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How Important Is Tonight's Georgia Tech Game?

It's pretty much the difference between a failed season and one where some pride can be salvaged.

At least that's how I see it. As I mentioned yesterday, UNC has six games remaining; three of which are quite winnable and two that are pretty far out of reach for the team currently. Tech is the sixth game, and a win here is the difference between a 7-9 and a 6-10 conference record. Which, for some reason, has a large psychological difference for me. 7-9 is one game off of .500 and a disappointment considering how this team looked in December. 6-10 is solidly in the losing record category. It also means that UNC will be, if not the higher-seeded team in their Thursday ACC Tournament game, at least share the same record as their opponent – no team finishing 7-9 has ever been lower than 9th in the conference standings. Seven conference wins also gives the Heels an 18-13 record overall, which at least puts them within striking distance of a twenty-win season, once postseason play is considered. A small victory, at least.

So how does Carolina get a win in Atlanta tonight? Ignore Iman Shumpert's earlier performance in Chapel Hill, the key to stopping Tech is to keep the big men off the boards. UNC had mixed results with last time, keeping Derrick Favors out of things by stranding him on the bench with foul trouble, but pretty much letting Gani Lawal pick up rebounds at will. Tech finished with 35 boards to UNC's 39, and nabbed 15 on the offensive end that contributed well more than the margin of victory. That an the eleven steals the Yellow Jackets nabbed at Carolina's expense was what killed the Heels; if Carolina can control the boards and not turn the ball over, they can steal the win on the road.

Of course, it's not like this team has had trouble with either of those things this season, have they?