The North Carolina Tar heels long flight to Hawaii will answer a lot of early questions about the upcoming season.
First up on the schedule will be a matchup with the Hawaii Rainbows, an early test after the long flight off the mainland.
The Tar heels have been able to keep up a frenetic pace on offense so far this season. UNC has nearly cracked triple digits in all three wins early this year, led by Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson.
Berry has been the engine of the attack so far this season. The Apopka, Florida native is averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists so far this campaign, and has taken more of a leadership role already.
“Coach stresses defense, and wanting to run,” the junior point guard said. “We’re trying to do that now, and we’re doing a great job with it, but we can also get better at it.”
The Tar heels will have to be better at everything once The Maui Invitational tips off. After the opening matchup against tournament host Chaminade the sledding will get much tougher for Carolina. UConn and Oklahoma State await the Heels in the second round, while top-10 teams Oregon and Wisconsin are on the other side of the bracket.
A potential Oregon-North Carolina matchup for the Maui title would be an early holiday treat for college hoops fans everywhere, as both teams like an up-tempo pace and feature plenty of athletic playmakers.
If Roy Williams’ team runs into the Wisconsin Badgers, it will be a grinder. Wisconsin has the athletes to run with UNC, but can wear opponents out. The Badger’s aggressive defense could prove to be a real test for a Carolina team that thrives off of turnovers and the easy buckets that they provide.
UNC fans have wondered all offseason if there would be any hangover from the brutal loss to Villanova in the National Championship last April. The business trip to Hawaii will show the players, coaches, and fans alike what kind of UNC team we can expect to see when Tobacco Road fires up this winter.