Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, January 10th, 7:45 PM
TV: Fox Sports South
Live Stats: SCACC Hoops
Records: UNC 11-4, 0-0 ACC; VPI 12-1, 0-0 ACC
The dangers of ACC play have already been on full display this weekend with Duke dropping a game in Atlanta to Georgia Tech and NCSU finding a way to lose at home to Virginia. Conference play means pretty much anything can happen. With UNC that is magnified given the various issues we have seen this season plus the injures.
UNC enters the season opener against Virginia Tech without Marcus Ginyard. Will Graves and Leslie McDonald are questionable. Now would not be the best time to have injuries in the backcourt but it is what it is. The hope is that Dexter Strickland and Larry Drew locate a bottle of whatever it was they drunk prior to the Michigan St game. That game stands as the only glimpse we have had of what this team could be if all the cylinders are firing. Unfortunately we have not seen much of that team since then, especially against quality competition.
Virginia Tech is a team that, as of late, knows how to play UNC tough. The Hokies have enough balance to give UNC issues, even if PG Malcolm Delaney does not play. The Hokies general struggle to win games they are supposed to win prior to the conference slate which has always left them fighting for an NCAA berth later on. That has not been the case this season with VPI off to a 12-1 start and coming off an impressive win over Seton Hall. Dorenzo Hudson scored 41 in the OT win. Delaney missed that game and watching it I was immediately seized with trepidation at the thought of this guard playing against UNC given his ability to drop that many points. Making certain that does not happen will be a tough assignment for the UNC perimeter players, especially with Ginyard which hurts the depth at guard.
Still, playing at home cures a variety of ills. UNC needs to purge the bad taste from the College of Charleston loss. Despite the fact Virginia Tech is a tough opponent, I think UNC will take the opportunity in this game and four of the first six ACC games at home to right the ship a little bit. Given the troubles on the road, dropping a home game is not really an option.
UNC 77 VT 71