I've watched 3-4 UNC games this year, and, even as a dyed-in-the-wool Jayhawk, I can say that they are very good. They're doing more with the talent that they've always had, and their bench is certainly helping them significantly. They're looking a lot like a later Roy Williams team - fast and fluid, capable of running most teams out of the gym.
And they may do that. They may have more talent than anyone else in the country.
But talent alone doesn't win championships.
But as the Tarheels will discover this year, there will be games when things simply don't go their way. Maybe one of their best post players separates his shoulder. Maybe they shoot 8 for 20 from the free throw line. Maybe some scrawny freshman lights them up for 6 threes in a half in the championship game.
Maybe a crotchety old coach from El Paso slows the game down to a snail's pace. Maybe Jim Harrick coaches Rhode Island again. Maybe they play an undermatched Virginia team in Charlotte in front of 15,000 of their fans, only to go home disappointed.
Roy has always coached well in the mid-season - that's how his teams average 28 wins a season. But he's also very entrenched in his way of coaching, and his inflexibility is risky.
The games lost by the well-oiled KU machine were invariably those muddy, dirty tournament games when KU was forced more often than not into either making serious defensive adjustments (i.e. doing anything to stop Gerry Macnamara) or being forced into a slow and dirty game (UTEP comes to mind, certainly Illinois).
This could be UNC's year, but then again, it just as easily could not.
When comparing Bill Self to Roy, it doesn't make sense to say X is a better coach or Y is a better coach. 'Better' is too subjective.
But I can tell you this. Nine out of ten Jayhawk fans I know, if we were tied 52-52 with six minutes to go in the NCAA championship game, would rather have a calm and collected Bill Self at the helm than a nervous, crouched, sweating Roy Williams.
I never got this until after Syracuse in 2003. I never bought the notion that a coach who bore the pressure of winning a championship so heavily could transfer said pressure to his players, but now I can't see another explanation.
Roy may behave differently - maybe he's more relaxed in his native environs and maybe this UNC team will be battle tested enough in its run through the ACC. But giving UNC everything I can - calling them the most talented team in the land, watching them go undefeatd in the ACC, watching them trounce their first two opponents in the Tourney - I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them have to fight with everything they've got to survive if the finely tuned sports car that is UNC encounters the muddy uneven ground of the sweet sixteen.
They are looking great, but beware the ides of March.