Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 12/28/12
January isnt here yet, but North Carolina may already be in resume-watching mode. Tar Heels supporters have generally viewed the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) with respect to North Carolina's worthiness for a No. 1, 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Forget the stress of being on the NCAA fence. But with just one nonconference game remaining before UNC dives into a new 18-game ACC format, Roy Williams team has done little to build its resume. And if the unranked Heels cant beat No. 20 UNLV on Saturday at the Dean Dome, it must use conference play to make its case for inclusion come March. Asked Friday if its too early to worry about tournament resumes, Williams told the media, Its not for you guys, but it is for us. Honestly, has Williams ever been asked about the tournament so early in a season before? Only two of his teams have failed to qualify. His first Kansas squad was on probation and the 2010 Tar Heels were decimated by injuries and barely missed out. Otherwise, the Hall of Fame coach's other 22 teams have made the field and won at least one game. The Tar Heels (9-3) can all but shelve this topic by taking care of the Rebels, who upset Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes and company a year ago. But that game was in Las Vegas and the Heels may have been caught off guard. This game is a big deal, and one UNC cant afford to lose. Its defeats have been by a combined 53 points, but North Carolina trailed by 29 and 31, respectively, to Butler and Indiana, and by 21 at Texas. A lack of a true post game is one issue, but more than that a lack of consistency on defense and struggles at point guard were grossly exposed during those routs. Butler, Indiana and Texas combined to convert 26 of 62 3-pointers (42 percent) because the Heels struggled staying on shooters. Problems getting over screens, communicating, and a lack of intensity were components triggering the struggles. All were a point of emphasis coming off the loss to the Longhorns before last Saturdays 34-point drubbing of McNeese State. Picking up the intensity on defense was the main thing, said sophomore wing P.J. Hairston. We werent playing with a sense of urgency at Texas, and Texas basically converted on all of our mistakes... We wanted to pick up intensity on defense and I think we did that. North Carolina may be the top assist team in the nation, averaging 20.1 per contest, but thats because many have come on general swing passes for 3-pointers, the team has been rather unselfish and because of open-court scoring opportunities. The half-court offense has been littered with problems because freshman point guard Marcus Paige has not performed as expected. The fourth-rated point guard in the class of 2012, Paiges desire for perfection has hampered his overall game. I like to get things right, and when I first learned the system I started to get the system down then I tried to run it exactly the right way every time, but I started to stop being a basketball player, Paige said. At the same time, you have to make basketball plays, you cant come down to the same spot every time and try to run the same play every time. (Coach Williams) wants me to run the system but be Marcus Paige and be who (I am) as a player. Paige had 39 assists and 28 turnovers on the season prior to the McNeese game. But against the Cowboys, he handed out nine assists with no giveaways. Instead of running the offense through all of the options, and if nothing opened finding himself standing in the corner almost playing spectator, Paige was a different player, one his teammates knew would surface at some point. Marcus is going to be good for us, said junior Reggie Bulock, the teams second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per game. I just knew the main thing with him is settling down. Hes a freshman and still has a lot more time. In UNCs losses, the Tar Heels have amassed 32 assists against 45 turnovers. In their wins the numbers are 209 and 129. So the importance of Paige and senior Dexter Strickland - who leads the team with 57 assists but wont before long if things go as Williams plans coupled with more intensity and communication on defense could make March life as usual for UNC fans. That process begins Saturday against UNLV. Rarely has North Carolina played such a big game in December.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NBA players to fund health insurance for former players

Report: Geno Smith 'intent' on beating out Ryan Fitzpatrick

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker