As the North Carolina Tar Heels get started on the 2012-13 NCAA basketball season, they find themselves in an uncommon place among the polls. The Associated Press Preseason Poll debuts them at number 11 and the USA Today Coaches' Poll has them at number 12. These rankings are not what North Carolina fans are accustomed to in recent years, but they are certainly accurate. There are too many uncertainties to put them any higher and some might even argue that they should be a bit lower. As a huge Tar Heels fan myself, I am glad to see them ranked in the middle of the upper tier. Here are some reasons why:
No pressure boys
With the Heels sitting in the position they are in, they will not get the pressure that media and fans would put upon them with a higher ranking. While most schools would kill for a number 11 national ranking, the Heels are used to much loftier positions. This ranking will keep the Heels nice and humble, and that is exactly where they need to be.
The underdog syndrome
When the Tar Heels feel like their pride is wounded, they play much better traditionally. An us versus the world mentality can be a powerful thing. This is particularly true for a young club like the Tar Heels. They need every edge they can get and Roy will use them all. Playing as the underdog on occasion will be very good for them and it will help to keep their priorities straight early in the season.
The ranking is accurate
For all the great reasons for the ranking, the most basic one is that it is spot on. In fact, there are several things that could happen that would make them even lower on the polls. It is really going to depend on how well the freshmen blend in and how well the team buys into Roy's defensive ideas. If they get some pride in their defense and build the team around pressure, then they can be as good as they want to be. If not, then it could end up being a long season in Chapel Hill.
Although I have my reservations about this team, I am also extremely excited about the potential. With some incredibly talented guards and some solid young stars coming in, there is absolutely no reason the Tar Heels can't contend and become national powers all over again.
*Southern is a huge North Carolina Tar Heels fan that has followed the team since the Bob McAdoo days. While he still thinks that Dean Smith is the closest thing to college basketball coaching perfection, he thinks Roy Williams is doing a mighty fine job as well. Go Heels!
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