For those that think they finally figured out this Carolina team, it’s very likely that last night’s blowout against Boston College muddled things up all over again. Sure, Boston College isn’t a very good team, but it’s important to remember that the Heels only beat them by eight points at home earlier in the season. This was truly an impressive performance, and one that they certainly needed in order to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Let’s not waste any time and dive into the three big takeaways from last night’s game.
The good version of Caleb Love is back...again
Caleb Love has done a very good job of making himself one of the more polarizing players in Carolina basketball history. After having an incredible Final Four run, Love regressed dramatically this season, struggling mightily on the offensive side of the ball. Yes, some people out there would argue that he overachieved during the NCAA Tournament run last season, but here’s the thing: I don’t know that he did. Let me explain.
On the surface, it’s really easy to look at what Love has done this season and come to some very harsh conclusions. However, the thing is that Love knows who he is as a player and where his strengths lie, but for some reason he hasn’t been willing to utilize his strengths on a regular basis. He isn’t a guy that should be breaking down defenders on the dribble and pulling up for a three-pointer — he is a guy that is excellent when he is attacking the basket, and the threat that he will drive opens up his three-pointer. I will also say this: he is a much, much better shooter when he is shooting in rhythm. It’s been frustrating that we haven’t seen more of what we saw last night all season long, and only time will tell whether or not he has finally figured out how to be a consistently dangerous threat. Repeating his performance tonight against Virginia would be a great start.
UNC is finally turning defense into offense
It has been quite a roller coaster this season when it comes to watching the Heels operate in transition, specifically when it comes to what happens after making opposing teams turn the ball over. It’s felt like they were more interested in slowing the ball down, letting the opposing defense get set, and making things way harder on themselves than they need to.
Thankfully that’s not what happened last night when the Heels scored 16 points off of Boston College’s 13 turnovers. The Heels did a really good job driving the ball as often as possible, looking closer to a Roy Williams team in transition. The cherry on top is that UNC only turned the ball over themselves seven times, so the Eagles didn’t get a chance to even things out. Shooting has been a big pain point this season, but giving the other team way more opportunities than they should have has also been a pretty noticeable issue. It’ll be important for them to take care of the ball against Virginia, because every possession counts when dealing with a Tony Bennett team.
Does Armando Bacot have it in him to play tonight?
In case this postseason didn’t feel enough like last year for fans, Armando Bacot suffered an ankle injury in last night’s game, but returned to action after having the trainers wrap tape around it. After the Heels blew the doors off of the Eagles, Hubert Davis sat Bacot for the rest of the game. Tar Heel fans likely know by now that it is really difficult to make Bacot sit on the bench after suffering an injury, so seeing him return and try to give his all was anything but surprising.
However, the big question is whether or not Bacot will be healthy enough to face Virginia, a team who he already missed a game against earlier in the season. If I had to guess, he will absolutely try to play knowing the season is on the line, but the athletic trainers will still have something to say about it if it is serious enough. It’s hard to imagine a world where UNC makes it to the ACC championship game without Bacot, so let’s hope that his injury isn’t as serious as it has been in the past. Get through a few more games, and hopefully he will get to rest up for the NCAA Tournament instead of resting for the summer.