“Our kids have been doing some really nice things in practice, we just haven’t taken it from the practice court to the game court,” UNC coach Roy Williams said Thursday night. “When you play basketball at North Carolina, people expect a lot from you. I’ve got some really good kids that are hurting right now and they are also feeling a little stressed. There’s no question about that.”
The Tar Heels are replacing four NBA first-round draft picks from last year’s team, which has put a bigger burden on 6-foot-9 sophomore James Michael McAdoo. But he’s struggling with the transition to a leading role after returning to school instead of entering the NBA draft.
In addition, the Tar Heels’ four freshmen aren’t making big contributions and two veterans — Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald — are returning from knee injuries that cost them some or all of last year.
In the Bluegrass State, the Wildcats (10-4) started at No. 3 despite losing six players to the NBA draft from last year’s national championship team, including No. 1 pick Anthony Davis and No. 2 pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But the Wildcats fell to No. 8 after an early loss to Duke then slid out of the rankings after consecutive losses to Notre Dame and Baylor in which they failed to score 60 points.