The North Carolina Tar Heels entered the 2008-'09 basketball season as the clear cut favorites, just coasting along on their path to the first weekend in April. This years Tar Heel team doesn't have it so easy.
Roy Williams and company will enter the 2009-'10 season as the reigning national champions, and with that target on their back there will be plenty of teams looking to take a shot at the kings of college basketball.
North Carolina will be without four of their starting five players, posing many questions for coach Roy Williams to answer. That shouldn't be a hard task, as Roy has managed to produce the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the nation, along with Deon Thomson, Tyler Zeller, and Larry Drew all returning from their championship run.
An added bonus for Roy Williams is the return of senior Marcus Ginyard, a lock-down defender returning from a medical redshirt season last year. His experience and leadership will be needed to help guide a large group of young guys through one of the toughest basketball conferences in the country.
The 2009-'10 schedule was released last week and gives way to a daunting schedule, and that's before the hard pressed ACC play even begins. North Carolina will host Michigan State in what's been referred to a "National Championship Rematch" on December 1st, but will display a completely different Tar Heel team than the one that took the game over just a few months ago.
An exciting match-up awaits—following the Michigan State game—as the No. 2 recruiting class will head to Kentucky to take on the No.1 recruiting class in the country. This game will display a ton of explosive young talent as North Carolina's John Henson, Dexter Strickland, and Leslie McDonald will take on Kentucky's incoming sensations John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
This match-up will be one of the most exciting of the entire basketball season.
Although Roy Williams and company won't be riding into the season as the favorites to cut down the nets in Indianapolis, don't expect this to be your typical rebuilding year either. They have experienced leadership, and explosive freshman class, and a coach that knows how to win.
By the end of the season it shouldn't be surprising to see North Carolina on top of the ACC, and prepared to make a solid run in the NCAA tournament.