North Carolina vs Boston College, 4:00 PM, ESPN2
Let be honest. This game is essentially the same as playing UNC Greensboro in late December. Actually, according to KenPom, this is worse than playing UNC Greensboro. UNCG is presently ranked eight spots ahead of the Eagles and sport some semblance of a productive offense. Generally speaking, when a Power 5 team enters conference play, it leaves behind games against teams ranked outside KenPom's top 200. There are notable exceptions such as Wake Forest in 2011 and 2012 and these same Eagles during the latter season. It isn't ideal from a strength of schedule standpoint though in UNC's case it probably doesn't matter.
What does matter is finishing first in the regular season and getting Boston College twice in the era of unbalanced schedules is a bonus for the Tar Heels. More than that this game comes at an opportune time for UNC. The past three games have seen the Tar Heels struggle to shoot the ball from the perimeter. During that span only Brice Johnson and Joel Berry have been proven reliable in terms of offensive production. Getting a home game in a very, very winnable game could be the cure for what ails UNC.Given the Tar Heels face on the best defenses in the country on Monday, getting handle on the shooting woes today would be ideal.
At the center of those shooting struggles is Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson. For the record Jackson has struggled from beyond the arc all season and has yet to reproduce his nine game performance from the end of last season. That isn't necessarily a big deal as long as Jackson is doing what he does best, hit floaters and find soft spots in the defense for easy baskets. That hasn't been the case since going 8-10 from two against Syracuse. Since then Jackson has gone 1-6, 4-11 and 4-8. His ACC play offensive rating is just 98.0, well below 113.4 he posted in league games last season.
Jackson's lack of production, especially from three, wouldn't necessarily be alarming if Paige was performing closer to the level we are accustomed to in his career. His slump is now four games old with the senior missing 0-16 in his last three games from three and just 8-39 from three in ACC play. It stands to reason that Paige will, at some point, return to form rendering the hand wringing over his shooting woes irrelevant. With two big games on the road next week, a "normal" Marcus Paige is absolutely necessary. Getting him "back" today is the best case scenario.
UNC 101 Boston College 62