The flashy names are gone- but the stars remain.
Who? The Tar Heels of North Carolina.
When do they play in the first round? UNC will play Liberty on Saturday, March 21 at 11 a.m. ET.
Where? Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the best-educated city in North Carolina.
Why? The conference record is slightly uninspiring, but everything else is brilliant.
How? They were an at-large selection.
Surprise? Predicted to finish fourth in the conference, they finished in sixth, five games behind Notre Dame.
Record: 24-8 (10-6 ACC)
Good wins: Stanford in Hawai’i.
Bad losses: Getting spanked at Pittsburgh.
Who’s running this show? Sylvia Hatchell, since 1986. Yep, she’s baaaaaaaaack. Leukemia be damned.
Extra, Extra! The News and Observer.
Losing the 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds of Xylina McDaniel early in the season did the Tar Heels no favors, but the talented squad recovered well behind a pair of sophomores, guard Allisha Gray (15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds) and bruising forward Stephanie Mavunga (14.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks). Advanced stats also speak well of senior guard Brittany Rountree, the team’s third scoring option.
North Carolina likes to play fast. They have a negative A/TO on the year, with a total of 473/495… but their opponents fare even worse, at 399/656.
Minor statistical note: I love Mavunga’s work on the offensive boards.