Wouldn't that be funny after the 0-2 ACC start?
Back in early January, the media at large as well as many Tar Heel fans engaged in a freak out of epic proportions. The heavily favored Tar Heels were 0-2 in the ACC. Gone was the undefeated talk and according to some who were ready to crown Wake Forest the class of the ACC, gone was the possibility of the Heels winning the ACC regular season. Eight ACC games later the Heels sit atop the league having won every conference game since the early stumble. With six games left it is possible the Heels could end the regular season with a 15 game winning streak. Ken Pomeroy predicts UNC will be favored in each of the final six games but also says the odds point to a 13-3 finish when you account for those pesky factors the numbers cannot possibly consider. Here is what lies ahead.
2/15: at Miami(15-8 overall, 4-6 ACC)
Pomeroy Chances: UNC 68%
This has trap game written all over it. UNC coming off a big win, playing on the road will be ripe for a loss and considering this has been the trend in the ACC this season, UNC needs to be very careful. Wake fell victim to the letdown game twice, BC did after winning in Chapel Hill and Clemson also fell at home after blistering Duke. Miami actually played well after their big win versus Wake but lost at Duke in OT. Miami gave UNC plenty of fits during the game in Chapel Hill until Wayne Ellington heated up like a burrito in a microwave to bury the Hurricanes. In my opinion this game constitutes the biggest threat left on the schedule.
2/18: NC State(13-9 overall, 3-6 ACC)
Pomeroy Chances: UNC 96%
This should be a game of litte concern for the Heels. Obviously NCSU is not going to lay down and allow UNC to run all over them but given the way the last game ended I expect the Heels to drop the hammer pretty hard in this one. And if Miami manages to upset the Heels on Sunday, it will be a double helping of hammer dropping.
2/21: at Maryland(15-8 overall, 4-5 ACC)
Pomeroy Chances: UNC 84%
It's Maryland. It will be a 3:30 game on ABC. You do the math. I expect this will be a tougher game than most think but I also think the Heels have enough of a talent gap to win this one handily. It should be noted however that Maryland has a better ACC record right now than Miami does. The Terps should not be taken lightly.
2/28: Georgia Tech
Pomeroy Chances: UNC 97%
The only question here is if Tyler Hansbrough wants to go out and drop 40 on the Yellow Jackets again. I would venture to say this is the easiest game left on the schedule but by "easiest" I mean UNC could still lose the game if they fail to show up.
3/4: at Virginia Tech
Pomeroy Chances: UNC 84%
I am surprised Pomeroy has it at 84%. This will be a tough game and also is a trap game. The Heels will have Duke in Chapel Hill four days later and if UNC is sitting at 12-2 with a clear path to the regular season it is possible they drop this one against an inspired performance from the Hokies. Seth Greenberg had his team ready to play in the ACC Semifinals after a beatdown during the regular season. This game should be much the same as the Heels' ACC Tournament win.
Pomeroy Chances: UNC 71%
I would worry about this game for no other reason than the emotions of Senior Day and Duke hoping to exact vengence for spoiled Senior Days of Blue Devils past make this a difficult game. Of course it may also be a worthless game where the ACC standings are concerned if the Heels take care of business heading into this one.
If I had to guess right now, 13-3 sounds right and the ACC may well be decided by the time the Heels go to Blacksburg. I hink Duke will lose at least one more before seeing the Heels again and since UNC owns the tiebreaker on Clemson, they can afford a loss. That is assuming Clemson wins out, by no means is that even close to being guaranteed. It is possible the Heels can stake as much as a two game lead over the rest of the ACC and if they finish 14-2 they could be up a full three games by season's end. I think 2nd place is 12-4 this season. Clemson is the most likely candidate in my mind to end up there. All the Heels can do is to continue to ramp up their play so they can throw it into overdrive once the postseason starts.