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2016-2017 UNC basketball

The Results (click each game for an analysis)

Tar Heels 95, Tulane 75 See season preview below
Tar Heels 97, Chattanooga 57 Georgia Tech 75, Tar Heels 63
Tar Heels 93, Long Beach State 67 Tar Heels 89, Clemson 86
Tar Heels 83, Hawaii 68 Tar Heels 107, NC State 56
Tar Heels 104, Chaminade 61 Tar Heels 93, Wake Forest 87
Tar Heels 107, Oklahoma St. 75 Tar Heels 96, Florida State 83
Tar Heels 71, Wisconsin 56 Tar Heels 85, Syracuse 68
Indiana 76, Tar Heels 67 Tar Heels 90, Boston College 82
Tar Heels 95, Radford 50 Tar Heels 91, Virginia Tech 72
Tar Heels 83, Davidson 74 Miami 77, Tar Heels 62
Tar Heels 73, Tennessee 71 Tar Heels 80, Pittsburgh 78
Kentucky 103, Tar Heels 100 Tar Heels 83, Notre Dame 76
Tar Heels 85, Northern Iowa 42 Duke 86, Tar Heels 78
Tar Heels 102, Monmouth 74 Tar Heels 97, Notre Dame 73
Tar Heels 65, Virginia 41
Tar Heels 74, Louisville 63
Tar Heels 80, Pittsburgh 78
Virginia 53, Tar Heels 43
Tar Heels 90, Duke 83
Tar Heels 78, Miami 53
Duke 93, Tar Heels 83
Tar Heels 103, Texas Southern 64
  Tar Heels 72, Arkansas 65
Tar Heels 92, Butler 80
  Tar Heels 75, Kentucky 73
   

© 2016 CB3media Cary, NC

2016-17 UNC Season Preview
Will the Tar Heels shoot some threes, play some D and will depth be the key?

Last season, the North Carolina Tar Heels went into the basketball season with high expectations, being ranked in the top 3 of most preseason polls. After some unexpected losses, the Heels finally gelled late and lived up to those expectations - losing to Villanova in the NCAA finals.

The 2016-17 version, without leader Marcus Paige and All-America Brice Johnson, may or may not make it back to the championship game but Carolina has a good chance to finish with a comparable record.

The Heels have six very experienced players although Theo Pinson, a 6-6 junior swingman, has been lost for much, if not all, of the season with a broken foot. Pinson, who led the team in assists per minute last year, is expected to make it back on the floor by late January.

If he returns earlier, he could be an impact player as Coach Roy Williams had planned to start him at the off-guard position. If he's not ready until late January, the Heels might think about getting a medical redshirt for him.

By then a crop of new talent will be enmeshed with returning starters Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Joel Berry, and experienced players off the bench in Nate Britt and Isaiah Hicks.

Pinson's injury could provide freshman Seventh Woods with some early-season time but the 6-foot-1 speedster in probably more in line to play point guard behind Joel Berry.

Brandon Robinson, a thin 6-foot-5 freshman guard, has impressed teammates and coaches with his shooting ability. If he becomes a three-point threat, his value and playing time will greatly increase. Again, with the absence of Pinson early, he'll get an opportunity as will sophomore Kenny Williams, who came in as a three-point phenom but who failed to deliver.

Britt, a senior, should start and get the majority of playing time at the No. 2 guard spot in Pinson's absence. While only scoring five points in 15 minutes per game last year, Britt has shown flashes of brilliance and has been a spark off the bench. He could be a wild card for the Heels this season.

The freshman most likely to make an immediate impact this season is 6-foot-10 freshman Tony Bradley, who was ranked No. 17 in the country's senior class last year. His 7-foot-4 wingspan should come in handy under the boards. He scored nine points and hauled in eight rebounds in the UNC exhibition game against Pembroke.

Unless the Tar Heels go with a big lineup, which is rare considering the tempo at which Coach Williams likes to play, he'll be coming off the bench to spell Hicks, who himself was the top big man off the bench last season.

If Hicks can stay out of foul trouble, he could be one of the best interior players in the country. If not, look to see a lot from Bradley. Hicks averaged nine points in 18 minutes per game last season. That could be a reasonable expectation from Bradley this season unless sophomore Luke Maye, who played just over five minutes a game last year, shows marked improvement.

The 6-foot-8 Maye, known as a rebounder, has shown improvement so far as he demonstrated in the exhibition game against Pembroke where he scored 15 points, missed just one shot and grabbed eight rebounds.

The team's top rebounder is expected to be 6-foot-10 senior Kennedy Meeks. An inconsistent player who didn't make the normal improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons, Meeks will be out to prove his worth with Brice Johnson graduated. He'll be counted on to create some of the down-low offense that Johnson provided. How well he does that could indicate how far the Tar Heels will go in the NCAA tournament.

But the keys to the success of the 2016-17 UNC basketball team are two players who thought about turning pro after last season - juniors Joel Berry and Justin Jackson. The ACC media has already picked Berry to its preseason All-ACC team and Jackson to its preseason All-ACC second team.

If the Tar Heels are to challenge favored Duke for the ACC crown, they'll likely need Jackson to be a first-team All-ACC player as well. Someone's got to pick up the scoring slack vacated by the graduated seniors, especially Johnson. Jackson, who averaged 12 a game last year, needs to improve that stat by four or five points per game.

Meanwhile Berry will have to take on the leadership duties of Paige in addition to his ability to drive the lane or hit a long, or even pull up mid-range, shot. He's a steadying influence on the Tar Heels and keeping him healthy will be a key.

Despite being an experienced team, there are many questions about this year's team. Will the loss of Pinson hurt them, especially defensively? Can the Heels improve on their three-point shooting? Will the freshmen provide the needed depth, particularly if foul trouble or injury plagues Carolina?

The ACC should be even stronger - top to bottom - this season than it was last year. The Tar Heels could be as good as last year and yet not do as well in the conference or the NCAA tourney.

I'm thinking the Heels will go something like 31-8 and reach the Elite 8. But if the ball bounces just right, the Tar Heels could be in a position to avenge its narrow lost in the NCAA finals last season.

- Clifton Barnes