The 2011-2012 edition of the North Carolina Tar Heels was a “National Championship or Bust” edition. With that much future NBA talent, there was simply no result other than a championship that would have been enough. Along the way, Dexter Strickland was lost to injury. Then John Henson went down. And just as Henson returned, Kendall Marshall suffered an injury and never returned. Without a key component of the offense, it is not surprising that Kansas defeated North Carolina on Sunday, 80-67.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was that Kansas out-rebounded North Carolina 39-30. With a frontcourt of Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson, the Tar Heels were used to putting up gaudy rebound totals. The trio combined for only 14 against Kansas. The Jayhawks had the size up front to hold their own and it helped take away a North Carolina strength.
James Michael McAdoo came off the bench to lead the Tar Heels with 15 points. Barnes added 13, while Zeller scored 12. Henson only scored 10 points. Ultimately, the big trip produced a disappointing total of 35 points and 14 rebounds–well off their season average of 48 and 25.
Notwithstanding the preseason hype, North Carolina still finished a respectable 32-6. While the fans and team hoped for more, it is hard to lose a key player in March. That North Carolina could not overcome that is not surprising. Disappointing, but not surprising.
With Syracuse and North Carolina losing, the Final Four of Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, and Kansas will not feature any ACC teams. For diehard ACC fans, Pittsburgh will play Washington State today in the CBI tournament.