Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, January 29th, 6:00 PM
Records: UNC 17-3, 4-1 ACC; Georgia Tech 8-12, 1-5 ACC
Three games in six days against the bottom half of the ACC.
Ah Georgia Tech. UNC's Bermuda Triangle opponent, more so in Atlanta than Chapel Hill but if NC State is the standard of complete dominance for Roy Williams at UNC, the Yellow Jackets represent the persistent head-scratcher. Roy is 6-8 against Georgia Tech which was coached by Paul Hewitt until this season. How or why Roy has had so much trouble with a coach who a majority of people agree is a terrible coach with a great agent is one of the great mysteries of our time. Hewitt has been replaced with Brian Gregory, formerly of Dayton and winner of the 2010 NIT...over UNC. In addition Georgia Tech has Glen Rice, Jr., the son of Michigan's Glen Rice who lit the Heels up in the 1989 Sweet Sixteen.
This game has lots of little threads to pull on, none of which matter except for entertainment purposes since the game promises to be a blowout. At the very least it should be given the disparity in opponents. The next three games provide an interesting test for the Heels who have dealt with intensity questions all season. UNC plays Georgia Tech at home and then heads on the road to play Wake Forest and Maryland. That's three games against teams ranked 157, 208, 148 in KenPom. I don't think it is as much a question of UNC winning, they should. The question is one of being focused in games the team is expected to win handily. Speaking for myself, I am more or less looking for the Heels to play well, iron out any wrinkles in the team game and play at a consistent level. UNC has gone through a major lineup change so there is still work to do on the rotation and figuring out how the parts all fit together.
The bottom line is UNC looked like a Final Four team on Thursday and while there will be an ebb and flow on the level of play based on the opponent, I would expect these games to be only a small step below playing NC State or Duke. Some of the emotional element will be missing which means this group, which has had issues really bringing it when the emotional element is absent, can make it a point to play 20-25 minutes of dominating basketball to put these teams way early. With three games in six days, Roy will be loose with the rotation and the starters will see some significant rest late in games if the Heels are up big. That is perhaps the biggest reason to come out and blow teams way in the first half.
The goals of this game and the two after it are clear. Stay healthy and fine tune things ahead of the regular season home stretch where UNC will play Duke and Virginia twice plus NC State on the road.
UNC 87 GT 66