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UNC vs. Virginia Tech: Three Things to Watch

The Tar Heels must find a way to stop their losing streak.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are struggling. The inability to finish in Portland bled over to a disjoined effort in Indiana.

Tomorrow, conference play begins and Carolina must correct their course.

This stretch does not get any easier with a one-loss Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg.

The game will show us what kind of team we have in the Tar Heels. Adversity has come early in the season, and UNC must find a way to respond.

Here are a few things to watch tomorrow afternoon versus Virginia Tech.

Shot Selection

This factor is the one leaving fans scratching their heads. Against Alabama and Indiana, the team had success penetrating the basket. Most commonly, this occurred while the opposition’s inside presence was on the bench.

Once that inside player returned, it was back to rushed jump shots and other nonsense.

Why not continue to attack the basket? The offense seems to be reactive to personnel rather than asserting their game plan.

The reliance on jump shots is reflected in their poor assist totals. UNC ranks 300th in the nation in assists per game.

Until the Tar Heels are able to create better spacing and movement on the floor, it does not seem like much will change until shots just begin to fall.

Defensive Effort

Sometimes the Tar Heels are locked in, and other times they are not.

When the defensive intensity is lacking and the offense is running for five seconds at a time, Carolina falls into 15-point holes like on Wednesday night.

This inconsistency was perfectly encapsulated during a sequence in the second half of the Indiana game.

Carolina’s pressure forced a long Hoosier shot near the end of the shot clock. Despite a long offensive rebound, the Tar Heels then stole the ball. UNC did not run in transition but rather went up the court at a leisurely pace and the first pass was stolen by Indiana. Deflated, the Tar Heels just half-heartedly jogged as the easy layup was scored by IU.

Sure, it is early December and we are not going to see the same defensive intensity we saw last March and April. It is just disheartening to see how far the pendulum can swing in just a moment’s notice.

Carolina Staples

Yes, the NBA-style offense is here in Chapel Hill. But, UNC is still playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

When the shots are falling, it is a lot of fun.

When the shots are not falling, it is ugly to watch.

Against Indiana, Carolina was smoked in the paint and in transition.

For decades, this combination was a rare occurrence. Now, it seems like the norm.

When the offense is not producing, can the team return to these Carolina staples of feeding the post and focusing on scoring in transition?

Perhaps not. But it seems as though with the amount of offensive flexibility allowed for this team, a return to the “basics” could help settle the team down and allow them to stay in the game.