Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, February 19th, 4:00 PM
Records: UNC 19-6, 9-2 ACC; BC 16-9, 6-5 ACC
It is probably a safe bet UNC won't do the same thing in this game as they did 18 days ago. It is rare for the second matchup in a season between two teams of similar caliber to be the same as the previous one. Well that is unless it is UNC playing Michigan St. then it goes exactly the same way. I would expect this game to be a much closer contest than it was eighteen days ago in Chestnut Hill. One reason being Reggie Jackson is playing at a much higher level than he did in the first game when he had a paltry six points on 2-10 shooting. Jackson is averaging 18.5 ppg on the season. Over the past two games Jackson as scored 27 and 31 and shot 8-16 from three. So it probably won't shock anyone if Jackson plays well versus UNC. The importance of the UNC defense cannot be overstated in this one. That is the anchor which keeps UNC stable even when the offense goes off the rails.
Speaking of the offense, UNC will certainly be looking for better offensive execution. I know much has been made of three straight games of bad three point shooting. That is and should be a concern, especially since the Heels had plenty of open looks versus Wake Forest. However, the more pertinent issue is how well UNC is executing its offense which is focused on interior scoring first, getting out in transition and out of the sheer need for balance hitting some threes. Against Wake Forest it was an issue of the offense getting out of balance. The Heels were not aggressive enough in probing the zone and Roy Williams noted today Tyler Zeller and John Henson did not "call" for the ball nearly enough. The UNC frontcourt needs to establish their presence and put themselves in a position to score. Since UNC was not doing that a frustration with the zone set it which the Heels tried to break by shooting which led to an inordinate number of threes being chucked in the direct of the rim. Despite the open looks from three, I think the players were pressing a bit not to mention feeling the weight of the slump. It is interesting to note that the first game at BC was one of the Tar Heels' finest shooting performances of the year. UNC was 11-21 from three for 52% and shot 57% overall. UNC was also 17-20 from the FT line. Not that any of that means anything but it would be nice if the Heels can harness some of that for this game and shoot threes closer to the team's season average as well as keeping the points distribution focused on the interior players.
Looking at the stakes in this game. BC really needs a quality win for the NCAA Selection Committee and getting one on the road would be even better. UNC is going for the 20th win of the season and 10th in the ACC. UNC must keep winning to keep pace with Duke as well as continue to move up in terms of the NCAA seeding. Unlike Tuesday when the relative crappiness of Wake Forest basketball may have been like tryptophan on Thanksgiving afternoon, I expect the Heels will be more than ready to go in this one.
UNC 83 BC 71