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Things not to do during this mini-break for UNC men’s basketball

You should do what you like during this time off your evening obligations, but there are some things to maybe avoid

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 05 Women’s North Carolina at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s not the absolute drudgery of getting through a football bye week, but 8 days between the UNC Tar Heels’ trip to Syracuse and their next action, a chance for revenge at home against a Pittsburgh team that upset them early on in the ACC schedule, is a longer break than we’re used to in the winter/spring season. I’m sure the players welcome a chance to stay home for an extended period of time, recuperating injuries and the wear and tear that might not extend to that classification (looking at you, R.J. Davis). But for us layabouts, such extended periods of freedom in our evenings can’t help but encourage our minds to wander. And if you find yourself feeling so unmoored over the next week-ish, you might be encouraged to make some subpar decisions. In anticipation, here’s a guide: not of things that you should do, because the world is vast and oystery, but of things it’s probably best to avoid, for the sake of your continued peace.

1. Don’t forget that there’s more than one basketball team playing in Chapel Hill.

We’ve done Courtney Banghart and UNC’s women’s squad a reasonably-sized disservice on this blog this season, and I’m going to do my best to rectify this going forwards. Al’s preview of last night’s Pittsburgh game was a pretty decent recap, but it’s worth repeating: The Tar Heels are the #15 team in the country with wins over #7 Notre Dame, #16 Duke, and #20 N.C. State over the past three weeks, after they stumbled into the ACC season with a few tough losses. They’re on a 6-game heater at the moment, helped by last night’s game at Pitt, where they struggled for three quarters to solve the Panthers’ zone before absolutely dominating the final 10 minutes and winning comfortably. True to the form Courtney Banghart has established in her time in Chapel Hill, this team plays suffocating defense all over the court, highlighted by holding Duke to just five points in the first quarter of the rivalry matchup earlier this month. There are 6 Heels averaging a steal or more a game, and the team as a whole averages 14 stocks (that’s steals+blocks) per game, which is insane.

And the junior class trio of Deja Kelly, Alyssa Ustby, and Kennedy Todd-Williams, who have always been good-to-great, have fully blossomed into this team’s stars. Todd-Williams’ outside shot has improved dramatically; she’s gone from a 28% shooter from deep last year to a 34% shooter on double the attempts. Kelly, who was probably thrust into being the team’s primary ballhandler before she was ready as a first-year, is handling that role with aplomb now, leading the team in scoring (16.5 points per game) and assists (3.5), though her efficiency has fluctuated — it’s been on the upswing recently! They’ve got a more than able supporting cast, highlighted by first-year point guard Paulina Paris, who’s just awesome off the bench, and overall, it’s just a well-balanced, fun team to watch. They play at Clemson on Sunday before coming back to Carmichael to host Virginia. If you haven’t been already, check them out, and maybe consider going to a game. Carmichael has been rocking the past few matchups.

2. Don’t get into rock fights on the internet.

My buddy Max will have more to say about this tomorrow, so I’ll keep it brief. A subsection of online college basketball fans have decided that this is the week to make complaining about UNC basketball and the officiating thereof their entire personality. I beseech you, do not engage. As bad a look as sore losing and sour grapes are, sore winners are a thousand times worse. The state of officiating across basically every professional sport in the United States is either at an all-time low or, through better resolution on TV cameras and an ever-more knowledgeable viewer base, being held to higher standards. Either way, this is a conversation to be had after the season, about how college and professional leagues alike, and their media partners, can seriously invest in better and more consistent officiating, for the sake of the product we all love. For now, though, just let that stuff play out on the court.

3. Don’t decide that now is the time to get into chess.

To end the list, I’m being facetious, kind of. Chess is currently undergoing a popularity boom that dwarfs the one we saw post-Queen’s Gambit, for reasons that aren’t nearly as easy to single out — increased quantity and quality of chess people in new media, this picture of Messi and Ronaldo, that whole butt-beads thing, and a lot more have all been happening, but it’s tough to figure out why now in the past 4 or so months — maybe the result of New Year’s Resolutions? Anyways, the boom is so big that’s servers have not infrequently been crashing under all their new traffic. There are other online chess platforms, but has by far the most beginner-friendly interface (some experienced players will recommend you use, because it looks more classic, and those people are wrong). So even though you might have a few more evenings free, if you’re looking for some intellectual competitive stimulation, look elsewhere. Maybe take the Jeopardy Anytime! Test, or play a game of So Clover! with friends and family. And in a week, we can come back to watching Hubert Davis’ squad take the court and turn off our brains all over again, in the best possible ways. Have a great weekend, everybody!