No. 15 Tar Heels Embark on ACC Title Quest in Greensboro

By Matt Oakes Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

The No. 15 North Carolina basketball team will begin its quest for an 18th ACC Tournament title Friday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.

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Head Coach Roy Williams speaks on his March Madness mentality.

“I’m one of those guys that operate on dreams and goals. That’s what I do. I don’t operate on sorrow. I do have big-time dreams and goals all the time. At tournament time, that’s where you can reach those dreams. Be led by your dreams, not pushed by your problems. We’ve all got problems, but this time of year I think you should be really enthused about your hope – what you might be able to do,” Coach Williams says.

Before Carolina gets to the Big Dance, the ACC party beckons.

Coach Williams says there’s really no tried and true predictor when it comes to equating ACC tournament success with NCAA runs. But he does believe good preparation always helps.

“My teams have taken me to seven Final Fours, and we’ve run the conference tournament one time out of those seven. I don’t think there’s a great correlation between winning, but I do think there’s a great correlation between playing well – that you gained some confidence. I think playing well does help,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto says he thinks this nearly week-long break since the regular season finale at Duke, has allowed his teammates to get healthy and regain the winning mindset back.

“Our guys will be back healthy. Our mindset should be set back to where we want it to be,” Tokoto says.

The Tar Heels will certainly be gunning for a fast start in the quarterfinal round. UNC is a perfect 17-0 when leading at halftime this season.

Tokoto soars (Todd Melet)

Tokoto soars (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson has been playing well of late on both sides of the floor. He hopes to continue his upward trajectory this weekend in Greensboro.

But Johnson says the key for the Tar Heels to regain their ‘mojo’ begins and ends with defense.

“Just remember how we started it at the beginning of that winning streak. We were clicking on all cylinders. We have to remember how we did that. […] It starts on defense – everybody getting to the right spots and doing the right things,” Johnson says.

Carolina has been to the ACC Championship game a record 32 times. Number 33 on Sunday would definitely do wonders for UNC’s seeding on the NCAA Selection Show later that evening.

But it all starts with Friday’s quarterfinal round. The Tar Heels own a 41-12 overall record in that stage of the Tournament.

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