Yet when pressed, many of those same pundits ultimately have UNC winning it all.
And there seems to be no argument who is the best individual performer remaining in the field – Sean May, whose 29 points and 12 rebounds in the Tar Heels' 88-82 win over Wisconsin on Sunday made him the easy MVP pick for the Regional All-Tournament team. Although the actual details of May's offseason workout regimen have been chidingly challenged at times by Roy Williams, the results of his hard work are unquestionable.
"He's made plays this year he would have never been able to make last year," Roy Williams said.
It's not completely unfair to deem the Tar Heels' survive and advance-type wins in Syracuse unsettling, especially considering the manner of ease in which they dismissed the majority of their opponents this season.
But attempting to draw too much inference from what occurred last weekend – while undoubtedly the most exciting in college basketball history – would not be prudent. After all, what these critics are arguing is that the Tar Heels' best game is yet to come. Also, by no means has Carolina's most recognizable players – May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants – been disappointing. The "Big Three" were instrumental in both wins, combining for 99 points, 45 rebounds and 20 assists; against Top 20 teams which made slowing down the Tar Heels their ultimate objective.
"Both were grind it out kind of affairs, and you have to be able to step up your game," Roy Williams said. "I think they did that."
So cheer up fans; while they may not have blown out the Wildcats and Badgers like many expected, that doesn't mean the Tar Heels won't be able to "click" when it counts. There has been a lot of talk about the other three teams being "on a mission," yet Carolina has had its goal set on an NCAA title since well before the season began.
"When we were 8-20, nobody really cared about us," Jawad Williams said. "Today, we can't even walk down Franklin Street to get something to eat."
Look for the Tar Heels to be hungrier than ever Saturday night when they face Michigan State. The objective is clear.
There remains just one lamp to light in this memorable season and UNC is in an optimal position to win it all. What more do you want?
Don't believe the anti-hype when it comes to the Tar Heels' chances. They're right where they want to be, everything is falling right into place – as was expected.