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North Carolina Tar Heels

1. Look Out.North Carolina enters the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and prohibitive favorite. Their path to the Final Four would start in Raleigh and move all the way to Charlotte. (Jim Boeheim on PTI Monday: "Does Carolina even need to get out of bed to advance?") They are peaking at the right time, with their ACC tournament championship capping a strong stretch in which the Heels won their final six ACC games by an average of 17.5 points. Point guard Ty Lawson is fresh, back from injury, and the rest of the team is as healthy as you can hope for. And Tyler Hansbrough is still, presumably, yelling at his muscles to "lift harder!" and, when they refuse, subjecting them to ping-pong punishment. Anything short of a Final Four berth would be something of a disappointment. Luckily, UNC will win the NCAA Tournament.

2. Blood Bracket. The bracket is set up for what would be two dream Final Four matchups for any blue-blooded Carolina fan. With Kansas #1 in the Midwest, UNC could face Roy Williams's old team in the semifinals, in an environment that surely will cause the dag-nabbed coach to, finally, give a shit. That's happened before; in 1991, Kansas beat UNC in the national semifinal; in 1993, UNC returned the favor. But looming as a possibility beyond that is the Holy Grail of college basketball What-Ifs, the ratings bonanza that might save CBS no matter how badly their fall series tank, the event that would cause Dick Vitale's tonsils to rip free from his throat and flee to Canada: a potential UNC-Duke matchup in the championship game. (Ed. Note: UNC-Duke is actually the Finals pick of this site's humble editor.) We can't even begin to express the amount of anxiety that would cause us, imagining Duke and its coach, Satan-Rat-Spawn, beating the Heels in the biggest game of their lives. Luckily, UNC will win the NCAA Tournament.


3. A Doherty Year. 2001-2002 was a great year for ACC schadenfreude, as the Heels went 8-20 under coach Matt Doherty and missed the tournament for the first time in 27 years. That disaster led my friends to coin the phrase "a Doherty year" to describe a period in your life when, in the midst of a long tradition of success, everything goes to shit, only to return fairly quickly to previous levels of quality. Our own personal Doherty year was 1995-1996. For Duke's lacrosse team, it was 2006. Queen Elizabeth's was 1992. It's possible that for Eliot Spitzer, it's 2008, or it's possible that things will never get better, making this less a Doherty year than a, say, Art Shell year. Matt Doherty's safely out at SMU these days, leading the Mustangs to a 10-20 record in his second year. Luckily for us, Roy Williams is our coach now, as we abandoned Matt Doherty like he was an Enron stock certificate dipped in herpes. Luckily, UNC will win the NCAA Tournament. — Dan Kois

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