Heel Tough Blog: 2022-2023 Season Crystal Ball
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
Scrolling through Twitter and speaking with our Carolina brethren, we’ve all heard the phrase "Redemption 2.0" when it comes to this season. I too have caught myself fantasizing about the Heels cutting down the nets in Houston. April is far away, however, and we need to focus on the task in front of us. For this article, let's take off the Carolina blue glasses, look through the crystal ball, and I’ll tell you how I see this season going. I’ll break down the season into three parts and show you how I see this season shaping up for the 2022-23 Tar Heels.
Part 1: The Journey Begins
November 7th-December 21st
Losses: @Indiana, Ohio State
Big wins: Villanova, Alabama, Michigan
Hubert Davis comes back in his second year as head coach following one of the best first years you can ask for. Going through so much with the team last year will help him get even better as a coach this year. As we know, four of the Iron Five return this year. With the addition of Pete Nance to fill the Manek role. Bacot returns with national player of the year aspirations. Leaky will be on people like white on rice. Love and Davis will take and make big shots. The Heels will also come in with added depth in Puff Johnson, Dontrez Styles, Justin McCoy, and a slew of freshmen looking to make their mark. I would keep an eye on Tyler Nickel and Seth Trimble specifically. With the roster as talented and deep as it is, I see the Heels rolling through this part of their season, winning the Phil Knight Invitational by getting big wins over Villanova and Alabama. However, there will be a slip up at Indiana and in New York against Ohio State. I foresee the Tar Heels at being up at some point in both of these games but giving up leads down the stretch.
Part 2: The Dog Days
December 21st-March 4th
Big Wins: Duke, @Virginia, Miami
Losses: Virginia, Notre Dame, @Duke
The Tar Heels will enter the meat of their ACC schedule ranked somewhere around 10th in the country. Armando Bacot will be doing what he does and having a National Player of the Year type season. The starting five will be playing as expected. However, there will still be questions to answer. Can they close games when they have a lead? Which one of the freshman or veteran bench players will step up to be the 6th man? I predict this to be Tyler Nickel. He will give the Tar Heels much needed shooting when RJ Davis and Caleb Love’s shots aren’t falling. Pete Nance will be able to slide into the center spot to give Bacot breaks. Seth Trimble will come in to help with ball handling duty for Davis and Love. The questions and concerns we have about the team will be answered with this conference schedule that they will face. The Tar Heels will be mostly dominant, but they do have a few toss-up games. In these games, I see shots from the outside not falling and the offense becoming a bit stagnant, especially against Virginia’s defense. I also see the Tar Heels drop a head scratcher at home to Notre Dame, which will be at 11:30am on a Saturday, something that could be a factor. They will pick up ranked wins which will include beating Miami at home and the season finale against Duke.
Part 3: Redemption 2.0?
March 4th-April 3rd
With the roster fully solidified with Tyler Nickel as the 6th man, Johnson, Styles, and other freshmen providing valuable minutes, the Tar Heels are ready for the postseason. The Heels will enter the ACC tournament as a top-four seed and receive a two round bye. The first two games will be relatively easy wins, but the Heels will fall in the ACC championship game. (Interesting fact: the Tar Heels have not won a conference tournament and the national championship in the same year since 1982).
The Heels will enter the NCAA tournament as either the last two seed or the first three seed. With all of the experience that was gained from last year, the first three rounds will be nothing to worry about. I foresee Carolina’s toughest matchup being in the Elite Eight against the 1 seed in their region. The Tar Heels will return to the Final Four in Houston, fulfilling a goal but still yearning to reach the mountain top. Their depth and experience will be too much for any team to handle in the Final Four. The games will be double digit wins with the offense clicking on all cylinders and Leaky Black's defense taking away each team's best player. Redemption 2.0 has happened and Hubert Davis cuts down the nets, solidifying his arrival as the next great Tar Heel coach for decades to come.