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The Conversation with Carolina March

Last week I asked for your questions to send to our colleagues at Carolina March, the SBNation Tarheels site, about our upcoming game. Thank you for all who contributed.

He has written some excellent pieces about the Tarheels this year, so I encourage you to check out their site.

The Game thread and preview will be posted tomorrow.

Here are the responses to your questions unedited. Discuss away and enjoy.

Go Noles.

I know UNC is just absolutely loaded with talent at every positon, but one
player stands out to me EVERY game….Danny Green.
I'd argue that he is UNC's best AND most important player.
Do UNC fans see it this way?

It's interesting; Green dalliance with the draft last year was the
biggest April surprise, and few thought he stood much of a chance, but
he's really learned from it and turned it on this season. I don't know
if he's the best - Hansbrough aside, you really have to consider
Lawson, who has just amazing speed and ball-handling skills - but he
might have the greatest success in the NBA, between his size, talent
and work ethic. There have been games this year where he's
single-handedly kept the team in it for stretches while the rest of
the guards falter, so you can't downplay his importance, at least.

How do the UNC people feel about the Duke game this year?

The only thing better than beating Duke when they're number one is
beating Duke when we're number one. Actually, beating Duke is
incredibly satisfying all around.

Do UNC fans believe Tyler Hansbrough will be an elite NBA player, or just
one of the best college players ever?

Most of what I hear tends towards "just one of the best college
players." It doesn't help that the player he most often is compared to
Eric Montross, who had a long but uneventful NBA career. That being
said, it's tough to judge these things until you see him play against
sustained NBA competition, so he could grow into an Antawn Jamison
level leader before it's all said and done.

UNC has an incredible amount of talent. But it seems like they've played
soft early in the ACC season. Does it concern you that this will be another
highly talented flop come tourney time, or do you think they'll turn it on
in the big dance?

They had two rough games, but have turned it on in the last three with
Ellingtons resurgence and everyone buckling down. I don't think a
tourney flop is in the cards, and a loss in the tournament with this
level of experience should come in a tight, well-fought game and not
the late collapse against Georgetown in '07 or the complete
flat-footed start against Kansas last year.

What do you think this team's weakness is and how have or can other teams
exploit it?

This Carolina team has always had trouble running a set offense,
especially when Hansbrough is doubled on or otherwise denied the ball.
A couple of hot perimeter shooters on their opponents side coupled
with careful play that denies the Heels fast break opportunities and a
swarming defense seems to be the recipe to beat UNC this season.

What does the recruiting class have in store for 2009?

They're pretty much the consensus number one class in the country. You
never know how everyone will play at the next level, and I try my
damnedest to not spend any time thinking about high school basketball,
but a season similar to that of the year following the last national
championship seems like a pretty good baseline.

For a perennial power house like UNC, what do early season losses mean when
it come to tournament seeding? Does it make any difference at all?

I lived through the 1997 season, when UNC lost their first three
conference games and finished with a number one seed, so the flip
answer is it really doesn't. The ACC has three teams that have already
been number one in the nation; if Carolina splits its games with Duke
and wins the conference tourney, they'll be an easy one-seed even with
four or five losses. If they don't, everyone will point to a poor
performance in Goergia or losses down the stretch that knocked them
down a few notches. Whoever finishes strongest in this conference will
be able to write their own ticket come Selection Sunday.

Is this team living up to expectations?

Depends on the expectations. Some of them were pretty outlandish -
first undefeated team since Indiana '76, etc... - so no, those aren't
being lived up to. The more reasonable ones, i.e. an incremental
improvement on last year seem, to be well in hand, with the big
question mark being the continued absence of Marcus Ginyard. With him
at full speed this team would be close to unstoppable.