No Carolina team has ever had the expectations that the current team faces. The unanimous number one and returning the Player of the Year, falling short of a championship will be hard to justify as anything but a disappointment. There are only three days left until Soulja Roy leads his troops into battle for the first first step in the journey that all Carolina fans hope will end with the teams' second championship in four years. Unfortunately, there's several reasons... ten or so... from Carolina history, that it just might not happen.
10. Steve Alford aka the Freshman - Carolina entered the 1984 NCAA tournament as a number one seed, but in the
second [ed: third] round they ran into Indiana. Alford's 27 points paced the Hoosiers to a 72-68 victory ending the collegiate career of a certain player who, himself, once hit a big shot as a freshman. Steve Alford coaches in New Mexico now, but there are several freshmen that could end breaking hearts in Chapel Hill.
9. Art Heyman - It was the scuffle between Heyman and Larry Brown that is credited with elevating the Duke/Carolina rivalry that has since risen even higher to become the best in sports. The fallout, however, for both teams was suspensions. If a goon like Gerald Henderson decides to take a cheap shot and there's no Dewey Burke around to restrain Tyler Hansbrough suspensions could potentially play a role in this season. I would link the video to Henderson's cheap shot, but I can't link to anything with Billy Packer out of principle.
8. Harold Arceneaux aka the Transfer - In one of the most impressive shows against the Heels since Randolph Childress, Arceneaux almost single-handedly carried 14 seed Weber State to a first round victory. He had 36 points, including 20 in the second half and a critical steal to seal the 76-74 win. Any player getting as hot as "The Show" has the potential to cut short a season, and here's some of the transfers may have a chance this season.
7. The Buzzer Beater - The most memorable buzzer beater against the Heels, since before Dennis Scott had a tattoo of himself on his arm, only tied the game and Carolina would ultimately go on to win. In recent ACC tournaments they've been on both sides of buzzer beaters (courtesy of Tyler Hansbrough and Jarrett Jack), but no team or round is safe from the great play, the lucky prayer, or the hustle at the horn (that Packer ban lasted long).
6. & 5. 40-12 or 1 for 23 - Could also be called timeout in the pockets. This very team has seen both a horrendous cold streak end their championship run against Georgetown and an incredibly hot start kill their hopes versus Kansas. This is the joy and the pain of the one and done scenario that is college basketball.
4. The State of Texas - The boys in blue are 2-4 all-time against teams from the state of Texas and have never beaten a Big XII Texas team in the tourney. It was Carolina that helped Darvin Ham earn a Sports Illustrated cover. The silver lining for the Heel faithful is that Carolina's losses have come in 3 v. 6 seed matchups. If the Tarheels perform as expected, they should be a one seed and it was a win against Houston in the Final Four that set up Dean Smith's first championship in 1982.
3. The Triangle and Two aka Hubris - A defensive look the team had not seen all year from Utah was the undoing of Antawn Jamison/Vince Carter era. The team was thrown off kilter to the point that at least one player started lashing out at random Ute substitutes. The Carolina players didn't think they could be beat and by the time they realized how fundamentally sound Utah was, the defensive clamps were already in place and the dye was cast.
2. Tom LaGarde's Knee - (Could easily have been Kenny Smith's wrist, Phil Ford's ankle, or several others). In 1977, Tom LaGarde was a starting forward for the Heels. He was a captain, the team's leading shot blocker, rebounder and led the team in field goal percentage. He was lost to the team in February with a leg injury (sounding potentially familiar?), but even without him the team made it all the way to the national championship game. Most people believed Carolina was a superior team to Marquette, but foul trouble for freshman forward Michael O'Koren and the loss of depth helped the
Golden Eagles Gold Hilltoppers Golden Eagles Warriors emerge victorious in Al McGuire's final year. Danny Green, Bobby Frasor, Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough have all been subject of injury concerns over the last year and their collective ability to stay on the court will be of paramount importance.
1. Roy Williams - Blasphemer! If it wasn't for a tremendous Matt Doherty recruiting class, this could very easily be a make or break year for Coach Williams. Think about the last three years (refer to 6 & 5 for the last two). The other was a loss to an eleven seed. Granted the 2006 team was not one of Carolina's best, but all three have the boys going down in a dramatic fashion. Last season, the team did not look ready to play in a Final Four game, and two years ago the team collapsed. The 2005 Championship has been the saving grace, because otherwise the pressure on this team and Roy would be palpable. Roy is a tremendous recruiter and a very good coach, but he needs to step up his game come tournament time.