This is the term used by John Gasaway to describe UNC in his most recent article at Basketball Prospectus concerning efficiency margins.
North Carolina, Conversely, Is Just Plain Scary
The Tar Heels have shown an ability that might be even more frightening to opponents than the earthling Jayhawks’ mere “offense” and “defense.” Roy Williams has a team that’s proven it can win while taking on different personalities. They’ve had to. Carolina did without point guard Ty Lawson for the better part of seven games in the heart of their season. The fact that Lawson’s absence put more of a dent in UNC’s per-possession numbers on offense than it did in their won-loss record speaks volumes. Without Lawson, Carolina’s scoring per possession dipped significantly but their efficiency margin experienced only the tiniest decline, thanks to a defense that picked up the slack. True, a negative read of the same facts would be that UNC plays better defense without Lawson. However, I think recent history suggests a different spin.
Like North Carolina this year, Florida last year was very good but certainly not preeminent in terms of EM. The Gators had kind of a movable dominance: I couldn’t have told you before the tournament last year how Billy Donovan’s team would excel, exactly, but everyone just assumed they would. (I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated that a team blessed with Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer would shoot, and make, a flurry of threes in their six tournament games.) By necessity, Carolina this year has shown that same kind of flexible hegemony: the Heels will simply do what it takes. No, they’re not the defending national champions, but sometimes they act like they are. I mean that in a good way–they have the proverbial swagger.
While I thought Gasaway was wrong about Love over Hansbrough and the stat heads at BP have produced some odd stats and rankings this season, this blurb here is a fairly accurate look at the Heels. It should be noted that what he describes here, this innate ability to simply win games regardless of the circumstances or adversity can in no way be quantified with numbers. The way this Tar Heel team carves out wins renders almost any odds you would attempt to place on them in the NCAA Tournament nearly worthless. Odds like the 4% chance Ken Pomeroy is giving UNC for winning the title this season.
Gasaway is calling it swagger but given the fact the loss to Georgetown last season has been the major motivating factor since I think it is more than swagger being shown by the Heels, I think it is the hunger for redemption. There is an insatiable desire among the players on this team to never, ever allow what happened against Georgetown to happen again this season. For the most part it has worked save the losses to Maryland and Duke. Outside of those this team simply cannot be counted out of any game. They have too many weapons and too much flat out will to go down without exhausting every last ounce of effort in an attempt to win the game.
I know I am biased when I say this, but from my perspective there is no other team in the country that brings this kind of attitude to the floor.