Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Tuesday, December 28th, 9:00 PM
Records: UNC 8-4; Rutgers 9-2
Since we still operate with a "take nothing for granted" view on UNC basketball, I am not taking this one for granted. After all, Rutgers is 9-2 with wins over Miami and Auburn but losses to Princeton and St. Joseph's. Plus, I have no idea what a week off without the normal game routine and the added travel issues might throw this team out of kilter. Such is the nature of the present team.
That being the case, I expect the Heels to be a little rusty and the offense to be rough around the edges. Since that might be the case, UNC needs to come out focused on defense. Despite the week off and whatever else may have happened, there is no reason not to come out and give a solid defensive effort. If that happens, who knows maybe the offense shows up in a meaningful way.
In reality the purpose of this game and the next one is to tune up for ACC play. UNC needs a couple of good wins to build some momentum when they face Virginia to open up the ACC schedule. The next two games are important also for the NCAA Tournament resume. If the Heels can manage 10-6 in the ACC to go with a 10-4 out of conference mark, UNC is 20-10 and virtually a shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament. Less than that on both accounts creates issues. First things first however and that is handling Rutgers then going from there.
UNC 84 Rutgers 69