My first college basketball article of the season for The Washington Post ---
You need to stage the game on a billion-dollar aircraft carrier: the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, the one that carried Osama Bin Laden’s body out to sea.
You need a top-ranked team that may have the best chance to go unbeaten since Indiana did it in 1976.
You need President Obama.
And of course you need Dick Vitale.
The only problem with Friday night’s much-ballyhooed “Carrier Classic” is that unless someone from Michigan State can figure out a way to heave all the basketballs overboard, the Spartans may have trouble staying on the court — and the ship — with North Carolina.
Yes, the Tar Heels are potentially that good.
Sometime this winter, North Carolina Coach Roy Williams needs to write a thank-you note to David Stern and Billy Hunter. The decision by the NBA commissioner and the head of the players’ union to go to war is one reason why it may be close to impossible to deny Ol’ Roy his third national title in eight seasons.
The Tar Heels had three underclassmen who were locks to be first-round picks last spring, led by then-freshman Harrison Barnes, who would have gone in the top three. Big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller, who both blossomed late last winter, might have been lottery picks, too.
But with everyone talking lockout, all three decided that one more year on a picturesque campus wasn’t such a bad thing. So they’re back in Chapel Hill, where they are joined by two freshmen who also might be first-round picks if and when the NBA holds another draft. One is 6-foot-9 James McAdoo, who some scouts rate ahead of Barnes as a pro prospect. The other is 6-5 shooting guard P.J. Hairston, who just happens to play the one position where North Carolina might need some help after a season-ending injury to sophomore Leslie McDonald.
My newest book is now available for pre-order: One on One-- Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game