some time to build chemistry. The experience of Joel Berry II and Luke Maye and the steady improvement of senior Theo Pinson gives UNC an advantage in close games. 

    North Carolina vs. Duke ACC Basketball Tournament Highlights (2018)

    North Carolina vs. Duke: Luke Maye posted his 16th double-double of the season as the 6th-seeded Tar Heels beat the rival Blue Devils 74-69 to advance to the New York Life ACC Tournament Championship game against Virginia. Kenny Williams, Cameron Johnson, Garrison Brooks and Joel Berry II also scored in double figures for the Heels.

    Outside of No. 1 seed Xavier and No. 3 seed Michigan, I dont see much competition for a North Carolina team that has all of the ingredients of a well-balanced, talented squad that can defend and make a deep run into the tournament. 

    They should cakewalk into the Elite 8 and then anything can happen. This time a year ago, Williams was concerned with how the UNC cheating scandal would hurt recruiting. This go round, his main concern is becoming the first team to win back-to-back NCAA titles since Billy Donovan and Florida did it in 2006-07. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.