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ACC Quarterfinals: #1 UNC vs #8 Maryland

What: ACC Tournament Quarterfinals
Where: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
When: Friday, March 9th, 12:00 PM
TV: ESPN2 and ACC Network
Records: UNC 27-4, 14-2 ACC; Maryland 17-14, 6-10 ACC
ACCT Results: UNC-First game; Maryland-def. Wake Forest 80-62

Cocktail party or serious business?

The ever persistent question asked of UNC in the ACC Tournament is whether or not the Tar Heels actually care enough to go out and win the darn thing. Couple that question with the season long about this particular team's ability to bring it at a high level in every game and it leads to some uncertainty. Will UNC take the weekend seriously given its position in NCAA Tournament seeding? How will this team respond to getting a big win over Duke to win the regular season title? Roy Williams said last year they were fat and happy after beating Duke in Chapel Hill which led to the Heels needing two huge rallies to even make it to the ACC title game. I would like to think last week in Durham was the start of something. I want to believe the team that owned Duke and played like a national title contender will keep showing up from now until the season ends. Obviously some lingering doubts remain so we will have to wait and see which team shows up. Obviously you won't see a team primed to beat another top ten team but I think all any of us ask is to simply look and play better than Maryland in every facet of the game.

One of the biggest concern UNC has in trying to win three games in three days is the fatigue factor. None of us on the outside and certainly no one on the team is real thrilled at the notion of Kendall Marshall playing 36-38 mpg for three straight games. That is why completely dominating Maryland for the first 30 minutes of the game today is really important. The Heels need to carve out a 20-30 point lead by the third TV timeout of the second half just for the express purpose of sitting Marshall down. Maryland will be a tough opponent to do that against. Terrell Stoglin is feeling a little slighted by being on the All-ACC second team despite leading the league in scoring. Alex Len has proven to be a tough match-up for Tyler Zeller and John Henson. That is where the play of Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock come in. Getting solid offensive games from both of them, including some early three pointers will go a long way to UNC getting this game under control as quickly as possible.

The one other storyline for today is Marshall and the ACC single season assist record. Georgia Tech's Craig Neal set the mark in 1988 at 303. At present Marshall has 299 assists so there is a good chance he will break the mark early in the game. The irony is Marshall broke the UNC single season assist record against Maryland and now has a chance to eclipse the ACC mark against the same team.

Just to review, the goals for today are:

1. Win
2. No one gets injured
3. Blow Maryland out
4. Get Marshall and others some rest
5. P.J. Hairston find his jumpshot

UNC 82 Maryland 61