5 bold predictions for North Carolina basketball's 2021-22 season
North Carolina’s 2021-22 season tips off on Tuesday night as the Tar Heels host Loyola (MD).
This will be the first game of the Hubert Davis era, who is taking over for UNC legend Roy Williams this season. Expectations are measured for Davis’ first year, but the Tar Heels are hoping for big things this season.
North Carolina has a roster good enough to accomplish all of its goals. There’s returners like Caleb Love and Armando Bacot, plus key transfer additions like Brady Manek and Dawson Garcia.
Here’s 5 bold predictions for North Carolina’s 2021-22 season:
1. Caleb Love will exceed expectations.
The former 5-star struggled for most of his freshman campaign, but look for a big bounce-back season from him. Love has the athleticism and scoring ability to be one of the most impactful players in the ACC. The Tar Heels should be much-improved from beyond the arc this season, which will give Love more space to operate in the half court. Don’t be surprised if he’s back in the NBA Draft conversation by the end of the season.
2. Brady Manek and Dawson Garcia will be two of the most impactful transfers in the country
Manek and Garcia transferred in this season from Oklahoma and Marquette, respectively. Both players give North Carolina an element of size and shooting that it lacked last season. Manek is one of the most decorated 3-point shooters in Oklahoma history. Garcia will also space the floor as he hit 35.6 percent of his long-range attempts at Marquette as a freshman. Their versatility on the offense end should give opposing defenses fits all season long.
3. Armando Bacot will be All-ACC
Bacot is perhaps North Carolina’s most accomplished player in a Tar Heels uniform entering this season. After splitting time with bigs like Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe last season, Bacot should have a much bigger role this year. He could easily average 15 points and 10 rebounds per game if he sees a marginal uptick in minutes.
4. Hubert Davis will win ACC Coach of the Year
Coach of the year honors often go to a coach who exceeds expectations the most. Hubert Davis should be in position to do that, having built a roster of high-pedigree players who fit together well on the court. The Tar Heels are No. 40 in KenPom’s preseason projections — that’s No. 6 in the ACC. They should have no issues surpassing that benchmark if Davis’ system works like it should in Year 1.
5. North Carolina will win the ACC Tournament
North Carolina has a roster that’s built for the postseason. The Tar Heels have plenty of shooting, ball handling and rim protection. Defense on the wings could get tricky that’s a problem they can overcome. This team should be able to generate enough open shots to be a problem in the ACC Tournament. If their shooters got hot in March, look out.