What If

1996-97 Wins What If Tournament Championship

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The one seed did it. We asked you to pick a winner between 1996-97 and 1983-84, and 152 of you made your voices heard. The 1996-97 What If Tar Heels claimed a 16-vote victory to win our What If Tar Heel Tournament. Dean Smith's group was too much for the competition from wire to wire. The top overall seed claimed a shutout victory over 1989-90 in Round 1, romped over Jordan and senior Worthy in Round 2, bested their younger counterparts in the Final Four and were too much for 1983-84 in the final. When the dust settled, we determined that a team with eight future NBA players (four of…

What If Tournament Championship

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It's come to this: Top-seeded 1996-97 vs. no. 3 1983-84 in the What If Tar Heel Tournament Championship. In the Final Four, 1996-97 defeated their junior counterparts, 1995-96, by a landslide. Your votes told us that experience counts, as the elders took 95 percent of the vote. In the second semifinal, 1983-84 was 22 votes better than 2005-06, as you told us that Dean Smith's team with a healthy Kenny Smith had what it takes to down the defending national champions. Again, we asked David Culp to weigh in on the championship game: The What If Tournament Championship game features a t…

What If Final Four

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We've whittled our What If Tar Heel Tournament from 17 teams down to the Final Four: 1996-97, 1995-96, 1983-84 and 2005-06. We asked David Culp to help us break down the matchups. Check out the capsules and be sure to vote in both games. Here's David's take on game on, 1996-97 vs. 1995-96:The first semi-final matchup features two teams that mirror each other.  Literally.  The top-seeded 1996-97 team will square off against their younger selves, the fifth-seeded 1995-96 team.  Other than the classes, the starting lineups are the same, and both teams are coached by Dean S…

What If Round Two Recap

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After three weeks of intense action, our What If Tar Heel Tournament has been whittled down to four teams. For the most part, the top seeds held serve, with one upset in the quarterfinal round. 3. 1983-84 vs. 11. 1998-99  A healthy Kenny Smith helps 1983-84 slip past Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison. The elder statesmen take more than three-quarters of the vote. 4. 2007-08 vs. 5. 1995-96 Slightly closer here. Our readers are big fans of the mid-90s teams. They take this one with 62% of your votes. 2. 2005-06 vs. 7. 2011-12 The most recent Tar Heel team can't keep it going to …

What If: 1996-97 vs. 1982-83

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The final quarterfinal matchup of our What If Tar Heel Tournament sees the top-seeded 1996-97 What If Tar Heels facing off against the defending national champions, 8th-seeded 1982-83. Seniors Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse and Jeff McInnis are joined by sophomores Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison. They face a senior James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Michael Jordan and Brad Daugherty. There's a lot of NBA talent in this one. 1996-97 What If Tar Heels Coach: Dean Smith Strengths: Athleticism, NBA starting 5, deep bench (Williams, Cota, Okulaja), PG rotation (McInnis and Cota) Weaknesses:…

What If: 2005-06 vs. 2011-12

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Today's game in the What If Tar Heel Tournament sees the second-seeded 2005-06 team take on our most recent team, seventh-seeded 2011-12. Remember, this is the What If Tournament, so everyone's healthy (McDonald, Strickland, Henson, Marshall on 2011-12) and everyone came back to school (Felton, May, McCants, Williams on 2005-06; Davis on 2011-12). Take a look at the team capsules and rosters and let us know who you think would come out on top. 2005-06 What If Tar Heels Coach: Roy Williams Strengths: Physical front line, winners (05/09 championship teams), deep bench (Marvin, Terry, …

What If: 2007-08 vs. 1995-96

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Our second second-round matchup is the always-attractive 4/5 pairing, with Stackhouse and Wallace joined by freshmen Carter and Jamison to take on Hansbrough, Lawson, Wright and Marvin Williams. 2007-08 What If Tar Heels Coach: Roy Williams Strengths: Versatile and athletic, deep bench (Frasor, Deon, B. Wright) Weaknesses: Roles? Is Marvin a true PF? Will Wright be OK coming off the bench? Will win the tournament if: Marvin can coexist with Hansbrough; Wright accepts sixth-man role Captain: Marvin This team in one word: Fast 1995-96 What If Tar Heels Coach: Dean Smith Stren…

What If: 1983-84 vs. 1998-99

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In our first second round matchup, the third-seeded 1983-84 What If Tar Heels take on 11th-seeded 1998-99, who engineered the only upset of the tournament's first round. This game pits Jordan and Perkins vs. Jamison and Carter, with a classic PG battle between The Jet and Easy Ed. 1983-84 What If Tar Heels Coach: Dean Smith Strengths: Starting five, versatility (effective both running and in the half court) Weaknesses: Shallow bench, backup PG (Peterson? Hale) Will win the tournament if: The Jet stays healthy and out of foul trouble, same with Perkins and Daugherty Will lose if: …

What If Week Two Recap

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Round one of the What If Tar Heel Tournament is in the books, and the eight teams standing set up some terrific contests over the next two weeks. 6. 2006-07 vs. 11. 1998-99 This one was an all-time classic, with these two teams separated by the thinnest of margins. The 2006-07 team led by two with time winding down in triple overtime. With Tyler Hansbrough and Marvin Williams collapsing on him, Antawn Jamison kicked out to Shammond Williams. Williams rose up for a jumper with four seconds to play, but Danny Green deflected the ball. A scramble ensued, but the ball found the hands of …

What If: 1996-97 vs. 1989-90

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It's the last game of the first round (we're not calling it the second round just because there was a play-in game), and today's matchup pits the top-seeded 1996-97 What If Tar Heels against the 16th-seeded 1989-90 team. Our no. 1 team is the What If group that's been talked about for more than 15 years. What if Jerry and Rasheed had stayed through their senior seasons and been joined by sophomores Jamison and Carter? That starting five has more than 15 NBA All-Star appearances combined. Add to that a junior Shammond Williams, a young Ed Cota, and big man Serge Zwikker on the bench, an…