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UNC 69 NC State 67


That kind of game is what makes the ACC Tournament great. It was hard fought with players making big plays on both ends. The officiating was inconsistent and factored entirely too much into the game. Outside of that, it was a good basketball game to watch, especially if you didn't have a dog in the fight. If you did, it was gut wrenching. For UNC there was a great deal of value for the Heels in this game in terms of handling a tight game minus two All-ACC post players. In fact this really came down to Kendall Marshall winning the game since there was no Tyler Zeller or John Henson in the post, Harrison Barnes was only good in spurts and Reggie Bullock being focused on keeping Scott Wood off his game. In a game this close, Bullock's efforts on Wood should not be overlooked. While NCSU fans want to complain about officiating, the fact Wood only had two points is a huge reason why NCSU lost the game. In fact, most of NCSU losses this season can be traced to Wood not hitting his shot.

On UNC's side it was heavy doses of Marshall and Zeller. In fact I would argue UNC did not go to Zeller enough when all of the Wolfpack frontline players had four fouls. Barnes was good for a stretch in the second half but far too many times he was unable to finish at the rim or simply missed open shots. Barnes also took some ill advised shots which didn't help. It goes without saying that Barnes needs to be better and hopefully we will see that on Sunday.

I would be remiss if I didn't also point out how big Justin Watts was in this game. Yes, he had a couple of brain freeze moments of assuming he had a green light or blowing an open layup. Besides that Watts ran the point for the final four minutes of the half with Marshall sitting out after his second foul. UNC led 11-9 during that stretch. Watts played some tough defense on C.J. Leslie and drew a charge on the Wolfpack forward that was his fourth. Then there was the steal of an entry pass to from Lorenzo Brown to Deshawn Painter after UNC went up two then a very heady play of throwing the ball downcourt to effectively kill most of the clock. Watts gets ridden hard for some of his mistakes but I dare say, I am not sure UNC wins without him.

It was a tough win that puts UNC in a great position for NCAA Tournament seeding regardless of what happens on Sunday.