By: Keith Hartley
Expectations. They’re really a funny thing that can alter your perception of things drastically.
For instance, it’s expectations that can make a $1 NY pizza slice seem like the most glorious thing ever after a night of a few whiskey doubles. It also, in my case, can make seemingly one of the most beloved TV shows of all time (The Office) seem like it’s perfectly mediocre because all of your friends telling you how AHHMAAZZING this show is and it TOTALLY fits your dry style of humor (thanks friends for ruining this for me).
Expectations have seemingly already gone way up for this UNC team for Bill Walton and many of the rest of the nation. Quick side tangent, if you watched any of the games Bill Walton commentated on with your volume over a 2, you are a much better person than I and I will bow before your powerful will power because I just can’t do it. My Mount Rushmore of terrible sports commentators goes as follows:
George Washington = Joe Buck – The OG and is just head and shoulders above all others if by nothing else than sure reputation alone.
Thomas Jefferson = Troy Aikman – Collab’ed with the OG on some big things but some still think they’re only riding off the OG’s coattails.
Abraham Lincoln = Bill Walton – Two mountains of men in their profession long heralded by the masses as the unreserved best/worst.
Teddy Roosevelt = Stephen A Smith – Doesn’t exactly fit the same mold as the previous three but because of their brash attitudes and political incorrectness end up making a spot here. However, unlike Teddy, Stephen A. didn’t make this list by being a close personal friend of the creator. A dear, dear friend of mine.
Sorry long tangent over, now back to my poor UNC analysis so someone else on another blog can quickly put me on the Mount Rushmore of worst sports writers ever.
Sooo, where were we? Oh, right expectations, let’s get back to my expectations of this team vs. the masses. According to many in the national media, this is the defending National Champions (should be twice over but don’t get me started on one of the worst days of my life) and #9 ranked team in the nation. Both of these accolades are true but I don’t feel they paint a true picture of what this team is. We are team Joel Berry and, to steal from the 2016 Cubs and Dexter Fowler, you go we go. He is the linchpin of this team and if there is to be any Final Four visit, it will be because this team matured all around and because JB is playing like a potential Wooden Award finalist.
So getting to my expectations for the year, this team needs to grow and learn a lot for us to be talked about in any Final Four discussions. Like most Roy Williams coached teams, they’re going to be some growing pains but he is one of the best teachers of the game in the nation. At some point, UNC will likely dip into the high teens/low 20’s of the national poll but if we can make it into mid-January trending in the right direction, this team has some potential.
Those last two months though will be the true measuring stick by which this season is judged as we’ll have to go through a very good/borderline great Notre Dame team, twice, Duke, twice, and Miami (thankfully at home). These games will either build the fortitude and perseverance or will break this team going into March. I believe it will be more of the former but really getting down to it, we just don’t have the type of top talent to run to the Final Four. If this team makes it to the Elite 8 and has a valiant defeat, I would consider this season a success. As with most teams that win the national championship without all one and done’s, the next year is usually a down year.
Now getting to a quick recap of the PK80 tourney
UNC ran through two inferior teams (although Arkansas is a better team than the final score shows) and ran into an absolute buzz saw in Michigan State. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen some of the horrid stats from that game in terms of shooting percentage and points and turnovers but basically it was just an absolute off night for everyone as will always be the case when only one player scores in double figures.
As for the other side of the bracket, Duke looks like an absolute force which kills me inside to say but if they have this many young kids contributing this early and still pulling out W’s in the last second manor which they did, it’s hard to say who is going to beat this team. The only upside for me in this situation is hopefully Marvin Bagley III will be a future Chicago Bull and turn around the franchise.
Also if you haven’t yet, you need to watch what happened in the Alabama v. Minnesota college hocke… err basketball game as after a kerfuffle (one of my favorite words ever and I will try to work into as many of these things as Chris allows me to write) the entire Bama bench was kicked out of the game, thus leaving only the 5 players who were on the court still eligible to play. Then a Bama player fouled out, and another was lost to a badly twisted ankle and you’re left with a 2 man advantage for 10+ minutes. All of this only went on to showcase Collin Sexton, Bama’s best player EVER (that’s not hyperbole, he really will be their best basketball player in program history). With Minnesota inexplicably not triple teaming Sexton, he and his two teammates went on a 30-22 run to finish out the game coming within 3 points in the final minutes to literally make the most unlikely comeback of all time almost complete.
And that will conclude my time with you all today. Hope you are at least not any dumber than when you started reading this. Thanks for stopping by.
Hey – Chris hopping on the mic here. North Carolina has two potentially sneaky tough games coming up against Michigan (Nov. 29) and @ Davidson (Dec. 1). Am I basing “sneaky tough” solely off Michigan was solid at the end of last year and Davidson once had Steph Curry? Yes. Tune in for some more Keith’s Carolina BBQ next week.