As the defending national champions in college basketball, the North Carolina Tar Heels enter this season as the ninth-ranked team in the preseason poll.
While they look to defend their championship this season, the team is expected to be without star player Joel Berry II for the next four weeks after it was announced that he broke his right hand punching a door after losing in a video game.
The Tar Heels open up the regular season on Nov. 10 so it’s unclear exactly how many games Berry will miss. Berry’s absence from the lineup will be a critical loss as he was the team’s second-leading scorer last season. He’s expected to be the team’s leader this season and he was even called the most important player in college basketball by ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg on Dan Dakich’s Courtside podcast.
Berry turned in his best season last year after averaging 14.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds. He was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player after scoring 22 points against Gonzaga in the Championship game.
Assuming there are no setbacks in his recovery, the Tar Heels may not be without Berry for all that long. The team’s non-conference schedule doesn’t appear to be that difficult on paper so the team may fare well without Berry in the interim as conference play in the ACC doesn’t begin until December 30 against Wake Forest.