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UNC's Slow Starts Under Roy Williams

Early winning streaks are a bit rarer these days for the Tar Heels.

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Nov 21, 2015; Cedar Falls, IA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) is defended by Northern Iowa Panthers guard Wes Washpun (11) during the second half at McLeod Center. Northern Iowa won 71-67
Nov 21, 2015; Cedar Falls, IA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) is defended by Northern Iowa Panthers guard Wes Washpun (11) during the second half at McLeod Center. Northern Iowa won 71-67
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no question North Carolina started the season at a distinct disadvantage, as Marcus Paige, its best player, has been sidelined with a broken hand.

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Back in 2012, when he lost Kendall Marshall to a broken wrist against Creighton in the NCAAs, then had to rely on a ragged assortment of subs at point, coach Roy Williams vowed not to be caught short again at that position. So even without Paige he’s been able to rely on a pair of competent playmakers, the B-Twos, Nate Britt II and Joel Berry II.

Except the Twos didn’t play well enough to lead UNC to victory the other day at Northern Iowa. The top-ranked Tar Heels fell to 3-1 on the year, the third consecutive season they won no more than three times before incurring their initial defeat.

In fact, since winning the 2009 NCAA title, Williams’ teams haven’t opened particularly well. Only once in the past seven years, this one included, have they run off even five wins to start a season. That was in 2012.

Since 2010 Carolina has won a combined 23 games before being derailed across all seven intervening seasons. Just to try one comparison, Duke in those years has posted 60 victories before incurring its first defeats, including double-digit winning streaks in 2011, 2013, and 2015. Only twice in seven years did the Blue Devils open with fewer than six wins.

Incidentally, the only time a UNC team under Williams started a season with a loss was in 2004-05, when it went on to win the NCAA championship. As was true this year, those Heels operated with an unfortunate handicap -- starting point guard Raymond Felton was sidelined against Santa Clara.

NOT SO WELL HEELED
Wins to Start UNC Season Under Roy Williams
Season W Prior to First L
2016 3
2015 3
2014 2
2013 4
2012 5
2011 2
2010 4
2009 13
2008 18
2007 3
2006 3
2005 0
2004 6