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UNC 87, Rutgers 48

Remember this score, every time you read about how the Big East is the strongest conference in the country. Remember that there are almost two Big East conferences, one full of all those Top 25 teams, and a second, shadow-conference of really bad basketball.

There's not much tha can be accomplished playing such a poor basketball team, and from all appearances, the Heels took this as an opportunity to practice their oft-maligned perimeter defense. From my foreshortened view of the court - the Rutgers game was my one and only trip to the Dean Dome for the year - the Scarlet Knights were in constant danger of being pressured into backcourt violations, with defenders meeting them at half court, and scooping up eight steals in the process. It was an impressive display, as Rutgers went 1-14 from behind the arc, though as a consequence Carolina gave up more scores on penetrating dribbles than many people were comfortable to see. (Even those were only mildly successful, thanks to Hansbrough and Wright in the paint, plus Rutgers' expectations of Big East style interior-contact that never materialized. The Scarlet Knights missed more than a few easy layups out of what looked to be fear of the defense.)

It was the second straight game with less than 70 possessions for the typically fast-paced Heels, and the end result was a strange game to watch. You never got the impression UNC was going on a strong run, even when they were - the lead just kept quietly expanding to ridiculous margins. Before you know it the crowd was heading to the exits, or giving standing ovations to Mike Copeland (2-2 in 2 minutes of play), or just mocking the GAA ads played on the large screens. ("It what you do?" Worst tagline ever. Even "It's not like we're going to stop sending you mail" would be more persuasive.)

Next up, an upgrade in the class of opponent, as 10-2 Dayton comes to town fresh off a 30-point loss to Pitt. Hopefully the folks still in line for the Park-and-Ride shuttles from last night brought their game tickets.