The North Carolina basketball team begins their quest to repeat as national champions. The season opener will be November 10 against Northern Iowa.
The road to the 2017-2018 basketball season seemed treacherous for head coach Roy Williams and his Tar Heels. With an NCAA investigation looming over the program, the campus remained in a flux. The investigation began due to the possibility of fraudulent courses that the student-athletes were enrolled in. The classes were allegedly designed to benefit the athletes to help them maintain eligibility. After a series of revisions to the initial allegations, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions ruled that there were not any academic violations by the University of North Carolina. The ruling was released in a written statement on October 13, 2017. That same day the Tar Heels began their season with their edition of midnight madness, Late Night with Roy.
Late Night with Roy featured the unveiling of the 2017 championship banner and the introduction of the Tar Heels’ roster. Theo Pinson and Joel Berry will be leading the way this year as they are returning for their senior seasons. Roy Williams was able to secure new additions to the roster by acquiring six freshmen and two student-athletes via transfer. One of the freshmen recruits includes Jalek Felton, an ESPN 100 combo guard from South Carolina.
Joel Berry should look to take the reins of the team now that Justin Jackson is in the NBA. Berry will now have the task of becoming a leading scoring option and controlling the offense. He should consider increasing his assist to turnover ratio to become a more efficient player. Last season’s average of 1.9 turnovers per game is not of huge concern, but if his usage rate is to increase he will have to make sure that his turnovers do not increase as well. He has proven that he can take over games as he did in the national championship when he was named the most outstanding player. He will need to carry that same mentality into each game he plays for his team to be successful. His aggression on both sides of the ball should motivate his teammates to excel in their roles.
The Tar Heels will have to improve their free throw percentage in order to have a successful campaign this year. Shooting 70% from the line last season caused them to struggle a bit on the offensive end, but their defensive presence allowed them to make up for it. They will also need to continue their success on the glass by being one of the league leaders in rebounds. They led the NCAA in rebounds in the 2016-2017 season. If they are able to limit second chance points and score in transition they will be in position to have another great year of basketball.
The 2017-2018 season will begin with a pair of home games against Northern Iowa and Bucknell. Matchups to look for this year includes two games against the Duke Blue Devils, the Big Ten/ACC matchup with the Michigan Wolverines, and the annual CBS Sports Classic against the Ohio State Buckeyes.