UNC Tar Heels Aren't an NCAA Tournament Team With or Without Cole Anthony

Cole Anthony won't be able to save UNC's season
Cole Anthony won't be able to save UNC's season / Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

UNC might only be ten games into their season, but it's already been made clear by their lackluster performances that they're nowhere near an NCAA Tournament team, with or without hobbled star freshman Cole Anthony.

After their shocking (but not that shocking, if you watch the Heels) 68-64 loss to unseeded Wofford, the No. 17 Tar Heels are primed to perhaps drop out of the Top 25 completely; even if they don't, Roy Williams is going to need to make some major changes if his team wants to go dancing deep into March.

Or into March in any capacity.

Sunday's game marked UNC's fourth loss in the last five games, and while their previous four-game stretch coming into the Wofford matchup was admittedly tough, there's really no excuse for dropping a game to the Terriers in a ceremonial game on campus at Carmichael Arena.

To make matters even worse, it was announced earlier today that Anthony, the team leader in scoring with 19.1 points per game, will be out indefinitely due to a right knee injury. It's feared to be significant. Leaky Black is game-to-game. Armando Bacot is back from a fearsome rolled ankle, but obviously isn't all the way back. Sterling Manley is out for the season. This undermanned team is disappearing before our eyes.

That leaves forwards Garrison Brooks and Bacot as the Tar Heels' leading scorers, and neither of them are averaging over 12 points per game.

It's not even funny anymore: if Anthony doesn't return by mid-January and the team isn't able to effectively pick up the slack, it might be difficult to justify their inclusion in the NCAA Tournament. To make matters even worse, they face off against No. 6 Gonzaga this Wednesday, meaning that things will probably get even worse before they get better.

The Tar Heels don't face a currently-ranked team again until February, meaning that they'll have ten games to really shape up before their schedule heats up again. But without Anthony, there's not much to like here. And with Anthony, it's not clear if high-profile transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce have what it takes to compete at this level, and most of the role players (Brandon Robinson and Andrew Platek) who've been promoted after the graduation of the team's leading scorers, haven't found any sort of rhythm, either. Even with Anthony, there may be too big a talent gap to make up in Chapel Hill.