North Carolina

The Acc

November 18, 2005|By PAUL MCMULLEN

Coach: Roy Williams, third season at school (52-15), 18th overall (470-116)

2004-05 record: 33-4, 14-2 (first in ACC; NCAA champion)

Returning starters: None

Sun prediction: NIT

Why it will happen: The last time the NCAA champion didn't return to the NCAA field was 1987, when Louisville couldn't rebound. Williams had the most gifted team in the nation, but the personnel losses went beyond the NBA first-round foursome, to guys like Jawad Williams and Melvin Scott. What's left is the most inexperienced team in Tar Heels history. The top returning player is David Noel, a former walk-on who averaged 3.9 points and 16.9 minutes. Sophomore guard Quentin Thomas had more turnovers than assists as a freshman. Reyshawn Terry, a 6-8 junior, is being counted on at one wing, despite playing just 143 minutes last season.

Why it might not: Duke's freshman class has received more publicity, but Williams has not gotten to five Final Fours by recruiting question marks. Point guard Bobby Frasor, wing Danny Green and 6-9 forward Tyler Hansbrough were McDonald's All-Americans. Hansbrough plays with a load of passion, which will come in handy. There are no expectations, and Williams says he's going to give his players plenty of freedom.

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