North Carolina preview capsule
Last season: 33-7, won program’s sixth NCAA championship.
Nickname: Tar Heels.
Coach: Roy Williams.
Conference: Atlantic Coast.
Who’s gone: SF Justin Jackson, F/C Kennedy Meeks, F Isaiah Hicks, F Tony Bradley Jr., G Nate Britt.
Who’s back: Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joel Berry II (14.7 points) returns at the point, though he could miss the start of the season after breaking a bone in his right hand. The Tar Heels return senior swingman Theo Pinson and junior wing guard Kenny Williams III, while March hero Luke Maye — who hit the last-second shot against Kentucky to send UNC to the Final Four — is the lone returnee up front.
Who’s new: The Tar Heels found experienced help in Pittsburgh graduate transfer Cameron Johnson to fill Jackson’s role on the wing. There’s also a freshman class led by guard Jalek Felton and includes size in Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley and Brandon Huffman.
The Skinny: The return of Berry and Pinson gives the Tar Heels toughness and leadership, and they can use plenty of combinations on the perimeter with a deep backcourt. The question is whether they can find reliable production inside considering their Hall of Fame coach prefers to have two big men and emphasizes rebounding. How the Tar Heels answer that will determine whether they have any chance to make it to the final Monday night in April for a third consecutive season.
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